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The Disruptors: Tech Dress for the Workplace

February 16, 2015 by Judith Magyar 0

The Disruptors is a series of short stories of customer innovation from around the world.

From smart watches to headgear, the dress code for the workplace is going tech-chic. Two SAP customers are at the vanguard.

There’s nothing new about wearable technology. Calculator watches were popular in the 1970’s, and wristwatches were invented in the 1880’s when soldiers tied their pocket watches with leather straps around their wrists, freeing their hands for battle. What is new are the mind-boggling numbers.

According to experts, by 2017, 50% of all mobile app interactions will take  place on wearable devices, and by 2018, the global work wearables market will be at $20.6 billion (see infographic below). The main advantage of these devices, which incorporate augmented reality (AR) software, is that workers get instructions through voice functionality and visuals so they can focus on the task at hand, increasing efficiency and safety. Today, experts say adoption of wearables at work will outpace it at home thanks to impoved safety, productivity, and collaboration.

Safety in the middle of nowhere

Mik Pedersen, an IT manager with DONG Energy, a world leader in offshore wind farms, says augmented reality apps enable the company to produce clean energy under challenging conditions.

“Our technicians are using voice-driven apps to perform maintenance on turbines in the middle of the ocean, hundreds of meters in the air,” he told Rick Costanzo, General Manager of SAP’s Mobile/Telco unit in a video interview.

It’s really simple: a request for field service comes in, a technician gets dispatched to the site, and upon arrival, the app delivers step-by-step instructions on what needs to be done and what safety issues need to be considered. It also allows the technician to file reports, order parts, access documentation, and dial in an expert, all while performing the actual repair job.

Swisscom says be prepared

Jörg Knauss, Chief Solution Architect for wearables at Swisscom, sees the mobile device as the extension of the human body. Working with SAP 3D Visual  Enterprise, Swisscom has developed a maintenance scenario for coffee machines leveraging mobile devices and Google Glasses, with the added perk of delivering the spare parts in real time with a 3D printer!

“Our clients want to know how wearables and AR technology can help them when it comes to the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. We’re still at an early stage, but that will change fast. We tell customers to be ready for the fourth-generation wearables that will be available in two years,” says Knauss.

The tool of the future

While the battle for the wrist is still fiercest in the consumer space, it is fast gaining ground in the enterprise.

At the SAP S/4HANA launch this week, SAP Executive Board member Bernd Leukert showed how a field technician (59:40) can be connected to the decision support system through a smart watch, and Steve Lucas, President of Platform Solutions, also uses a smart watch to mobilize the salesforce (1:00:00).

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