Enterprise Wearables: Developer Market Opportunity

Enterprise wearables present an interesting developer market opportunity. This week’s Economist article,The Wear, Why and How,” this section stood out:

“The next stage in wearables’ development may be led by business users. It is still early days. “Everything I am seeing is trials,” says Arnie Lund, a senior engineer at General Electric. Yet wearable devices would be useful in the workplace in all sorts of ways. … Consumers may benefit in the end, but the buyers of the wearable devices will be businesses.

     For companies the cost of kitting out their staff with smartwear is less of a problem than building the computer systems needed to support such devices and process their data. This can cost $500,000 or more for each application, says Dave Miller of Covisint, a technology firm.”

Two interesting points around the wearable: First, the article suggests, rightly, that the biggest growth in wearables will come from the enterprise (“business users”). We’ve seen this in so many segments, including mobile. The buzz, the news coverage and the startups tend to focus around consumer applications. So while those applications are interesting and worthwhile, opportunity lies in the enterprise.

Second, check out the bold section of the quote above: it’s the computer systems that will cost more — and take more time — than the actual distribution and maintenance of devices. As more devices and sensors infiltrate the enterprise, the software development needs will increase dramatically. As we alluded to in this recent Quick Take, the devices and sensors are only the most visible part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Software and data — mostly cloud-based — are just as essential.

And that’s the key takeaway: the visible “wearable” is only the tip of the iceberg. The business users are just beginning, and, in turn, developers will fill huge software needs for those uses. The business opportunity for those providing developers with services and products is similar in potential. How can your offering serve this nascent need?