By Sandra Crous (Swanepoel), vice president for Midmarket Africa & Middle East at Sage
Business owners and managers are sceptical about the hype around wearable computing, and rightly so. After all, the first incarnation of the Google Glass eyewear was an experiment that mostly failed, and while the Apple Watch has its fans, it’s safe to say that it has yet to set the world on fire.
Most businesspeople and employees will welcome slick, simple and connected wearable apps and devices that make their lives easier. Our global research shows that the average business spends 86% of its time on data entry and low-value tasks. Teams are forced to wait for between three and 24 hours for access to information about the business. And while this average business uses 13 different apps, only five are connected.
The growing maturity of wearable technologies offers solutions to these challenges. Google has now reconceptualised Google Glass as a solution for industrial companies, with the new Glass Enterprise Edition headset, which will augment users' vision by overlaying information onto what they see in the real world as they work.
Genuinely useful software emerges
In addition to the innovations we are seeing in wearable platforms, software developers are now putting more thought into how they can support wearable computers with genuinely useful applications. Next-generation cloud business solutions, like Sage Live, are optimised to work with wearable platforms like Apple Watch, giving you a convenient way to access or record information while you’re on the move.
While mobile phones and laptops gave us mobility, wearables now mean you can react instantaneously to business updates – and this can have a significant impact on your bottom line. For example, we envisage people enjoying features like these in the near future:
- A procurement officer sees your purchase order alert on her smartwatch, and can discretely approve it while she’s sitting in a meeting.
- Your sales manager gets an alert when a popular item is out of stock, so that he doesn’t sell something you don’t have in your inventory at his customer meeting; meanwhile, the merchandising team can be alerted to order more stock of the hot product.
- Your technical team gets notified the moment a big order comes in so that they can allocate an engineer to do the installation.
- The customer service head receives a message when an important customer has escalated a complaint.
Everywhere you go, take your business with you
Wearables free you from having to carry around a laptop, tablet, or even smartphone, while ensuring you can still access e-mail, make phone calls, or check your schedule. They also allow you to approve information straightaway – so you don’t need to take out your laptop to approve a receipt while you’re with a client.
Most new technologies go through a cycle of hype and disappointment before they become truly useful and mainstream—and wearables are not an exception to this rule. But we are starting to see them become as cool and useful as the fitness wearable you use to track your calorie intake and your cycling performance during your leisure time. Wearables will play as major a role in the future of accountancy, just as tablets and smartphones before them.