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Virtual Reality, Wearables, and The Future of ERP

future of ERP

It’s just a matter of time before virtual reality (VR) goes mainstream. With Facebook having acquired Oculus VR, the company that makes the VR gaming headset Oculus Rift, there is a lot of excitement about the future of VR. According to Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s move to buy Oculus VR is driven by VR's potential, not just in gaming, but also in connecting people in the future.

Future of ERP, Virtual Reality

Facebook’s move comes as wearable devices are just gaining clout in both consumer and enterprise markets. In the coming few years, wearable technology is bound to be adopted by the masses just as smartphones were.

While fitness enthusiasts are the biggest consumers of wearable technology today, the interest in the devices is likely to lead to much wider adoption. In the enterprise market, wearable devices will be critical in redefining the traditional workplace setting, as well as defining the future of ERP.

Enterprise Wearable Computing

To appeal to the general public and the enterprise market, VR companies and wearable device manufacturers will have to combine technology with everyday operational assets, such as smartphones, laptops, ERP systems, and others.

The information collected from these wearable devices can be translated into vast amounts of data that can be used by organizations in application areas such as process manufacturing, supply chain, and inventory management. Organizations – including pharmaceuticals, parcel handling corporations, grocery distributors, and global retailers have realized that hands-free computing can enable workers to achieve higher levels of accuracy, productivity, and efficiency in the workplace.

Examples and Benefits of Wearable Computing

In the consumer market, wearables can carry a social stigma that can stifle their adoption. However, the situation is different in the enterprise market where wearables are seen as professional tools, just as pertinent as computing devices and ERP systems are.

Wearable devices made for a particular industry do not need to be everything to the mass consumer market. Specialized wearable devices can empower diverse professionals, including product engineers, warehouse workers, surgeons, police officers, and technical field workers. Below are two benefits and examples of enterprise-focused wearables already in the market.

i) Easier and Stronger Authentication

Most of the time, vendors will be targeting enterprises to distribute wearables to their workers. A good example of this is in authentication processes at the organization. For example, in a manufacturing plant, employees may have to respond to many authentication requests during the day, such that their productivity is affected. Most of the requests often need simply to be fulfilled by providing a password.

However, passwords can be compromised, and there is no way of preventing an unauthorized user with the right password from accessing secure information or processes. This problem can be solved with wearable technology.

Bionym, an enterprise-focused vendor, adds two other factors in the authentication process. These two factors are something that you are and something that you are ingenious at. When the two identifying characteristics are combined with the password, uniqueness is enhanced. As a result, companies can enjoy increased authentication security on processes, functions, or at data centers.

ii) Enhanced Collaboration between Workers

Enterprise wearables will enable new usage scenarios, resulting in interesting collaboration among workers. This is already happening, thanks to companies like Sociometric Solutions .

Sociometric Solutions offers smart IDs that track an employee’s location in the operating plant, and then correlates this data to track collaboration with peers. The smart ID also captures social signals, e.g. when the employee is listening to peers, interrupting them, etc. This data is then analyzed and sent to the manager. From the data, the manager can compare the working trends of different employees to find the winning combination that results in better output or productivity.

Looking at another example, Vidcie by Looxcie provides head-mounted cameras that enable real-time video collaboration. These wearables can help a company be more efficient and lower costs.  For example, workers in technically complex fields like telecommunications and manufacturing can stream videos of the project that they are currently working on and get real-time feedback from peers. By using the video streaming solution, repeat visits to project sites can be minimized, hence lowering operational costs.

Both top management and IT professionals should embrace enterprise wearables to create better customer relations, increase employee productivity, and drive their organization’s business processes.

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