Wearables At Work: 7 Productivity Apps - InformationWeek

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10/21/2014
09:06 AM
Shane O'Neill
Shane O'Neill
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Wearables At Work: 7 Productivity Apps

Wearables are great, but what good would Google Glass or the Galaxy Gear be without useful apps? Here's a sampling of the latest business apps for wearables.
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Today's focus on wearable devices and their companion apps usually skates over the consumer (Apple Watch notwithstanding) and zeros in on the enterprise. After all, smartwatches and "smartglasses" offer specific solutions to the specific tasks of mobile workers such as field technicians, doctors, retail salespeople, and construction workers.

According to research firms, wearables in the workplace are clearly time savers, but the effect is broader than that, as they will create serious productivity and profit gains over the next few years.

Gartner forecasts that the use of Google Glass and other smartglasses will help add more than $1 billion per year to company profits by 2017. Forrester recently surveyed 2,000 technology decision makers about the importance of having a wearables strategy in place over the next 12 months, and more than half of respondents reported that wearables were a priority, with 32% saying they're a "critical" or "high" priority.

Yet the technological and human behavior shifts brought on by wearables in the workplace come with hard truths for CIOs about bandwidth needs, battery life, security and privacy concerns, and integration with enterprise systems. IT leaders must weigh these challenges against how well wearables streamline the employee and customer experience.

This past summer, Salesforce.com opened up roads for app developers when it rolled out Salesforce Wear, an app development platform containing reference apps, demos, open-source code, and other documentation that can be used to develop apps for 11 wearable device types, including Google Glass, the Pebble smartwatch, and the Myo motion-detecting armband from Thalmic Labs, and connect the apps to the company's Salesforce1 mobile app platform. Wearables, business apps, and Internet of Things technologies were all big trends at the company's Dreamforce 2014 show last week in San Francisco.

Salesforce has been understandably bullish on wearable apps for business (it has serious skin in the game), but there's enough activity from ISVs and individual developers and support from the research community to justify preparing for wearables in your workplace now.

Here's a sample of standout wearable apps for retail, manufacturing, the service industry, and the general knowledge worker. This is sure to be just the first wave of many wearable business apps to come.

Shane O'Neill is Managing Editor for InformationWeek. Prior to joining InformationWeek, he served in various roles at CIO.com, most notably as assistant managing editor and senior writer covering Microsoft. He has also been an editor and writer at eWeek and TechTarget. ... View Full Bio

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impactnow
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impactnow,
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10/31/2014 | 11:44:09 PM
Re: wearables at work have a lot of potential
Pedro its great point, but some of the wearbles don't display to the employees their information only the employer.
impactnow
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impactnow,
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10/29/2014 | 12:51:09 PM
Re: Wearables At Work

I have seen some companies use wearables on white collar workers in the name of increasing productivity and learning the habits of highly effective workers Its hard for it to feel non-intrusive but tis here in many offices there are some companies that imbedding tracking devices in employee id cards and they can be tracked anywhere on the corporate campus.

Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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10/22/2014 | 1:05:27 PM
Re: Wearables At Work
You can understand why UPS or FedEx, for example, wants to monitor worker movement statistics. But white collar workers being asked to wear trackers is going to cause resentment, if it comes to pass. Productivity and value to a business can be measured in many different ways...
impactnow
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impactnow,
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10/22/2014 | 12:49:30 PM
Re: Wearables At Work

It's a great question in Europe wearables have been used for years to assist with productivity in warehouse jobs, they report greater safety and productivity after introducing wearable's. They have also used them for work force management by measuring efficiency of one worker vs., another at the same job. Most likely they will be gaining greater penetration in the US.

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impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
10/21/2014 | 1:18:47 PM
Re: wearables at work have a lot of potential

The convenience is terrific but I also have difficulty reading very small print. Audio capabilities on these wearables would help in that regard, both for receiving information and taking information into the app. I also would guess some employees might be concerned about wearable apps and their privacy in the workplace.

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