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Should mobile strategy include wearable apps?

Wearable devices offer new possibilities for interacting with cloud and Web content, but most applications remain firmly linked to parent devices.

Wearable devices -- such as the Apple Watch -- are making inroads with consumers, but it remains unclear whether...

these emerging technologies will find a niche in the enterprise or become a standard component of mobile strategy.

Wearable devices are part of the Internet of Things, a broad field that encompasses basically any device with embedded systems that are capable of transmitting data over a wireless network. While wearable apps offer the prospect of additional convenience for users, significant challenges remain for developers in terms of screen size and designing meaningful tasks that fit the wearable format.

Real Story Group analyst Apoorv Durga said that one answer, at least in the short term, is having wearable apps linked to counterparts on larger devices, such as a smartphone.

When does it make sense to incorporate wearable devices into mobile strategy?

Apoorv Durga: Wearable devices are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Broadly, there are two types of IoT devices. Some have nothing to do with mobile devices, such as monitors used by the energy industry to track environmental conditions. Others, such as the Apple Watch, center on interacting with another mobile device. Those are relevant to Web content management (WCM) strategy and it makes sense to include them in your mobile strategy.

Apps on the Apple Watch are actually controlled by an equivalent app on your IPhone. You use that mobile device to configure the wearable app and to display information. For example, a wearable health app could provide information on the number of steps you took during a walk.

You can technically use an Apple Watch without an iPhone, but its utility would be minimal.

Which industries are poised to benefit most from incorporating wearable devices with mobile strategy?

Durga: I would say consumer-focused businesses, not necessarily B2B, but mostly B2C, for online shopping or retail.

Healthcare is at the forefront of the wearable revolution. A lot of health sensors are typically built into wearable devices, so information about vital [health] statistics can be integrated with content stored in a WCM -- information about doctors, hospitals and trainers, for example. I think it would make a lot of sense for those applications to have wearable devices as part of their WCM strategy.

Will wearable devices find applications within the enterprise?

Durga: Let's say you have a knowledge management system and somebody uploads a new version of a document you were collaborating on. An update notification could be sent to your watch.

It could also help with approving changes to document, if it's just matter of clicking to approve or reject changes.

To what extent are wearable devices affecting enterprise Web content management strategy for businesses?

Durga: It's not reached a critical level, but a lot of the customers we talk with are experimenting and doing prototypes. All of them want to know what else they can do with it.

I've seen one customer demo for an automobile showroom, where if you visit the showroom and approach a particular model of car, some key information about that vehicle would be sent to your Apple Watch. That information was stored in a Web content management system. It's still in the prototype stage, but a lot of customers are doing experiments like this.

One thing we can say for sure is that wearable devices are here. They are popular with consumers, but we don't yet know whether they will become big within the enterprise scenario.

Next Steps

Mobile strategy must include context and location

Mobile content adapts for business tasks

IoT standards remain fragmented

This was last published in August 2015

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Are wearable apps part of your mobile strategy? Why or why not?
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At this current point in time, they are not. Granted, that may change if the need for signalling or getting a notification to someone becomes a compelling notion. At the moment, getting push notifications on handheld devices is enough of a focus for the time being.
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Currently, they are not. Mainly because we don't have them ourselves for testing and the second thing is that our users hardly use them yet. We typically perform a survey with users in order to identify the devices for our purchase/testing.
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Thank you for reading and your feedback! I really enjoyed talking with Apoorv on this topic. I did put that question to him near the end of our interview, and his sense was that wearables hadn't yet reached a critical mass, but businesses are definitely curious about what it can do for them, going forward. I think the key here is designing meaningful tasks that are a natural fit for wearables. It will be interesting to see what responses to that challenge are put forward in the near future. 
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Slowly. We're incorporating a few watches now, only because they provide quick access to the phones with all the data. I'm sure we'll add temperature trackers before too long, but they mostly fall into the consumer/toy category. The rest will follow I suspect. 

Then again, explain how a set of headphones connected to a smart phone isn't a wearable, too....
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It will be interesting, for sure. Thanks for reading and responding! 
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I think they have to be part of any mobile AND BYOD strategy. If they are part of the landscape and help people be more productive, then they should be addressed. The trouble - and this is similar in the Android arena of different OSs and devices - is that wearables are frequently different devices, operating systems and security levels. It's a learning curve that I trust my IT pros to tackle, but they better be able to stay up-to-date so we remain secure.
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As for a business, or sales, or marketing strategy - it's not my specialty.

As for software quality and testing - everything must be considered in the strategy. Sometimes we don't get to test a specific device or configuration, but to consider it, as well as to inform our clients of possible risks, - is what responsible testers do.
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Thank you for the perspective. I got the sense during this interview that businesses certainly are interested in the idea of wearables, even if a lot of the use cases are still in the piloting phase. It'll be interesting to check back in 6 months or a year, see how things shake out. 
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No. Still to gimmicky and do not see a real business need. If we were to consider it the cost to provide equal access for all would be to costly.
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I think you have the first adopters, folks who are curious and then professionals who earnestly believe wearables will assist them in being successful. My understanding and belief is if I can't use my BYOD to capture, share, access and adjust data and materials, what is a Google Glass or iWatch going to do for me? Those are just hyped products that don't YET have a place in the productivity landscape. And many (including the iWatch) actually require you to have a second BYOD on your person anyhow. So why complicate things? Ignore wearables until someone who has more $$ and time to burn figures out a way to make them actually contributing devices to your business.
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If I were doing some kind of a job that needed to collect personal data from me of a health nature, then yes, I would very much support using key tools like a fitbit or an Apple Watch. Outside of that, i really can't see much in the way of logic towards developing apps that are built around wearables. That could, of course, be a lack of imagination on my part.
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Sure, as long as it makes sense for the job being done and the tools are available. Quick data, schematics while you work, and workflow are all reasonable uses. But until they exist, maybe not so much.
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Great comments all around, thanks. I think this whole question of whether/how wearables will take off is fascinating. Definitely going to follow new developments as they arise.
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That comes down to a problem they should solve or benefit to offer.
For example, many apps on my iPhone - Scannable, Skitch, Dragon Dictate - might be more convenient as a device on itself, at least in the context of my usage of them.
At the same time, we have so much radiation already, and it's certainly unnatural for the tissue and cells. The effects of increase of the exposure - time-wise and amount-wise, are to be carefully monitored.

There is also a niche where they would fit very well - assistive technologies for the people with special needs. 
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Just a fad in my opinion. Why is there a need to make things smaller and smaller? Call me old school but I still prefer a desktop or laptop. If on the go I take my tablet due to longer battery life. There are not enough apps I would use.
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