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Could wearable technology transform your small business?

Soon enough many of us may be reading the news with our glasses, scrolling through Facebook on our watches and crying over the calories as they’re displayed on a bracelet - as wearable technology insinuates itself into our everyday lives. Catering to an on-the-go, hands free and ever multitasking population, the mobile revolution is becoming ever more kinetic.

Wearable technology is no longer an imaginary and space age concept and it’s predicted by some to be the next big thing in business.

Despite a relatively short lifespan of just over a decade, smartphones have had an enormous impact on the commercial world.

With video calls connecting people across the globe, the syncing of smart devices and file sharing at the click of a button - you’d have thought it couldn’t get any easier.

But this latest trend makes browsing the internet on your phone seem somewhat prehistoric in comparison.

’The time may soon come when phones and tablets are a thing of the past, and the smart devices on which we all rely will sit innocuously on our persons, as unobtrusive as jewellery or clothing’ says Salesforce.com’s SEO manager, Stuart Leung, in a recent article.

Wearables were once predicted as being a fun alternative; the accessory to the smartphone or the tablet, but recent developments have seen an insurgence of wearable technology as a standalone product.

2014 saw the release of the Nike fuel band, sparking a fitness fad, the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the widely anticipated Google Glass, with 2015 set to showcase the eagerly anticipated Apple watch.

Not yet widely available, the first wave of wearable technology is still in its Beta stages. However it is predicted that by 2018 the market will be worth an approximate $8.36 billion – which will make a dramatic impact on the global economy.

A game-changer for business?

Wearables are viewed by many as a fad and a consumer fed phenomenon (like many a novelty gadget), but is it time to seriously consider wearable technology as a valuable business tool?

Through developing business orientated apps with their unprecedented level accessibility, wearables could create new business opportunities, increasing productivity and efficiency.

J.P Gownder states in The Enterprise Wearables Journey (2014):

“Perpetually connected wearables will enable workers, partners, and customers to experience new levels of immediacy, simplicity, and context in their mobile computing experiences. …they have the potential to change the way organizations and workers conduct business,“

What about your small business?

Admittedly it’s still early days and companies are still finding uses for wearables in the everyday working schedule.

In a BBC article, Duncan Stewart, research director at Deloitte, believes that it will have a larger impact on businesses where the technology in question replaces something considerably inferior or enables someone who previously couldn’t, to connect:

“Someone driving a forklift in a warehouse can’t use a PC or smartphone …but imagine if they can drive around and be able to pinpoint a pallet and then the particular box they need on that pallet.“

In a recent interview with Techradar.com, Adam Spearing, VP Platform EMEA at Salesforce.com agrees,

“We’ve always believed that small businesses are in the best position to adopt new technologies and ways of working, especially compared to larger rivals – and this remains true in the case of wearable technology. The wearable revolution gives small businesses the opportunity to differentiate themselves against their competitors through tremendous innovation and high quality of service.“

As a business owner, you will need to evaluate the development platforms and relate them back to your business goals - this will enable you to see the advantages and disadvantages.

You should also evaluate your business processes and services - wearables could increase the efficiency of your internal processes. Ask yourself what services your customers would want.

Think about how you interact with your pre-existing products, technology and clientele and how wearables might make those relationships better.

Technology is constantly on the move (in this case in a more literal sense) and by getting on board with the latest trends in wearable technology, if appropriate, you will give yourself that vital competitive edge.

The future

Speed and efficiency – the deliverance of data will be fast and resourceful, no more rummaging for your mobile to look up directions.

Increased productivity levels – already widely used in the medical sector wearables have now expanded to provide potential contracting and construction solutions.

Improved customer experience – The wearable movement will likely beneficial to improving customer experience. For example with the rise in online shopping, and the demise of the high street – shoppers are increasingly buying with their handheld devices. Wearables such as wireless headsets and smartwatches will further facilitate instant purchases as retail becomes more tailored to individual preferences and world views.

New business opportunities – new products will be created to cater to marketing and development strategies and easier customer data collection.

According to a recent report by Rackspace - Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity - which studied the responses of wearable users from either side of the Atlantic,

’..47 per cent of British and American wearable technology users felt more intelligent and 61 per cent felt more informed. 37 per cent stated that wearable technology helped with career development while 61 per cent claimed that their personal efficiency improved.’

Time will tell if wearable tech’s novelty value will fade, or fully develop into a valuable business tool, but the evidence so far is pointing to the latter.

By Melanie Luff, staff writer for BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Melanie writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable as well as other industry publications.

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