The opportunities for wearables to enhance enterprise workflows

Constantly transforming digital business processes offer new opportunities to adopt upcoming technologies. Wearables have the potential to transform business processes and next-generation mobile strategies; however, businesses are still struggling to understand how they can fully help.

According to Gartner, by 2020 more than 60% of organisations will be using wearables to transform their business processes. This is clearly reflected in the small but growing number of early-adopting organisations that have started deploying wearable mobile devices in their business processes. Even as more enterprises are embracing wearable-driven innovations to enhance production deployments, there is still a lack of clear vision for their deployment in business scenarios.

Let’s take a look at some easy to adapt use cases for wearables in enterprise workflows:

Remote supervision or guidance

A smartglass can be the perfect accessory to help a field worker receive remote guidance from an expert sitting in an office location. A worker can use the smartglass to share a video of the action being performed with an expert or manager. The expert can then offer guidance to the worker on next steps using voice, telestration or images, which in turn can be viewed by the worker on the smartglass. The expert can stay connected to the wearable using a tablet or smartphone. Such kinds of use cases for smartglasses will find acceptance in field service, utility line service, installation and maintenance service, and emergency response line.

Benefits:

  • Faster problem solving: With direct supervision from an expert, problems can be diagnosed and fixed faster. Also, workers remain hand-free to perform tasks as per instructions
  • Better utilisation of experienced personnel: Fewer technicians or engineers have to be on-site. The expert can remain wherever required while remotely guiding a less experienced worker on-site
  • Improved sales experience: Workers can provide real-time demonstrations and live walk customer through how projects are completed and the full extent of work that is put in
  • Real-time training: Workers get extensive training from experts on how to complete a job and are able to master processes more quickly
  • Worker safety: Hands-free technology keeps workers concentrated on the job to be done

Hands-free workflow

Smartglasses, or head mounting display (HMD) are also perfect accessories for workers to receive step-by-step instructions on how to do a task using augmented reality overlay while keeping their hands free to complete the job. They can be used by workers in warehouses, field services, utility work, emergency response, healthcare, hospitality, retail shops, transportation businesses, manufacturing, and assembly line of work.

Benefits:

  • Providing instructions for multi-step or dynamic tasks: Provide workers with on the job training for tasks that require several non-repetitive steps
  • Report on workers’ performance quality: Workers can input speech to text voice captured data and images on work completed using HMD interfaces offered by ERP, CRM, warehouse management systems (WMS), or any other regulatory reporting system
  • Easier navigation: On-field workers can receive visual cues for the fastest way to get to their next task using smartglasses or other HMDs
  • Quicker access to digital files: Field workers can instantly pull patient/customer records, history of work done, as well as perform image recognition of equipment and parts

Worker training

Workers can wear HMDs to practice and learn work-related scenarios in a simulated or augmented setting. They will get to use voice, eye tracking, gesture devices or handheld interfaces to control and manage the simulation. The possibilities for this kind of training is huge for pilots, drivers, physicians or healthcare individuals, installation and assembly inspectors, athletes, emergency responders, educators, and also in-field services.

Benefits:

  • Simulated practice sessions: Simulated work tasks seen through an HMD helps a worker learn about a multi-step task through a simulated environment. Workers can practice many times while preparing for the task in real life, such as assembling an aeroplane engine, or performing surgery
  • Training for different project scenarios: Workers can practice several different approaches in a simulated environment to optimise the process and achieve positive outcomes. Examples could include police training to deflect different kinds of criminal incidents, athletes practicing their sports virtually, or even pilots training to handle a simulated crisis situation
  • Immersive learning using holograms: Workers can see holograms of complex equipment or other projects through an HMD. They will be able to interact with the hologram to open up the panels to check the inside composition of the structure and read associated data
  • Virtual classes to overcome distance boundaries: Workers from different areas can meet in a virtual or simulated classroom where they use HMDs to interact and receive training

Safety and health monitoring

This is arguably one of the most easily accepted wearable solutions for field workers. Wearables can work as sensors to improve worker safety, monitor their health in difficult environments and send out alerts in case of emergency situations. They are ideal for detecting heart rate, skin temperature, respiration pattern and drowsiness while driving, as well as other indicators of stress. Field service technicians, drivers, home health workers, utility line workers, operators of heavy equipment, emergency responders, pilots and construction workers can benefit from having sensors that can automatically send alerts in emergencies. Wearable accelerometers, sensing devices, sleep detectors, and smartwatches with heart rate sensors are great options for fieldwork.

Benefits:

  • Prevention of injuries: Data collected from sensors can help prevent injuries for workers on the field. They can also aid in getting quick medical help to the injured worker. Wearable sensors can help companies reduce chances of liability costs
  • Operational efficiency: Health, safety and injury reports collected from sensors can be directly passed on from app or cloud service to the reports created by CSOs.
  • Adherence to training instructions: Wearable health and safety sensors can serve as reminders to workers to follow their training instructions.

Adopting wearables can be an innovative step towards refreshing your enterprise’s mobility strategy. If used intelligently, it can help create high-impact transformation opportunities for your business. But like any new technology, large scale deployment of wearables in business requires an MDM solution to manage, secure and monitor the devices.

Editor’s note: Find out more about 42Gears’ wearable management solution here.

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