Editor’s note: Justin Foster is the West U.S. GM at Mobiquity leading the firm’s Western operations from sales through client delivery and advises a range of clients on how to adopt new technologies.
Imagine a scenario in which an oil rig worker suddenly hears an alarm sound from somewhere on the rig. The adrenaline rush begins and the worker knows he has to move fast. The sound of the siren is not a clear signal as to where the trouble is, but the smartwatch on his wrist indicates exactly where to go and what needs to be done to fix the problem. As he works to fix it, each step is photographed with his heads-up display for documentation and organizational learning.
If you’re thinking this scenario is far off in the future, think again. It’s actually a lot closer than you might think. At the Dreamforce conference earlier this month, Salesforce rolled out an updated version of Service Cloud 1 — its wearables “Trojan Horse” — which I believe is about to take over as the industry leader in wearable technologies.
In the demonstrations of the new ServiceCloud 1, Honeywell showed off its Lyric Thermostat; the company is banking that homeowners will move from paying for “security monitoring” to paying for a broader set of “home monitoring.” Are these advances in Service Cloud 1 and the mobile development platforms a Trojan Horse for mobile, wearables and the Internet of Things in customer and field service?
While wearables represent a quickly growing category of devices from a variety of vendors – and across a variety of industries – they’re still looking for a long-term home.
In case you’re keeping score, wearables today are struggling a bit in the consumer world. The density and complexity of the fitness tracker space specifically is massive. There are a growing number of smartwatches like the Moto 360 and the upcoming – and much anticipated – Apple Watch, and even new hybrid, all-in-one wearables like will.i.am’s recently announced Puls. Then there are the fashionably awkward heads-up display (HUDs) devices to choose from, including Google Glass and Oculus Rift. And just this month, we started talking about “hearables.” I suspect this is just the beginning.
But, How Useful Are They?
Certainly, these devices are designed to attract consumers, particularly early adopters like myself. Depending on the situation, these wearables can come in handy. For example, smartwatches have notification features that help me avoid getting distracted by my smartphone. On the other end of the spectrum, wearable HUD technology remains largely unused because there are no “killer apps” that make them must-have tools. These devices look silly, and people ultimately know they are providing the wearer no real value.
Why invest in a wearable that can’t leave the house? Not to mention, vendors have not yet married the fashion and technology elements; in order to be worn by the mainstream consumer audience, wearables have to look good.
Get Ready for a Breakthrough
I believe the breakthrough and mass adoption opportunity for HUDs and other wearables lies in the customer and field-service world. There are hundreds of examples of where this emerging technology of wearables could quickly come into play across many industries and applications:
- Airlines checking in customers with HUDs upon arrival and then delivering seat-back ordered food and drinks (no more carts in aisles).
- Field service reps scheduling and rerouting to high priority jobs. Will your next plumber or repairman be dispatched via wearable technology and have access to the specifications of your particular equipment via a heads-up display?
- Healthcare workers improving patient care and accuracy through proper identification and medication dosage.
- High-risk workers in manufacturing and engineering roles monitoring safety and best practices through exactly location based wearables.
Salesforce Is Poised to Lead the Pack
The use of real productivity tools for field-service workers is the next logical step, and by introducing tools around wearables and mobile enablement, Salesforce will soon be infiltrating the world of customer service with wearable technologies. After all, hundreds of thousands of Salesforce customers across each of these verticals and many others are already using their ServiceCloud 1 technology.
So it seems no small coincidence that the company is pushing hard on wearables through marketing, innovation and new development tool sets. This Trojan Horse is about to burst open, and it will change the entire industry in a very positive way.