Wearables: the silent revolution changing the way we dress
This is the sixth article in the series on the Management Systems Revolution usher in by the Omniera. Now we’ll look at the subtle changes wearables are making in the lives of people and businesses.
The term wearables’ or ‘wearable devices’ refer to a technology used in devices that help people with their everyday lives. It may be a watch that lets you access, read and answer emails, get social network notifications, check your health metrics on a fitness monitor that manages sports targets and heart rate; eyeglasses that record and transmit audio, shoot videos, make internet searches, get weather reports, etc.
Wearables used in the everyday lives of people and companies
A key aspect to analyze is the changing pattern of consumption, content generation, building and managing businesses and integrating across multiplatform systems that are now possible in this context in as wearable technologies are moving in on the market.
In addition to watches and eyeglasses, there are shoes, shirts and bracelets using similar technology. There are wristbands that replace credit cards when paying for purchases using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. In addition to payments, these wristbands can control access to secured area, open doors, authorize entry and register access, thus replacing the magnetic cards companies were using for this purpose.
On the same lines, there are clothes with built-in wearables. A good example is a jacket made with washable headphones. There are gloves that connect to the smartphone in your pocket, cufflinks used as thumb or USB drives, shirts that detect Wi-Fi signals and show their features, and rings that can pay bills and authorize access to places just like wristbands.
Another highlight is an augmented reality helmet allowing wearers to see a map on its visor while riding a motorbike. It will also show local temperature, weather and feature front and rear-facing cameras.
There are even more sophisticated applications, such as basketball shoes containing a series of sensors that track all player movements and transfer data to a smartphone, so their coach can make detailed studies of a player’s movements and give them tips to enhance their performance.
These examples are just a few of the possibilities that are taking over the world scenario. Companies are now poised to tap these technologies, such as the ability to integrate wearable tech eyeglasses with ERP systems that are helping to pick and package goods. In this case, a wearer has a camera on eyeglasses to read a product’s bar code or QR code to access data that must be supplied to a customer during a sale, verify inventory availability, pick items, check details and even close out a sale.
Wearables and their commercial applications
Given the potential for new applications for smartwatches, some companies have started developing free apps that help consumers monitor aspects of health and wellness while also collecting data – with permission from consumers – from their servers in the cloud.
By using this data companies can get a better understanding of a consumer’s profile and needs. Then they can offer extremely adherent products and services with very high conversion rates, due particularly to the comfort and convenience consumers perceive as added value.
There is a lot of controversy about these devices: the information they generate and store, especially geolocation data and how it will be used; the advantages and disadvantages of this technology; which business models they may be applied to, etc.
However, wearable technology is increasingly gaining markets and advocates. It won’t take long for it to be part of most people’s everyday life, just like smartphones and like so many other technologies that were initially controversial but now come naturally to most people and businesses.
In relation to wearables business management, an example that has grown fast in warehouses is voice picking. This technology has evolved a lot in recent times with more powerful processors and voice recognition software. It helps operators keep their hands free to pick out goods while using voice commands to obtain WMS system information – data may be transmitted to systems through watches, wristbands and headsets.
To drive operational efficiency in distribution centers and logistics warehouses, companies have to maximize productivity and reduce picking error. In this respect, voice picking systems help handle goods (incoming, storing, replenishing and sorting) and the picking process itself, thus reducing training time for new employees, due to wearable tech’s intuitive or user-friendly characteristics.
Wearable technologies are here to stay. ERP systems need integrations to match these technologies, which, in addition to driving operational efficiency, may be used as a new business channel to drive sales volume and profits. Soon, many people will be wearing eyeglasses and watches when shopping.
In this respect, companies must crucially explore the potential of wearable technology applications to build closer relations with their consumers and collect comprehensive data on products, sales and consumer engagement in an ERP system, so that they have a full overview of the consumer’s journey, including when they started a process of showing interest in a purchase while using wearable technology but then went on to conclude the purchase using another channel, such as e-commerce, telephone sales, physical store, marketplaces, etc.