Salesforce continues to drive wearable innovations

Salesforce’s entry into the wearables space has been both bold and well-timed.
Written by J.P. Gownder, Contributor

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:

  • Broadens its coverage to new wearable devices... Salesforce added five devices to its lineup, bringing the total to eleven. Newcomers Epson Moverio, Jawbone UP, Vuzix M100, Meta Spaceglasses, and Oculus Rift join Pebble, Samsung Gear, Google Glass, Moto360, Myo, and Bionym Nymi band in the lineup. Salesforce had said previously that they would continue to expand the portfolio of supported devices to meet customer demand, so this move was expected. Because wearables are a long tail market, the value proposition of Salesforce Wear in part derives from the fact that it empowers a wide array of devices – allowing customers to design wearable solutions that fit specific circumstances.
  • …particularly in the area of heads-up displays (HUDs). Proving that Google Glass isn’t the only smartglasses game in town, Salesforce Wear added four new HUDs – three for augmented reality (worn while doing other tasks in the real world) and one, Oculus, for virtual reality (worn to create virtual environments while stationary). Epson and Vuzix already have an enterprise track record, as I’ve written about HERE. One benefit? While facial recognition is banned by Google from Google Glass, other HUDs can support it; Salesforce revealed that FacialNetwork, a HospitalityID app, allows customer service reps wearing smart glasses to identify guests using instant facial recognition technology.
  • Offers a glimpse into how its customers are leveraging Salesforce Wear. Salesforce.com also shared a number of stories about how its customers have been using the platform. Some solutions focus on workforce solutions: ClickSoftware’s ShiftExpert app leverages Samsung Gear II smartwatches to enable employees to clock in and out from shifts, automatically entering the data into timesheets – and sending reminder notifications if the worker is in danger of being late for a shift. Other solutions enable workers to create VIP experiences (which I’ve written about here): Proximity Insight’s app for Android Wear smartwatches alerts workers when a VIP has come into physical range, allowing retail employees to greet the customer right away. A final set of solutions are worn by customers themselves: 2lemetry’s SafetyCare system is worn by elderly patients, who can swipe across the smartwatch screen to summon assistance from a caregiver.

Salesforce Wear is living up to my early assessment that it would be an engine of innovation for the wearables market. It’s helping companies innovate in workforce enablement and in crafting new wearable-powered customer experiences, whether the devices are worn by employees or by customers. It’s worth checking out if you are currently devising wearables strategies of your own.

J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder

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