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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Use Technology To Drive In-Store Customer Engagement

Hot on the heels of our recent report Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future, I've just released some follow-up research: Brief: Using Technology To Drive In-Store Customer Engagement

The I&O role continues to notably evolve from a mere IT role to becoming a BT -- Business Technology -- role. This means taking an increasingly role in empowering customer-facing technologies. And as I&O pros shift toward becoming customer enablers, you should begin to closely track -- and to pilot -- a number of emerging technologies that can help your company attract, retain, and serve customers. Currently, myriad solutions exist; as one start-up vendor told me, "there are so many new technologies out there, it's hard for buyers to decide where to place their bets, so we just try to get our products into trial to prove the value." While the number of these technologies (and their vendors) is great, they tend to share one or more of the following characteristics. As you read the list, ask yourself the question associated with each factor:

  • Hyper-local. Are you experimenting with technologies that engage customers on a highly geographic (e.g. within 1 foot) basis? (Example: iBeacon)
  • Targeted. Are you piloting any technologies that can customize customer engagement based on who they are or what they feel? (Example: Facial Recognition)
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iPhone Up, iPad Down: What Apple's Device Mix Says About Mobile Devices

Apple's reported earnings revealed a strong product mix contrast: iPhone sales increased 17% in units and 14% in revenues, while iPad sales decreased 16% in units and 13% in revenues. What accounts for this contrast? Is the iPad's growth trajectory broken?

Simply put, the iPhone's addressable market has only continued to increase with Apple's continued international expansion. Only recently, for example, has Apple broken out in Japan (still the world's third-largest economy); only a few months after releasing the 5S and 5C across all three of Japan's largest carriers, iPhone models made up 9 of the top 10 phones sold. And for iPhone, unlike iPad, the route to sales comes through carrier relationships -- of which Apple has landed more recently.

By contrast, the iPad's year-over-year results lagged because:

  • Price competition in tablets has been fierce. With Android tablets under $200 now commonplace -- including Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX -- Apple's premium pricing is catching up to it. 
  • Replacement rates are lower than expected. Why are prices catching up to iPad now? Because replacement rates haven't been as quick as with iPhone. The pace at which people purchase smartphones is quicker than that of iPads, even among the Apple faithful. This means that Apple is seeking an ever expanding market -- people without tablets. For later adopters, who didn't see the big deal early on, price matters more than for earlier adopters.
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Why Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future

The Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) role is changing significantly: I&O pros are increasingly helping to drive business strategies with the technologies they choose and implement. Business leaders tell Forrester that technology is too important to leave to technology managers alone; they are pushing their I&O colleagues to explore the business value associated with the technologies they choose, implement, and manage. I&O pros, in turn, tell us that their jobs are changing. As one I&O pro put it, “I’ve been an infrastructure manager for 15 years, but only in the past 3 have I been asked to construct a business plan and be part of the business planning team.”

Figure: Burberry's Technology-Powered Flagship Store In London

For I&O pros in retail and related verticals like hospitality (or for anyone involved in creating in-person experiences), we’ve just released a report to help aid this transition. Along with my co-author Michele Pelino, we’ve just released the report “Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future.” The report asserts that I&O pros have an important role to play in helping their companies engage shoppers in experiences that will drive loyalty and spending.

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Google Makes Glass Visible To The Enterprise

Up until this week, Google had remained reticent about speaking of Google Glass as an enterprise tool. Google is a mass-market consumer company whose main revenue streams derive from huge scale; its aspirations for Glass are, presumably, both ambitious and far-reaching. In consequence, Google's leaders want Google Glass on the faces of as many consumers as possible. Enterprise represents, at best, a bit of a diversion from that mass-market ambition.

Nevertheless, as I pointed out in January, Google has begun to tell stories about how Glass can create value in an enterprise setting. Their videos of public safety officials using Glass for firefighting tugged at the heart-strings, even as the NYPD pilots the device as well. But April has seen a flurry of enterprise-related Glass news, including an explicit posting on Google+ about enterprise.

In addition to all those consumer Glass Explorers, "Something we've also noticed and are very excited about is how Explorers are using Glass to drive their businesses forward," Google wrote. "A number of companies have already teamed up with enterprise software developers to create new ways to serve their customers and reach their business goals."

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How to Build the Perfect Smartwatch

It’s time for vendors to step up and build the perfect smartwatch. It’s not really about the device at all, but the ecosystem around the device. Infrastructure & operations professionals have an opportunity here: to work with their business partners and vendors to construct next generation experiences around smartwatches.

For example, retail marketers, always on the hunt for the perfect in-store experiences, and are increasingly turning to mobile technologies to create customized interactions. By opting in to a relationship with a store, a patron can be recognized by name by a sales associate, see the images on digital displays change as she walks by them (tailored to her), receive in-store targeted promotions as she picks up particular products, and even leave the store without handing over any overt form of payment. All of these things are possible with today's technologies.

Scenarios like this one are inherently mobile, but smartphones aren't actually the best vehicle for these experiences. Smartphones can be easily stolen, for one thing, making the retail scenario challenging. And retailers don't want the eyes of patrons who walk into their stores glued to a smartphone; they want those eyes looking around the store.

Smartwatches, on the other hand, can be the perfect enabler of scenarios like this one (and like others in healthcare and other verticals), so long as they have all the necessary components. There are in fact eight strategic pillars for smartwatches:

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Wearables Helping People With Disabilities – A SXSW Talk

Readers of this blog and of my syndicated reports know that I’ve spent a great deal of time lately researching and analyzing the market for wearable devices and the emerging wearables ecosystem. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be co-presenting a talk at SXSW with Jen Quinlan (Twitter: @QuirkyInsider) about a specific sub-segment of the wearables market – how wearable devices, in concert with the Internet of Things, can help people overcome various sorts of disabilities.

Jen conceived of this talk, and was kind enough to invite me to collaborate with her. And I was thrilled, particularly when I heard about the topic she had proposed. Why? I’m interested – and hope you will be too – because:

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