From Captain Kirk’s 70’s wrist communicator to the 1994 debut of Edgar Matias’ “wrist computer” to Microsoft’s 2004 SPOT smartwatch, wearable technology has been around for a while. Or at least the idea of it has. But it wasn’t until the arrival of Fitbit in 2009 that they finally became popular with consumers. Even though Edgar Matias and Microsoft technically launched their “smart watches” decades ago, consumers didn’t really take notice until the kickoff of Pebble’s Kickstarter in 2012. This in turn paved the way for today’s Android and Apple smart watches.
Another interesting wearables shift: though they first gained serious traction in the fitness market, such is no longer the case. We are now seeing significant adoption increases across industries such as law enforcement, healthcare, supply chain, and utilities, including one industry many thought would never use such technology – Insurance. Shocking, isn’t it!
In the past couple of years, Allstate, Progressive and other insurance companies have introduced devices customers install in their vehicles that gather information about their driving behaviors (speed, braking, time of day, etc.). In return, customers can receive rewards in the form of premium discounts. Taking it a step further, these companies are now also delivering mobile apps that capture the same data from the customer’s smartphone, without having to install anything in the vehicle.
And just last year insurance companies began using Google Glass…for their adjusters. Here’s why. Insurance adjusters typically carry a lot of things around with them – laptop, cell phone, maybe a voice recorder. For one Georgia-based insurance company, Google Glass (and their Mobile Claims app for field adjusters) eliminated their dependency on ‘old’ devices and helped free-up adjusters’ hands. Leveraging wearable devices provided immediate benefit for their catastrophe division, delivering real-time information from field adjusters working on complex losses. Additional key benefits realized from wearable technology are the following:
- Improves the loss-scoping (claim) process and in the quality of information collected
- Allows independent adjusters in the field to be the eyes and ears for an adjuster in the office
- Captures audio/video and photos of the incident being assessed
These are just a few benefits wearables are providing organizations outside the fitness industry. Wearable technology adoption rates will only continue to rise as companies identify more use cases that deliver positive results: increased employee productivity, improved operational efficiencies, and enhanced customer experiences.
As wearable technology adoption continues to grow and more industries recognize its value, companies need to have a game plan in place in order to capitalize on market opportunities and gain competitive advantage. Here are some things to consider as you look to add wearables to your business mobile strategy:
- Identify opportunities where wearable technologies can deliver value to your organization. For example, the rise of wearable devices can create new marketing avenues, including smarter, more robust customer data collection, as well as provide stronger insights into user interaction.
- Design your wearable solutions with your end-user scenarios in mind. To effectively embrace wearable technology, businesses must put the user at the center of the activity, reshaping an entire enterprise and its capabilities system around the customer or user experience.
- Be transparent and clear about the functionality and objectives of your wearable technology solutions. This will make adoption easier and establish user trust out of the gate. Security and trust remain key concerns with mobile users, particularly when new technologies are introduced.
- Recognize that wearable technologies will continue to evolve. As with any digital strategy, adopting wearable technology requires taking a strategic approach, understanding your target users along with the use cases and organizational (business and IT) maturity required to successfully support it.
If your company would like to discuss ways it can incorporate wearable technology into its enterprise mobile strategy, contact us. Propelics’ Emerging Technologies Kickstart is designed to help business and IT leaders realize first-hand the near-term benefits of adopting leading-edge technology by developing a working proof-of-concept app and an actionable plan to start delivering value for your organization. Our strategists will help you visualize, define, and prioritize wearable technology opportunities as well as identify and mitigate any risks.
Sr. Strategist & Client Partner Manager