New technology can be a difficult thing for consumers and companies to get a good grasp on. For each new device, there is an accompanying instruction manual, IT implementation rubric, security platform and learning curve. Whenever an innovative item hits the market, it has early adopters ready to jump onboard immediately and a second, more hesitant group that wants to wait and see how well it works out. After that comes the mass of consumers and finally a few trailing late adopters.
For small businesses, it is beneficial to be in that early group of first or second adopters. It shows a willingness to adapt, gives the company a modern reputation, offers a chance to stay ahead of the curve and, of course, provides operational advantages.
Wearable devices represent one new tech that small companies should consider. They have the potential to give employees greater flexibility and will reflect positively on the business in general.
Adapting to employee preferences
Outside of work, employees are just regular people – subject to many of the same interests and desires as anyone else. As such, an individual may come to be the owner of a wearable device on his or her own terms. Following the upcoming gifting holiday, wearables could see a spike in usage, according to Mobile Commerce Press. The companies that parlay these existing devices into useful business tools will have a leg up on the competition.
The question is, how does a company incorporate an outside device into its operations? A business wouldn't want to hijack an employee's personal device for work use, but there are ways to get around that. An Apple Watch or Google Glass can be used to make employees' jobs easier by helping them access inventory information or pricing on the fly as they help out individual customers. Some retailers already outfit employees with smart phones or tablets to ease customer interactions – a smart device would just be another step further in that direction.
Striking the proper balance
Wearable devices have value when applied in the right situation and when backed by a supportive IT framework. It is within these parameters that small businesses must be sure to operate when they integrate wearables into the workforce.
A recent survey from PwC found that professionals believe their employers should supply wearable technology because it would boost productivity and customer interactions, according to Baseline. Seventy percent of respondents held that the technology should be allowed at work, while 46 percent believed the company should fund its purchase. However, 86 percent also said the devices could be vulnerable to security breaches.
Security concerns are not without merit – rather, they point to the overall strategy necessary for small companies to successfully include wearable devices as part of their business model.
"Inconsistency of data remains one of the top challenges for wearable technologies today," Mike Pegler, principal of PwC US technology practice, said in the survey. "For wearables to be effective across both primary and secondary devices, there needs to be an established frequency of measurement. Enterprises must forge partnerships and develop IT and platform alliances to deliver seamless experiences on both the front end and back end of wearable implementations."
Once companies determine the best way to leverage wearable technology, supported by a strong IT platform, the technology should prove to be an upgrade over existing systems in terms of efficiency, usability and flexibility.
Office technology industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in office technology equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.