Wearables go to work

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From fitness trackers to smartwatches, wearables have made a splash in the consumer market, but few enterprises are using the new technology. Nonetheless, most CIOs say wearables are destined for the workplace.

In 2014, Aleksander Vukojevic joined Duke Energy's emerging technology office, where he evaluates new tools that have the potential to be deployed in the enterprise within three to five years. The technologies he has vetted range from predictive analytics to drones. But there's one that everybody asks him about -- wearables. "Everyone thinks they're cool. Everyone wants to try them. And everyone wants to know what else they can do," says Vukojevic.

Over the past year and a half, interest in wearables has intensified -- as has the development of wearable options. "When I started, there were just a few players," says Vukojevic, a former power systems engineer. "Things have changed so rapidly, it's hard to keep up with everything new that's coming out."

Nonetheless, "everyone thinks they're cool" isn't a good enterprise business case.

From fitness trackers to smartwatches, wearable computing has made a splash with consumers. But most enterprises have yet to venture into the market. PwC found that just 3 percent of companies were investing in wearable technology in 2015--down from 6 percent in 2014. "Limited success stories and the risk of failed or ineffective implementations are causing CIOs to proceed with cautious and careful optimism," says Mark Benson, CTO of Exosite, which develops software to help companies visualize Internet of Things data.

The vast majority of CIOs -- 81 percent -- believe that wearables will enter the workplace eventually, according to a Robert Half Technology survey of 2,400 IT leaders. Of those polled, 37 percent said they expect implementation in the next three to five years while 24 percent said the arrival of wearables at work is five or more years away.

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