Forrester asked 2,045 technology decision makers to rank the importance of having a strategy in place to support wearable devices over the next 12 months. Over half reported that wearables were a priority, with 32% replying that wearables are a "critical" or "high" priority.
2015 will be a transition year, with IT leaders facing three different wearables scenarios:
Company-owned wearables. Most wearables will be company-owned devices used to reshape how work gets done. For example, ClickSoftware's ShiftExpert app uses the Samsung Gear smart watch to let employees clock in and out from shifts, automatically entering the data into timesheets -- and also sending reminders if the worker is late. Deploying and supporting a wide array of devices -- from Google Glass to smart watches to smart clothing -- will be a rising challenge for technology managers in 2015.
Employee-owned wearables. Workers will inevitably try to expand their work lives onto new wearable devices, like smart watches. Extending mobile device management (MDM) systems and adjusting policies to accommodate these new bring-your-own (BYO) wearables will be a challenge as well.
Customer-owned wearables. Technology leaders will also be asked to support wearable devices owned by customers. For example, when Apple Pay and Apple Watch are released, supporting NFC payments with point of sale systems and software will be a priority for retail businesses. Designing applications, networks, and supporting infrastructure for customer-owned wearables is a chance for tech managers to contribute directly to the bottom line.
The Apple Watch factor Even as technology managers turn their attention to wearables, Apple's plans to enter the fray in a big way in early 2015 with the Apple Watch will heighten the sense of urgency and awareness.
Apple has a knack for catching emerging waves of technology growth at the right time. The company looks to do the same with wrist-based wearables. In 2014, 42% of online U.S. adults showed interest in purchasing a wrist-based wearable – up from 28% in 2013, and leading all other body locations (see figure below). FitBit, Jawbone, and Samsung have all helped incite this growing interest, but Apple Watch has the best chance of turning wearables into a mass market category.
Why is Apple so successful at building new product categories? One reason is its ability to build and extend its ecosystem of partners to create value for customers.
The wearables ecosystem will be built not by tech vendors alone, but by banks, retailers, hotels, hospitals, and brands. The planned Apple Watch app for the W Hotels, for example, will allow customers to check in to the hotel, open their hotel room doors, and pay for goods and services with Apple Pay. Much as Disney has done with its MagicBand wearable, Apple Watch can be
J.P. Gownder is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, serving infrastructure and operations professionals. He collaborates with other analysts to create the I&O workforce enablement playbook, which helps companies serve a more mobile workforce. View Full Bio
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