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CIO Asia: Cognizant’s Venture Leader of Emerging Business Accelerator Says Wearables in the Workplace are as Much About Increasing Worker Efficiency and Productivity as About Making the Workplace Safer

“Introducing wearables into the workplace brings multiple advantages, including greater employee satisfaction and productivity,” writes Venkataraman Krishnan, Vice President and Venture Leader, Emerging Business Accelerator (EBA) at Cognizant, in an article coauthored with Rajesh Rajagopalan, Associate Director, EBA. Excerpts:

“Some basic challenges remain. How safe is it for employees to walk around with something in their line of sight, especially in hazardous environments such as an oil rig? Will wearables cause more distraction? Interactive capabilities such as capacitive touch and speed commands can be impacted by the external environment. For example, noisy workspace such as the factory floor may render the voice controls function ineffective for smart watches and AR glasses. A worker wearing industrial gloves cannot make use of touch controls on Google Glass. Do companies want to record everything their employees see with their AR glasses without security controls? How comfortable will employees be with this? Highly confidential and, in some cases, classified data pertaining to installations and processes will now need to be protected and controlled.

The real question is how to make the advantages of wearables in the workplace outweigh these concerns. The rule of thumb companies need to go with is to ensure wearables are non-intrusive, performance-boosting accessories that simplify workers’ tasks and do not take away focus from their primary job. Additionally, wearables introduced by organizations should address increasing personal conveniences of the employees.

Wearables come with trade-offs and enterprises looking to embrace them must develop strategies to address these trade-offs. Wearables provide users with relevant, contextual information at the point of decision-making to enable real-time actions. They must be supported by a well-crafted plan that includes IT deployment, business process change and, most importantly, change management. To get started, it is imperative that business processes be reconsidered, various wearable devices and platforms be piloted and evaluated, the right wearable be chosen and designed from the ground up, and the workforce be engaged and its concerns about these devices be addressed.

It is critical that employees perceive wearables as a tool that will help them perform more effectively on the job. Concerns and apprehensions around privacy must be managed and mitigated by being transparent and bringing employees onboard early in the process. It is necessary for enterprises to support workers with digital and just-in-time contextual information. Wearables in the workplace are not just about increasing worker efficiency and productivity, but also about making the workplace safer.”

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