Most CIOs See Value in Wearables in the Workplace

Eighty-one percent of 2,400 CIOs say they see potential value in wearables for their employees at some point in the future, according to a new study by Robert Half Technology.

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Whether it is through smartwatches, eyewear-mounted computers such as Google Glass (pictured) or other coming innovations, a new study reveals that 81 percent of 2,400 CIOs say they expect wearable devices to be used by employees in their jobs in the future.

The study, which recently surveyed CIOs within 24 U.S. metropolitan areas, found that 37 percent of the IT leaders expect to see wearables being used in workplaces within the next three to five years, while another 24 percent said they don't expect such a trend to occur for at least five years. Compiled by an independent research firm on behalf of the consulting company Robert Half Technology, the report also found that 15 percent of the CIOs surveyed are more optimistic, expecting wearables to be in use within the next one to two years in workplaces. Only 5 percent said they expect the trend to begin within one year.

In the study CIOs were asked: "When, if at all, do you think wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch or Google Glass, will be a commonly used workplace tool?"

Sixteen percent of the CIOs surveyed said they don't believe that wearables will be commonly used in workplaces, while another 4 percent said they had no opinions about wearables.

The study asked about wearables in the workplace because as the use of such devices becomes more widespread among consumers, it will also naturally begin spreading to workplaces, John Reed, a senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, told eWEEK.

"We survey CIOs on a frequent basis about technology trends and how they impact the workplace," said Reed. "So we thought about asking about next-generation wearables, to find out if this was a top of mind issue for CIOs and whether they are thinking about it and if they see them as productivity tools in the workplace."

The group wanted to first determine if this was just a hot trend or the latest technology frenzy that will soon fizzle out, or if it has the potential for assisting business employees long into the future, said Reed.

"It's certainly eye-opening," he said of the 81 percent of CIOs who said they expect that wearables will one day impact workplaces.

So far, it is still too early to determine just how wearables will be used, though such possibilities as recording meetings, scanning documents, providing navigation and taking photographs for business have been mentioned.

"I don't think that people have figured out exactly what the business benefits will be from the technology," said Reed. "Once those are identified, I think it will take place faster."

One issue that the survey does not dive into is security concerns involving business use of wearables, and that will have to be something that's also considered by CIOs, said Reed. "Companies are going to have to be sure that there is a tangible benefit in the workplace before they allow employees to use these devices," he said. "They will also have to look at what are security risks and then balance that with the benefits."

Reed said the biggest surprise he saw in the survey results was "how bullish the CIOs were that this is technology that we are going to see in the workplace. When 4 out of 5 said that this is going to be a reality, it was a pretty surprising finding."

Much of the market will be driven by business apps that are still to be developed for wearables, he said. "It's not a big stretch to think about applications for these technologies. We just have to see how they manifest themselves."