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Wearables in the Workplace: Why the Key to Mass Adoption Lies in the Enterprise

 

From smartwatches to body cameras, the wearables market is projected to hit $28.7 billion in the next two years. As fitness trackers gain popularity with consumers, widespread adoption of wearables may actually lie in enterprise channels thanks to their potential to increase productivity while improving bottom lines. Research has found close to 70% of employers consider wearables to be a growing priority, while 68% of employees are willing to adopt them if provided by employers.The future is ripe for wearables to transform the workplace.

But there’s a major hurdle: only 30% of buyers actually continue to use their device on a daily basis after the first 30–60 days. After the initial novelty of the daily 10,000-step notification, users quickly lose interest without more insightful information. As the wearable market grows, there’s a huge opportunity for developers to deliver more meaningful insights and drive sustained behavior change and widespread adoption through rich notifications.

Moving beyond the simple push alerts, rich notifications process data from multiple sources to provide actionable, contextual insights. Rather than just delivering discrete information about users (heart rate, steps, sleep, stress), rich notifications also capture information around them (location, time, weather), offering a more holistic view of their experience.

At Samsung, we’re testing rich notifications for a number of enterprise use cases for the Gear S2 watch with advanced sensors, most immediately health and operational logistics. We approach each case with a couple considerations in mind: consumer utility — what problems can we solve for them? — and associated stakeholders — who matters to you as a consumer (friends, family, employers) and how can we reach them as well? For developers, we are designing standalone secure APIs for Gear S2 (and future products) to minimize smartphone dependency for data transfer and connectivity.

 

Health

Health is one of the most powerful applications of wearables from a utility perspective. Since many employers cover a large percentage of employee healthcare costs and pay a third of annual employee healthcare claims, enterprises have a vested interest in keeping their employees healthy. We’re leveraging environmental and social data to prompt behavioral changes in users’ daily lives — as much as 300% more user engagement with the right incentives and feedback, which is huge!

You may be covering 10,000 steps per day, but this number doesn’t mean as much if you aren’t doing it efficiently. Contextual factors like heart rate, altitude and location provide a more comprehensive picture of activity level, along with insights the user can act on. For example, geo-location notifications could encourage users to stop for a drink or take the stairs the moment they pass by a water fountain or elevator.

Social notifications offer additional layers of user engagement through features like gamification and coaching. Competition between friends, family and colleagues is extremely effective in driving wearable use, especially with incentives that enable users to redeem points and rewards for meeting health benchmarks. Another kind of social motivation, coaching, pairs users with local fitness centers to hold them accountable. Trainers can send software-based notifications to encourage people to walk around the block if they’re 100 steps away from their daily goal, or suggestions for healthy meal options.

 

Operational Logistics

Enterprises are under tremendous pressure, as 50–60% of US workforce is expected to retire in next three to five years and annual workforce productivity is stagnant (declining two percent year over year in 2016). Wearables are expected to solve problems for training and knowledge transfer while increasing productivity by over five percent.

Rich notifications enable businesses to streamline operations and increase productivity levels across entire workflows. In this context, we’re already seeing major benefits of workplace wearables in verticals that require mission-critical and time-sensitive tasks such as industry, hospitality and travel. Imagine, for example, that a hotel needs a particular room cleaned. An employee can receive the request on his or her watch and go to that location, which the watch registers. This simple chain of communication — which could also be used at an airport, restaurant or a variety of other businesses — means better turnaround, faster delivery and improved customer experiences.

Wearable data can also strengthen employee safety and security, both key to delivering a comprehensive enterprise solution, through real-time alerts of unusual body metrics (irregular heart rate, falls and other sudden movements).

 

What’s Next

Regardless of use case, the ultimate goal should be to offer users valuable information that allows them to make meaningful changes in all aspects of their daily lives, both personal and professional. Rich notifications are one subtle yet impactful way for developers to help drive these changes, ultimately paving the way for mass adoption.

 

By Nitesh Jain
May 03, 2016
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