Apple's iWatch Will Impact Workforce Enablement And Customer Interactions

Tomorrow, Apple will reportedly unveil its wearable device, widely dubbed "iWatch" (though we don't yet know for certain what Apple will actually call the device). I'll be at the event in person along with a number of Forrester analysts. In advance of the event, my colleague James McQuivey and I have released two new reports -- one targeted at CMOs and one targeted at I&O professionals -- to preview what we think this release will mean. 

We've been thinking about the ramifications for several months, though we held the report until right before the event. I've been writing about wearables for well over a year, and back in February I authored a column for ComputerWorld in which I laid out what we would hope to see in the perfect smartwatch. Some of the elements of a perfect smartwatch I emphasized then were:

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Salesforce Wear Continues To Drive Wearable Innovations

Today Salesforce.com offered a formal update on its Salesforce Wear offering (which I wrote about at its release here). Salesforce Wear is a set of developer tools and reference applications that allows enterprises to create applications for an array of wearable devices and link them to Salesforce1, a cloud based platform that connects customers with apps and devices.

Salesforce’s entry into the wearables space has been both bold and well-timed. Salesforce Wear constitutes a first mover in the wearables platform space; while Android Wear offers a platform, it only reaches Android Wear based devices – unlike Salesforce Wear, which operates across a wide array of wearable devices. While it’s early to market, it’s not too early: Enterprises in a wide array of verticals are leveraging wearables worn by employees or by customers to redesign their processes and customer experiences, as I have written.

With today’s announcement, Salesforce:

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Wearables Shouldn’t Be An Exercise In Screen Miniaturization

Too many wearables today have screens that look like miniaturized smartphones.

Just as smartphones shouldn’t be PC screens shrunk down to a 4-5” screen, smartwatches shouldn’t look like smartphones shrunk to 1”. Nor is it a matter of responsive web design (RWD), which resizes web content to fit the screen.

Samsung's Gear 2 looks like a tiny smartphone screen.

Instead, it’s a different type of design philosophy – one with DNA in the mobile revolution, and then extending mobile thinking even further.

Let’s start with the concept of mobile moments. As my colleagues write in The Mobile Mind Shift, mobile moments are those points in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context. In the case of wearables, the wearer often won’t need to pull out a device – it’s affixed to her wrist, clothing, or eyeglasses. But she might need to lift her wrist, as a visitor to Disney World must do with MagicBand.

Now we’re getting closer to what wearables should be. But there are additional dimensions to wearables that obviate the need for pixel-dense screens:

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Privacy Won’t Derail Wearables, But Could Undermine Your Company

Wearables are opening up exciting new scenarios for consumers and enterprise users alike, but the wider conversation on wearables has taken a privacy-oriented turn. The New York Times and WIRED, among others, have covered the emerging privacy concerns associated with wearable devices.

Particular ire has developed against Google Glass. An online activist group, Stop the Cyborgs, opposes Google Glass and related wearables, which the organization says will "normalize ubiquitous surveillance." Stop the Cyborgs offers downloads of anti-Glass graphics for posting in public places and online to spread the message that wearables are inherent privacy violators.

In a major new Forrester report, we present data and insights to help Infrastructure & Operations professionals who are piloting or planning to trial wearables navigate the privacy waters. As a teaser, here are some of our findings:

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How Mobile Technologies Can Turbo-Charge Customer Loyalty And Customer Experience

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on Hilton’s plans to invest $550 million in technology solutions that will empower guests to use “smartphones to choose rooms, check in and even unlock doors.” From the customer’s perspective, such a system – if implemented properly – solves a number of problems: Ensuring the best available room choice (as with airline seat choosing apps); no more waiting in line just to check-in; no more lost (or demagnetized) hotel room key cards.

From Hilton’s perspective, the business benefits could be substantial: Driving loyalty and active preference for Hilton hotels; better customer satisfaction and customer experience scores; and up-sell to more services. For example, at check-in, promotions for room upgrades can be presented right on the user’s smartphone, potentially increasing the chance of acceptance.

Disney's MagicBand: A $1 Billion Technology Investment In Customer Experience

Yet it’s not just Hilton – nor just smartphones – at play here. Starwood is rolling out similar functionality in its apps for W Hotels and aloft. Other mobile solutions employ wearable technologies in “B2B2C” scenarios – i.e. instances in which the company provides the wearable tech to customers:

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Where Does Windows 8.1 Stand With Enterprises And Users?

Since the original release of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012, the operating system has benefitted from two major updates — Windows 8.1 (in October, 2013) and the Update to Windows 8.1 (in April, 2014). With these updates, Microsoft sought to address a variety of user concerns and feedback, including some major revisions to the user interface. In the latest update, Microsoft has introduced some useful new features like the ability to right-click from the Start Screen:

We've just released a new report assessing the status of the Update to Windows 8.1 and what it means for enterprises. Whoa — hold on, you might say: Isn't Windows 7 the enterprise standard now? Does Windows 8.1 matter to the enterprise at all?

Indeed, Windows 7 remains the enterprise standard; most enterprises have only recently weaned themselves fully off of XP. But Windows 8.1 does matter in the enterprise, for several reasons:

  • Infrastructure buyers are interested in Windows 8.1 devices. In more than 50 recent inquiries with Forrester, clients asked about laptop replacement scenarios for Windows 8 devices. I&O pros tell Forrester that they like the idea of deploying replacement devices that are two-in-one laptop replacements — that is, devices used both for mobile tablet scenarios and then back at the desk with a mouse and a keyboard. 2-in-1 can conceivably save them money; rather than buying a laptop and a tablet, they like the idea of providing one device that can fill both purposes. They also cite manageability, the ability to domain-join the devices, legacy application compatibility, and other reasons for their interest.
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Salesforce Wear Aims To Turbo-Charge Both Enterprise And B2B2C Wearables Markets

On June 10, Salesforce.com announced Salesforce Wear, a bundle of free tools and reference applications aimed at evangelizing the power of enterprise wearables. The offering supports six different wearable devices, each with its own open-source reference application to help developers design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.

Salesforce Wear has the potential to turbo-charge the growing market for enterprise wearables. Enterprises using Salesforce Wear will gain tools and reference applications that immediately apply to six wearable devices: three smart watches (Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Android Wear), plus Google Glass, the Myo armband, and Bionym’s Nymi authentication device.

Some of the reference applications are pure enterprise/B2B workforce enablement applications, like the Google Glass application for oil rigs, which can be generalized to other field service scenarios (and which, conceptually, I have written about before). Salesforce Wear’s app facilitates real-time field actions by providing schematics of the equipment being serviced, offering a view into the full service history of the equipment, and connecting field workers to colleagues for real-time collaboration. All in all, the reference app helps field workers fix problems more quickly and effectively.

Salesforce Wear's Casino Reference Application with the Bionym Nymi Band. Source: Salesforce

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Microsoft's New Surface Makes A Strong Case For Device Consolidation

Yesterday, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3, a 12" touchscreen device billed as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Sporting some hard-core computing bona fides (including Intel processors and Windows 8.1) and new innovations (like an active stylus that activates note-taking outside of the lock screen), the device in its third generation offers a new level of mobility despite having a larger screen than its predecessors in the Surface line. It's worth taking a look at:

Microsoft designed the Surface Pro 3 with a variety of seemingly incremental improvements that, once assembled in the same device, make it surprisingly innovative. In fact, you should think about it as quite a departure from the earlier Surface models. With this product, Microsoft makes its best yet argument for device consolidation for the workforce, potentially allowing some workers to stop carrying separate laptop and tablet devices in favor of Pro 3. For consumers, the Surface Pro 3 doesn't act as a substitute for popular 8" form factor tablets, but it might make for a good laptop replacement.

That's not to say it's (to quote the cliche) any sort of "iPad killer"; the starting price of a Surface Pro 3 is higher than the iPad's starting price. It's more like a successor to the laptop -- but one that takes mobility quite seriously. Altogether, it's likely to be popular among prosumers, BYOD consumers, and perhaps some other segments.

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Google Glass Helps Enterprise Workers Help Themselves

Google recently announced an expansion of its Explorer Edition program to anyone in the U.S. — still at $1,500. This doesn't constitute the mass market release of the product; it's an incremental move to extend its beta program. I believe the move mostly benefits enterprise customers of the device — continuing Forrester's research call that Glass will be more successful among enterprise customers than among consumers, at least in the short term.

Recently, I've received a number of questions about wearables as they pertain to field service work. In the age of the customer, field service work has a direct impact on customer service. Think of the cable repair person. The top reason cable repair people fail to fix a problem with your cable service on the first visit is that they have never seen the specific problem before; it's a long tail of possible problems. Traditionally, the cable person would need to go back to headquarters and log a return visit -- inconveniencing the customer, who might have stayed home from work to meet the repair person, and harming the workforce productivity of the cable company's agents. It's lose-lose.

With wearables, cable companies and other companies employing field workers can increase the percentage of first-time fixes. Recently, ClickSoftware and FieldBit posted a video demonstrating one such solution:

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Using Google Glass In Patient-Facing Healthcare Scenarios

Google Glass is finally being explicitly positioned for enterprise usage -- a concession to the great interest found in many vertical industries (and also among developers who sell to those industries) for using Glass to attract, retain, and serve customers. We'd predicted this trend and have been helping clients in a variety of contexts to design their own enterprise wearables strategies.

For the healthcare vertical, SAP posted a video that has been little seen -- but which deserves more attention -- that helps illustrate some of the detailed usage cases for Google Glass in a hospital context. SAP's HANA platform (about which you can read more via my colleagues Andrew Bartels and Paul Hammerman here or Noel Yuhanna here) empowers a nurse to complete all the tasks in her rounds:

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