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A brave new world of wearable technology in Asia Pacific

Sowri S. Krishnan, Vice President, Mobility, Cognizant | Jan. 8, 2015
With the buzz around wearables, organisations must realise that the enterprise wearables market is still evolving and should evaluate the core business benefits before implementing this new technology.

Sowri S. Krishnan, Vice President, Mobility, Cognizant

At present, Asia Pacific (APAC) makes up for half of the world's mobile subscribers, and will remain one of the fastest growing mobile markets through 2020 and beyond[1]. The region is fast becoming a powerhouse in driving the mobile sector globally with more than 50 percent of the global mobile phone ownership in 2013[2]. Furthermore, four of the top 15 countries with the highest smartphone penetration rates in the same year hailed from APAC[3]. In 2016, APAC is predicted to account for 57.5 percent of mobile phone users in the world[4] and as much as 40 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2015[5]. According to Nielsen, smartphone penetration in developing APAC markets is also gaining traction-Thailand at 49 percent, Indonesia at 23 percent, India at 18 percent and the Philippines at 15 percent[6].

The region's high mobile and smartphone penetration rates dictate a paradigm technology shift. The mobile phenomenon is further propelled by social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies, which is changing how people, organisations and devices interact. Naturally, this extends to other forms of mobile technology such as wearables and the enterprise wearables market is potentially huge, expected to reach $18 billion by 2019[7]. Smartphones and tablets were the catalysts that steered the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement in the workplace, and now, applications and services will be the fuel to drive the wearable technology fire.

Braving new frontiers — The true potential of wearable technology
The wearable technology trend is mainly driven by people's desires to simplify their lives-by consolidating and analysing data from various sources to better interpret the world around them and provide contextual insights. According to Forrester, although it will take a while for wearables to become ubiquitous in the enterprise, the next few years will see the early adoption of wearables[8]. Wearables range from smart glasses and smart watches, to activity trackers and more, but the key in this transformation is usability in the workplace.

For instance, healthcare organisations can utilise wearables that leverage the capabilities of biometric sensors to remotely and regularly monitor health stats such as blood pressure and sleep patterns. In turn, this grants healthcare workers quick and real-time access to a patient's vital medical information for more effective health reporting and analysis, ultimately improving patient care.

Customer experience in the retail sector can also be transformed with wearable technology. For example, retail organizations can identify customers by harnessing the fields of information surrounding them-their Code Halos resulting from their digital footprints and forming their virtual identities-to break down the barriers between IT and business. Understanding customers' virtual identities based on their smart watches when they enter the physical store allows retail organizations to deliver curated and individualized shopping experience for their customers, according to their unique needs, wants and history, while offering insights.

 

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