June 25, 2015
Today, we will look at another cultural/organizational challenge to enterprise adoption of wearable technology. We will refer to this challenge as “business process modifications.”
Business Process Modifications
As the enterprise becomes increasingly mobile with the adoption of new technologies, the way we work inevitably changes—business processes are altered, workflows are redesigned, and workers learn to adapt. With the switch over to wearable technology, there are a few aspects of “change management” for enterprises to consider. A lack of such consideration and preparation is where complications and failure breed.
The first aspect to consider is how wearable devices will fit into existing business processes and workflows, or otherwise change those processes. The second is how the technology will affect behavior. Consider a logistics company that is implementing smart glasses in place of traditional hand-held devices for order picking: Is the picking process going to remain the same? Of course not. Are workers going to complete their tasks in the same exact manner as before? No. This may seem common sense (introducing new technology is a big change, duh), but remember that we are still in the early days of wearable tech. A company that thoroughly thinks through the adoption process will not only experience a smoother transition over to wearables, but is also more likely to see a return on its investment.
In rethinking how current business processes can be optimized through wearable technology, it is a mistake to overlook how employees will be affected. (You can’t have order picking without the factory worker.) Key questions for enterprises to address in preparing for the “wearable revolution” include:
- Which processes/tasks in your business could stand to improve through the instant notifications, (real-time) contextual information, and unmatched portability offered by wearables? It has been shown that wearable tech can increase employee engagement and productivity by simplifying tasks; but remember, not all tasks are suited for wearable devices with their tiny screens and maximum mobility.
- What does a worker need to do a particular task? How might a wearable device fit into the actions employees are already doing? How might a wearable make those actions/tasks easier, faster, more effective, and/or safer?
- What systems of information do workers need to access to function in their roles or to perform specific tasks, and how can wearable tech deliver that access or otherwise generate the necessary information?
- What goes into an employee actually using a wearable device? Workers will have to get used to wearing something new every day; they may need to learn how to use the technology (by training) as well as how to manage it (charging & other maintenance tasks). How can wearables be weaved into employees’ daily lives?
The reason “Business Process Modifications” is regarded as a challenge is precisely because wearable technology is such a nascent space. There is no business or industry in which the technology is yet mainstream; there are no standards for adoption in any sector, which is why cross-industry learning – making connections across industry lines in order to come up with best practices for implementing wearables – is key at this moment in time.