Several years ago during the holiday time, my digital experience consultancy AnswerLab decided to invest in a Fitbit for every employee. This decision was part of our ongoing effort to make AnswerLab a great work environment, and a way to get our team thinking about the future of how humans interact with technology. Becoming a Fitbit office upped everyone's general awareness about health and fitness and broadened our awareness of technology design. It reminded us of how far society has come: from using a computer mouse to swiping screens of diminishing sizes to using devices that connect the organic with technology as part of an entire interconnected ecosystem.
Fitbit is now a leading example of the rapidly-growing wearable computing category. In fact, wearables and user experience were huge topics at SXSW in Austin, Texas, this month. To get a pulse on how companies are thinking about wearables and their businesses, AnswerLab asked some of our peers in the digital product and marketing arenas to weigh in. An overwhelming majority (89 percent) of digital executives questioned believe that wearables will gain mass-market adoption in the next three years. However, only 27 percent are currently working on integrating wearables in their development plans. (You can read more about AnswerLab's wearables survey here.)
What's Your Wearables Strategy?
With broader market penetration right around the corner, it's time for businesses to develop strategies that anticipate and support the wearables market. An entire ecosystem of apps will grow around Google Glass and smartwatches following in the footsteps of smart phones and tablets. Any business that depends on the digital world to interact with customers should start thinking beyond desktop, mobile, and tablet.
Haven't done much thinking about wearables yet? Here are three key questions to get you started:
1. The timing: Wearables present the opportunity to deliver information, alerts, nudges, and snippets of data directly to customers at the most relevant moment possible, rather than when they check their computers, phones, or tablets. What information do customers need from your business that could be delivered just-in-time, in the right context, exactly at the moment customers need it?
2. The promise: Most wearable companies see the device's promise lying with the ability to change consumer behavior for the better. Can your business offer customers insights that would help them achieve more, live healthier lives, or change habits for better outcomes?
3. The design: Trends are indicating that most smartphone apps will evolve to interaction designs that fit the form and function of smartwatches. What content and tasks will your mobile app customers most want to access from a smartwatch? How will your designs need to change to fit this new form factor?
Of course, any digital strategy that targets wearables will need to be informed by foundational research. Start by getting into the minds of customers--watch how they naturally engage with your business's digital channel through ethnographic research. Then, get their reactions to concepts for how you might enter the market.