According to American research firm Gartner, companies who equip their field sales staff with smart glasses could save over a billion dollars in the next three to five years. One in ten companies will have implemented such technology by 2018, it says. Gartner’s research director, Angela McIntyre, believes that over the next ten years, the technology will become more affordable, helping smart glasses become firmly established in the corporate mainstream as an efficiency-boosting tool. The only shortcoming so far is the absence of a service provider network and useful apps designed to simplify complex tasks.
– Gartner predicts that smart glasses will have the biggest impact in manufacturing, for example in the oil and gas industry. This is because smart glasses can be used to support workers in completing individual tasks and enable workers to have both hands free to perform their manual activities. The tool can also help employees learn about new methods and equipment – on-site training could in fact be partially replaced via the device.
– However, Gartner does not foresee this technology having as significant an impact in the retail, consumer goods, or health services industries. The only real benefit it sees for companies in these sectors is smart glasses’ ability to extract information by merely “looking” at barcodes.
The likes of Google Glass: also effective in insurance, media, and finance sectors
In the insurance, media, and finance sectors, Gartner expects only minimal efficiency gains through the use of smart glasses. Insurance agents could, for example, visit customers to inspect any reported damage on-site using the device and view the insurance policy to identify which claims he or she can make. Financial institutions and the media industry, meanwhile, could send their customers and readers up-to-date information via smart glasses as a subscribed service.
Next page: Smart glasses: five benefits at a glance
Gartner has identified the following benefits for companies planning to use smart glasses in the near future:
1. Virtual assistance: Instruction manuals and illustrations make it easier for employees to complete their daily tasks. Employees no longer need to memorize all processes, which at times can be complex; instead, they can now display individual process steps on their smart glasses. What’s more, smart glasses act as virtual assistants that enable employees to work with both hands. One particular advantage of this is that newcomers to a work area can display all relevant procedures and processes directly on their smart glasses and don’t necessarily need to be supported by a colleague.
2. Video collaboration: Experts in remote company locations can participate in projects thanks to video technology. “Shared videos” enable experts to instruct their colleagues even when off-site. As such, they are a quick and easy way for employees to get expert advice when tackling problems. This, says Gartner, puts companies in a position to send less experienced sales staff out into the field; after all, they can always use their smart glasses to connect with more experienced sales colleagues if and when required.
3. Video streams: Inspectors can use video streams to show they have completed an inspection and to verify that everything is in order. This is particularly helpful for service providers required to confirm that their field staff (who work independently and without supervision) have carried out the work as required. Video streams could also prove useful for insurance claims adjusters, property appraisers, and couriers, says Gartner.
4. On-the-job training: Smart glasses can lower your costs and overheads for hands-on instruction and on-site training courses. Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen calls this “on-the-job training.”
5. Second opinions: In the health care sector, for example, smart glasses can facilitate consultation between clinical specialists seeking to obtain a second opinion from experts at other hospitals. They are also a very effective tool in telemedicine: the face recognition function of smart glasses allows the doctor treating patients from afar to access the relevant patient data. As a result, the doctor no longer has to entrust the assistant doctor with this task or even dig through the paper files.
Smart glasses: A reason to adjust BYOD strategies
For Gartner analysts, these are more than enough reasons for companies to start using smart glasses – and to adjust their bring-your-own-device strategies. Because pretty soon, employees will be bringing their own smart glasses to work, too.