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Wearable Technology for Enterprise Applications at EWTS Fall 2017

  • Jon Duncan By

The Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit (EWTS) is the leading event focused on the use of wearable technology (e.g. smart glasses, watches, exoskeletons, etc.) for enterprise applications, and this fall’s summit in Boston has been the biggest and best yet with more than 400 focused attendees. Event attendees include key hardware manufacturers and software developers in the space, as well as organizations that have either successfully deployed wearables or are investigating the technology for their business operations.

Best summarizing what I saw as the overarching message from the show was Peggy Gulick, director of business process improvement at AGCO Corporation, who said:

“We’re not innovators; we’re just problem-solvers.”

Earlier this year, AGCO successfully deployed Google Glass Enterprise Edition equipped with informed reality apps (a form of augmented reality) across their manufacturing programs. The technology has significantly increased efficiency, quality and safety for AGCO’s workers.

Understanding Gulick’s insight is key when dealing with an emerging technology such as wearables. When it comes to new and innovative technologies, organizations tend to spend too much time focusing on the technology itself and not enough defining the problem they need to solve.

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Others echoed similar wisdom, including:

  • Jay Kothari, project lead for Glass at X, talked about how Glass made the shift from fashion to function based on learnings during their Glass Explorer program. This was the time between the first and second iteration of Glass where they worked with customers to solve business problems. In this case, although Google made changes to glass based on feedback from customers, the key learning was understanding and embracing the entire ecosystem of which the smart glasses were a part: hardware, applications, management software, user preferences and change management.
  • Yann Velsin, mechanical operations planning and performance manager at Keolis Commuter Services, talked through his use case of repairing and troubleshooting trains. The logisitics of either getting techinicians to trains requiring repair or getting the trains to the techinicians was a major pain point. In this case, the company realized that information is king and that utilizing a remote presence solution could greatly “increase the speed of which decisions could be made” and, ultimately, how quickly trains could get back in service.
  • Brock McKeel, senior director of central operations for customer experience and mobility at Walmart, talked about the challenge of training a transient workforce for unique events such as Black Friday. Through the use of virtual reality (VR) technology, they were able to accurately depict possible customer service situations for associates that, otherwise, they would only be able to discuss on paper. VR creates an immersive experience for individual users, but interestingly, by projecting this to others in the training room to discuss as a group, they vastly improved the training and experience for both new and seasoned associates.
  • Todd Wynne, director of applied technology at Rogers-O’Brien Construction, talked through the literal pain points of a construction worker tying wires over his head. To illustrate this difficulty, he encouraged everyone in the audience to try and hold their hands over the head for more than 30 minutes at a time. In this case, by deploying assistive vests, a user was able to comfortably hold their arms above their head for hours at a time, vastly improving productivity and truly changing what was previously possible.

If you’re at EWTS, let’s chat! I’d love to discuss how our VMware AirWatch unified endpoint management (UEM) platform provides a simple, yet robust, solution to manage and support Android- and Windows-based wearables. If you’re not here, let’s still talk. Just leave a comment below.

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Read more about enterprise wearable technology on the AirWatch Blog:

Jon Duncan

Jon Duncan

Jon Duncan is a senior product manager for VMware End-User Computing (EUC).

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