1. Answer the Case Study Questions (found at the end of each case study) in 500-750 words total (not including reference list).
2. Include at least one additional, external reference to sources such as an article or video. Cite the reference(s) in your study.
Your case study will be graded on the following:
Grading: 20 points
Content 80% (how thoroughly and logically you answer the questions, how well you incorporate your reference(s), how well you make arguments and state facts to support your answers).
Interactive Session: Technology Wearable Computers Change How We Work
It looks like wearable computing is taking off. Smartwatches, smart glasses, smart ID badges, and activity trackers promise to change how we go about each day and the way we do our jobs. According to an April 2015 report surveying 2,400 U.S. CIOs by IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology, 81 percent expect wearable computing devices such as watches and glasses to become common workplace tools.
Doctors and nurses are using smart eyewear for hands-free access to patients’ medical records. Oil rig workers sport smart helmets to connect with land-based experts, who can view their work remotely and communicate instructions. Warehouse managers are able to capture real-time performance data using a smartwatch to better manage distribution and fulfillment operations. Wearable computing devices improve productivity by delivering information to workers without requiring them to interrupt their tasks, which in turn empowers employees to make more informed decisions more quickly.
Although primarily consumer devices, smartwatches are being used for business. The Apple Watch, for example, has a number of features to make employees more productive. It can take phone calls and accept voice commands. It will display an important message, e-mail, or calendar appointment on your wrist. Instead of buzzing loudly and with every e-mail, text message, and calendar alert you receive, the watch uses subtle, discreet vibrations that won’t be a distraction in the middle of a meeting. There are Apple Watch versions of Evernote (note taking), PowerPoint (electronic presentations), and Invoice2go, which will automatically prompt you to start logging your work time as soon as you arrive at a job site, send basic invoices, and receive alerts when they’re paid.
Salesforce.com has developed several enterprise applications for the Apple Watch. Salesforce1 for Apple Watch delivers instant notifications to salespeople, service agents, and other business users to help speed up their work. For example, sales managers can receive a discount approval request and take action right from the watch. Customer service managers can receive alerts if a critical case requires immediate attention or call wait times are about to exceed thresholds. Digital marketers can be alerted when a marketing campaign surpasses a goal. Salesforce Analytics for Apple Watch enables Salesforce customers to use analytics data delivered to their smartwatches to view performance metrics, uncover new insights, and take action with dashboards. Users will also be able to query via Voice Search to access a report, view a dashboard, or find other information.
Global logistics company DHL worked with Ricoh, the imaging and electronics company, and Ubimax, a wearable computing services and solutions company, to implement “vision picking” in its warehouse operations. Location graphics are displayed on smartglasses guiding staffers through the warehouse to both speed the process of finding items and reduce errors. The company says the technology delivered a 25 percent increase in efficiency.
Right now, vision picking gives workers locational information about the items they need to retrieve and allows them to automatically scan retrieved items. Future enhancements will enable the system to plot optimal routes through the warehouse, provide pictures of items to be retrieved (a key aid in case an item has been misplaced on the warehouse shelves), and instruct workers on loading carts and pallets more efficiently.
Southern Co., an Atlanta-based energy company, is experimenting with several different wearables in its power plants and its power distribution and transmission pipeline. Southern recently deployed both head-mounted and wrist-mounted computers and performed several “proofs of concept” with Google Glass, Apple Watch, and the Moto 360 Android Wear device. The proofs of concept focused on enhancing plant workers’ ability to follow documented procedures more accurately and to document adherence to those procedures. The company also piloted Bluetooth video cameras worn on the head for documenting work processes and for videoconferencing between field personnel and central office personnel. Southern Co. now uses head-worn cameras in some plants and field locations.
At Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, guests are issued a MagicBand, a radio frequency identification (RFID) wristband, which serves as their hotel room key and park entrance ticket and can be assigned a PIN and linked to a credit card to make purchases. The wristband is also used to link photos to guest accounts and will soon connect to a vacation-planning system. Staff are equipped with long-range RFID readers so they can personally greet guests. Aggregated RFID data will be used to minimize attraction wait times. Messages entice guests to relocate to less busy areas of the park. FastPass+, Disney’s ride reservation system, allocates guests to the most popular attractions by assigning one-hour return windows for express entrance.
The value of wearable computing devices isn’t from transferring the same information from a laptop or smartphone to a smartwatch or eyeglass display. Rather, it’s about finding ways to use wearables to augment and enhance business processes. Successful adoption of wearable computing depends not only on cost effectiveness but on the development of new and better apps and integration with existing IT infrastructure and the organization’s tools for managing and securing mobile devices (see the chapter-ending case study.)
Sources: Mary K. Pratt, “Wearables in the Enterprise? Yes, Really!” Computerworld, February 24, 2016; www.salesforce.com , accessed May 5, 2016; Bob Violino, “Wearables in the Workplace: Potential and Pitfalls,” Baseline, September 9, 2015; Brett Nuckles, “Apple Watch: Is It Good for Business?” Business News Daily, May 12, 2015; Dennis McCafferty, “Why Wearable Tech Needs Killer Business Apps,” CIO Insight, May 1, 2015; and Daisuke Wakabayashi, “What Exactly Is an Apple Watch For?” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2015.
Case Study Questions
1. Wearables have the potential to change the way organizations and workers conduct business. Discuss the implications of this statement.
2. How would a business process such as ordering a product for a customer in the field be changed if the salesperson was wearing a smartwatch equipped with Salesforce software?
3. What management, organization, and technology issues would have to be addressed if a company was thinking of equipping its workers with a wearable computing device?
4. What kinds of businesses are most likely to benefit from wearable computers? Select a business and describe how a wearable computing device could help that business improve operations or decision making.