Wearables in the enterprise? Yes, really!

Think wearables are just a consumer fad? Think again. Here’s how companies like DHL, Lee Company and Southern Co. are making a business case for wearables.

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Once upon a time, the only people who had computers embedded in their eyeglasses, watches or rings were TV spies and big-screen secret agents. Now, wearables are exploding in the marketplace, which means people outside the world of espionage can expect these technologies to help them in their jobs, too.

Employers in a wide range of vertical markets are already piloting and deploying wearables in targeted ways, according to analysts, researchers and IT leaders.

Doctors and nurses are using smart eyewear for hands-free access to patients' medical records. Oil rig workers use smart helmets to connect with land-based experts, who can view their work remotely and communicate instructions specific to the case. Warehouse managers capture real-time performance data to a smartwatch to better manage distribution and fulfillment operations.

"These are all things that can make somebody much more efficient, make them do their jobs better," says Maribel Lopez, principal and founder of Lopez Research, a mobile market research firm based in San Francisco. Adopting wearables "is about productivity and efficiency right now."

"The message we've been touting for the last few years is that the 'enterprisification' is going to be the story for wearables," says Bill Briggs, CTO at Deloitte Consulting. The top winners will be companies that can find specific reasons to use wearables in a way that transforms business processes. "What real business problems can you solve?" he asks.

Read on to find out how companies like DHL, Lee Company and Southern Co. are indeed solving business problems -- and in the process, turning wearables from fiction into fact.

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