Firms should use their staff as wearables guinea pigs, says Forrester

Analyst believes Virgin Atlantic will be one of many to adopt Google Glass following successful pilot

Companies that want to engage customers with wearables, but are worried about privacy issues, should run pilots with their employees first, a Forrester analyst has said.

Highlighting the success Virgin Atlantic has had with its Upper Class Wing Google Glasses pilot in Heathrow Terminal Three, Forrester analyst, JP Gownder, advised that arming customer-facing employees with wearables is the first step enterprises should be taking.

Virgin Atlantic's pilot saw business club lounge staff in Heathrow wearing devices to assist members with flight connection information, destination weather forecasts and restaurant suggestions.

Gownder said: "They have reported that it is been very successful and customers felt they were getting better customer service, more info and more attention. I would think they are going to roll this out, slowly, with the employees first."

The Forrester analyst said that wearables are fast becoming a reality in the workplace, especially with the arrival of Salesforce Wear on 10 June - a bundle of free tools and reference applications. The devices will come with open-source reference application to help developers design and build applications that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.

But with many enterprises concerned about warding off consumers with privacy fears, employee pilots will help to learn more about where concerns are, and how they can be alleviated, in a controlled way. Employee feedback will help develop customer-facing applications, Gownder said.

"A lot of B2B2C scenarios have thorny privacy issues. If you give it [wearable device] to your employees you have some privacy risks - but you have capability to calibrate, educate and learn before taking it to consumer market," he added.

For customer-facing businesses like banks, retailers, hospitals and insurance providers, Gownder warned that extra care must be taken when employees are wearing devices that are collecting personal information.

Related: How wearable computing could change the face of marketing

"With the example of Virgin Atlantic, in that sense customers have already opted in to the experience of the first class lounge and have already authenticated. But someone who walks into your shop has not authenticated you to know their personal details. The target market of wealthy, frequent travellers who tend toward the tech savvy are different from the general Virgin Atlantic kiosk in Heathrow," he said.

Wearables after mobility

Replicating successful customer engagement through mobility case studies will also help increase trust in wearables that collect data, Gownder said.

He gave the example of international convenience shop 7-Eleven, which enjoyed over one million mobile application downloads in the past nine months. By offering location enabled discounts when a customer was in close proximity, without the user having to enter personal details, 7-Eleven built up trust, Gownder said. When users saw that they could get even better discounts by handing over information, they were happy to sign up.

"They [7-Eleven] built a bridge that did not make people feel like they had to necessarily give away their personal information too much. Plenty of people started opting in after using it for a short time," he said.

Unlocking the potential to gain consumer insight from wearables is in enterprises' hands, Gownder insisted, but companies need to take a big bang approach, with low expectations but an assumption that "the consumer market is roaring forward, it [wearable devices] is going to disrupt our customers and we are going to go all in".

"By doing this transparently and treating people well you can help transform the landscape. There will be fewer privacy issues and better cultural acceptance."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

5 cornerstones of a strong digital culture

Creating a strong company culture may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. In fact, company culture is created in exactly the same fashion as a religion or democracy. Behaviours created from the organisation’s inception are reinforced over time by leadership, attracting like-minded people and eventually reaching critical mass to become an accepted ‘truth’.

Anthony Stevens

Founder and CEO, Digital Asset Ventures

Should you rebuild your company’s tech stack in blockchain?

The question I get asked most regularly these days is: ‘Do I need to rebuild my company’s systems on Blockchain?’ And the answer, every time, is ‘No, you’re asking the wrong question’.

Michelle O'Keeffe

CEO, Engaging.io

Customer value proposition: Getting the brand promise to your customers right

Throughout my career, I have witnessed a litany of brand names that profess to have a unique customer value proposition (CVP). In reality, however, they’ve had little more than a ‘value proposition’: A simple list of benefits applied to a general audience.

Ric Navarro

Global director of marketing and communications, Norman, Disney & Young

Hi there! Thanks for this interesting article! I love to read about new technology and software that makes our lives easier. I'm looking ...

Julia Summer

Wartsila overhauls Web platforms to create ‘seamless’ brand experience across all devices

Read more

RE: Sales and marketing SLAs, often the choke point isn't the teams but them getting the data into the tools they want to use with the da...

Ed Fry

Why sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever

Read more

Thank you for the good and very helpful information. It is very interesting. I love all the things you share and see your beautiful creat...

รัตนาวดี ภูมิวรรณ

Former eHarmony marketing chief joins telco startup

Read more

Colin Kaepernick, not Mike Kapernick.

thisisw

Zenith's innovation leader: Mid-digital age not benefitting media, brands or consumers

Read more

AGA KHAN HOSPITAL is in need of kidney donors for the sum of 2 crore, Contact us today if you want to sell your kidney for money, and thi...

Sebastian Friedrich

Mindshare gets behind blockchain advertising alliance

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in