Wearable Technology: The Future is here!
According to a research carried out by Jupiter Consulting, the Global wearable tech market is currently assessed at $1.4 billion. This is set to explode in the coming 4-5 years and reach 14x levels to $19 billion by 2018.
Fitness bands, smart watches, Google glass etc- New forms of wearable technologies have made it big in the consumer market already. Although a bit costly at present, the wearable technology market will soon be consumed like the clothes and other mass market products. In fact, a research from PwC Consumer Intelligence shows that 20% Americans already own a wearable device- a trend similar to the adoption of tablets in 2012. This is all set to gain momentum in the coming few years.
Not only is there a need, but the market excitement is on the rise. And so is the demand! A recent survey shows that 53 per cent of millennials and 54 per cent of early adopters say they are excited about the future of wearable tech.
So, what makes wearable technology popular?
Wearable technology is set to change the way we live and change it for the better. Here are some aspects which underpins the popularity of wearables-
Safety: Tracking elements in wearable devices makes it easy to detect location of the device and improves security. This comes handy for parents who wish to keep themselves informed about their child’s location and well being. At the same time, these wearables can be equipped with SOS buttons to trigger emergency alarms/alerts.
Healthy lifestyle: Using wearable technology one can record heath related data and use it for medical analysis. For fitness enthusiasts, exercise records, calorie analytics and reminders make wearable devices of great utility. For health patients, wearables can help them track their sugar, protein and calorie intake levels and effectively monitor and analyse their blood pressure, temperature and other medical records easily.
Making it easy: Wearable technology operates remotely and can be easily carried anywhere. This makes life simpler and work easy to perform- anytime, anywhere.
Image Source: PwC
With the advent of Internet of Things, Big Data analytics and Design thinking approach, wearable technology is ought to pave its way into the future offering a unique and personalised customer experience by utilizing huge chunks of data to deliver meaningful insights. For businesses, this would have huge implications as the mobile strategy evolves and spreads its wings into the wearables segment and as business communications flow from mobile to wearables, much like it did from desktop to mobile in the past few years!
An Industry wise Outlook
Wearable technology presents opportunities for all industries alike and will become a part and parcel across multiple industries spanning through B2C and B2B environments. Let’s have a quick look at a few industries which are set to gain from the influx of wearables technology-
Media & Entertainment
The wearables segment presents the largest opportunity to this sector. Wherever a wearable device would offer a screen space, media will find its way and so will entertainment. With increase in wearable technology adoption rates, media and entertainment consumption will also increase and it would become more immersive and fun. According to estimates by PwC, the sales of wearables could reach 130 million units in 2018. If this were true, we can only imagine the size of revenues the wearable industry will bring to the media and entertainment industry. Here are a few examples of its applications-
With the millennial population hogging onto the social media platform for real time news updates, networking as well as business communications, they will readily embrace wearables which would offer them anytime, anywhere access to their selected favourite social platforms.
Similarly, wearable technology is poised to transform the gaming industry, making it more engaging through enhanced visual appeal and gesture recognition.
With wearables flooding the market with black canvas, businesses will paint them with advertisements, targeted message placements and more publishing activities driving revenues for organisations. Future media houses will combine the power of curated content with relevant and unique customer experience across wearable devices to open new channels of monetization.
Health & Healthcare Industry
Wearable technology come as a boon to consumers as they pave the way to instant monitoring, analysis, communication and monitoring of one’s health. And they will deliver all these benefits at lower costs! Although not widely prevalent today, research shows that more than 80 per cent of consumers feel that wearable technology has great potential to make health care more convenient.
So where is the challenge? As consumers, we do not want to spend much on wearable devices. The challenge is to make wearable products in healthcare affordable- both for the consumers as well as the healthcare partners!
With wearable technology hitting the healthcare nail on its head, sharing of health related data with friends, family and doctors would become a common trend. This data can be used by insurers and employers to better run trials, data and reduce and maintain healthcare costs and related reimbursements. At the same time, this would call for data protection norms as health related data is personal data. This opens up opportunities in data analytics and data security, which when clubbed with wearables will deliver interoperable, integrated, engaging, social and outcomes-driven environment.
With the industry focus on creating better customer experience, wearables technology will come handy in creating state-of-art retail experiences by delivering informed services, enhanced access, real time offers, personalised communications, faster checkouts and several other benefits to influence the buyer’s purchasing decisions. Wearables, complemented with comprehensive analytics, will make shopping experience an omni-channel phenomenon where consumers can shop across channels of their preference- anytime, anywhere.
The retail wearables technology segment is poised to deliver enhanced customer services through apps, rewards, personalisation, guidance, quick communication and promotional offers. According to a research, 51 per cent of millennials expect wearables to provide information for an enhanced retail experience. For the general population, this %age stands at 45 per cent. By connecting pre-store and in-store behaviour, retailers will radically redefine how buyers and sellers interact and significantly influence purchase decisions to drive revenues.
Wearable technology is at crossroads today. With Information Technology acting as the driving force, wearables will make a huge impact to the technology industry altogether. Wearable technology will offer stiff competition to the present day smart phone, like the smart phone did to desktop. With its unique value proposition, wearables are set to pave way into people’s lives without having to compete with other devices.
Wearable technology offers unique benefits like enhanced work productivity, ease of use and seamless integration. The challenge is to make effective use of data without comprising quality and security.
The Road Ahead…
So with wearables set to change the game, as businesses are you ready to leverage wearable technology? How well are you equipped to face the challenge and win the game by beating your competition? Here are a few points you should be careful about-
Identify business opportunities presented by this new and growing wearables market: As businesses, you should be able to exploit the development in wearable technology industry and harp on the opportunities presented in your area of operation and interest, much before your competitors do!
Focus on delivering unique customer experience: As goes by the saying, businesses should put customers first. Hence, businesses must utilize wearable technology in their existing business models to deliver enhanced and unique customer experience like no other. Wearables can prove to be the secret sauce to success if utilised properly.
Make wearables trustworthy and affordable: Businesses must try to win the consumer trust through consistently being transparent with what they do with data and how they use it. At the same time, in order to penetrate the market, businesses need to make wearable devices affordable for the consumers.
Focus on apps: Powerful wearable devices will be equipped with comprehensive apps in the near future. As business you should be cognizant of the fact that as wearable devices will be developed in all sizes, apps should be able to render themselves across multiple screen sizes. They should focus on intuitive notifications, instant discovery, event tracking, AV technology, gesture enabled functions and more complicated algorithms. Integrated sensors and biometrics can make these devices fit for a variety of day to day activities as well as useful in solving complicated issues. At the same time, these devices should be low energy consumption devices with seamless data transmission support.
In all, we conclude that much as the smart phone revolution has changed the way we live, interact and consume so will the wearable technology in the next few years. As businesses, we should be ready to leverage on this opportunity and work towards integration latest wearable industry developments with analytics, design thinking and agile product development techniques to deliver a unique consumer experience.
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About The Author
My name is Stuti Dhruv & I am senior consultant at Aalpha, primarily working on pre sales, consulting with clients on latest technology trends.