What businesses want from workplace wearables: happy customers

Could smart watches make your sales teams or service agents more responsive to customer needs?

Many businesses taking a chance on wearable technologies believe the answer to that question is “Yes,” suggests a corporate adoption study conducted by Salesforce in the weeks leading up to the Apple Watch release.

More than one-third of the roughly 1,400 respondents already use wearable technologies on the job. A large majority (86%) plan to invest more in applications for smart watches, lanyards, bracelets, and eyewear over the next year.

Not surprisingly, watches are getting most of the attention, with almost half the survey respondents suggesting they’ll have the biggest impact within corporate settings. Among the most anticipated usage scenarios: real-time access to customer information, instruction guides for field service teams, real-time alerts about everything from pricing changes to average call-center wait times, and training materials.

“Think of this, in the case of retail, I’m a manager or service worker. Now, I can make sure everyone who walks into the store gets a personalized experience,” said Lindsey Irvine, global director of strategic partnerships for Salesforce, which will have its first Apple Watch application available Friday when the first orders make it to customers’ wrists. “[These devices] can give you the right intelligence and predictive information you need, at the time you need it.”

In short, wearables could be an invaluable tool for creating happy customers. “Data intelligence derived from wearables allows employees to know their customer’s behavior and patterns in advance, to better serve and know them in that micro-moment,” said Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, a marketing and sales consulting company that works closely with Salesforce, Marketo and Oracle. “Wearables allow enterprises to optimize this. The interface is on the body, rather than in pockets and bags where opportunities might be missed.”

Digital badges and “lanyards” such as the Nymi heart-monitoring device beat out eyewear (although only slightly) as the second most active area of interest. (Fitness bands were categorized separately.) These sorts of devices are being considered for applications such as access control for office buildings or hotel rooms, or as the payment conduit in resorts or theme parks. Disney’s MagicBands, which are RFID-enabled wristbands, are great example of a system that’s already up and running.

“We want more killer apps, and we want our customers to be building these things,” Irvine said, when asked about Salesforce’s motivation for the corporate adoption study. The company’s Salesforce Wear apps-creation software is meant to kickstart that creativity.

Here are five other things you should know:

  1. After Apple Watch, survey respondents were most interested in applications for Google Glass
  2. Data collection is considered one of the largest adoption obstacles; only 8% indicated they’d be able to make use of metrics collected via wearables
  3. While cost is the biggest motivator of purchases, business users also want devices that multitask
  4. Three-quarters of businesses that already use wearables report a positive impact on performance
  5. More than half of companies expecting to make use of these gadgets expect employees to “bring their own”


Read more about how businesses are bringing smart watches, bands, eyeglasses and other gadgets into the workplace.

Sign up for Data Sheet, our daily newsletter about the business of technology.

Revision April 22, 2015: This story was updated to add insight from Bluewolf CEO Eric Berridge.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward