Enterprise Wearables: Determining the ROI

This article is taken from one of our member’s blogs: BrainXChange.  The article sets out key issues and industry comments on how enterprises can determine the success of a wearable pilot.

One of the AREA’s key missions is to fund and conduct research into augmented reality in the enterprise.  Our latest structured research was on this exact topic of ROI, the result being that a ROI calculator was produced that can be used by those in industry to measure and calculate the ROI of an investment into ROI.  In support of this is a best practice case study.  More information can be found HERE on the research that produced the ROI calculator.  http://thearea.org/area-resources/ar-roi-best-practice-report-and-use-case/

From BrainXChange: “Determining ROI a key challenge faced by enterprises today in the still-early days of the technology, for it’s not always a simple matter of numbers and percentages.  At BrainXChange’s EWTS events, real end users shared first-hand experiences of and outside-the-box thinking about gauging the ROI of wearables in your business.

When we talk about ROI, we usually talk in terms of concrete numbers. But what we heard from a number of enterprise users is that it’s often not easy to pin down numbers with wearable technology; sometimes it’s more practical – even necessary – to qualify than to quantify the success of these devices in your organization.

Peter Godino, Hershey Company: “There is always an ROI when you’re improving the way you do something [but] there are some things I don’t like to put KPIs to. I know there’s an enhancement. Sometimes it’s improving the quality of life for your engineering team or the people on the floor. A lot of metrics cannot be expressed as a dollar return, but we’ve seen a lot of benefits from wearable technology. Line uptime will be one of the big outcomes, though we cannot claim to have seen a reduction in downtime at this time; but we’re pretty sure we’ll have that information in the future.”

While you might view that as sort of a gamble – banking on the hope that one day there will be numerical data to support the adoption of wearables in enterprise – improving employees’ quality of life is no minor benefit:

Kristi Montgomery, Kenco Logistics: “Improving the quality of life for those end users (warehouse workers) is hard to quantify from a dollar perspective…Employee satisfaction and engagement–if we can improve that [then] we feel like we’ve accomplished something even if there’s no hard dollar amount we can account for.”

Peter also spoke to the idea that sometimes you just know there’s an enhancement:

Dawn Bridges, Jacobs Engineering: “A wearable that recognizes a barcode is an efficiency.” Replacing hand-held barcode scanners with something wearable that frees up workers’ hands is a clear efficiency, supported by sheer logic if not by a percentage.

George Bowser of DHL gave two sides to the ROI coin: There’s measuring the impact of wearables on productivity and accuracy; and then there are less calculable, even emotional, indicators like ergonomics, impact on workers themselves, and user acceptance. And sometimes it might be necessary to weigh some metrics against others: If it’s not possible to (accurately) calculate an increase in productivity over the short lifespan of a pilot program; talking with users – even handing out questionnaires as DHL does – might reveal other, more immediately observable improvements such as less physical strain or awkwardness for workers using smart glasses to scan items instead of a handheld scanner.”

Other case studies and quotes from the full article can be read here.

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