Wearable tech and the future of cloud ERP

A recent study conducted by the University of London looked into the positive aspects of introducing wearable technology at the workplace.

One of the key takeaways from the study is that wearable technology can improve employee productivity by as much as 8.5% while enhancing job satisfaction by 3.5%. Writing for CNN, Dr. Chris Brauer, the person who spearheaded the study tells us that such wearables could help in building a symbiotic growth relationship between the employer and the employee – while the employer could use behavioural data from such technology to pick the best resource for a task, the employee could use this very data to build a “biometric CV” that would help them personalize their work space.

While the use of such technology at the workplace still seems like a distant dream, at least one industry has taken the first stride towards using wearable technology to enhance their efficiency.

Plex, one of the leading providers of cloud-based ERP solutions recently unveiled their Plex Labs project – a role-based user experience that makes use of Google Glass to connect people from “the shop floor to the top floor”. Using this technology, clients could seamlessly integrate the information workflow between the equipment operators and the managers.

One of the key benefits of integrating wearable tech with ERP is that it helps in real-time flow of information from workplaces that require employees to stay hands-free for safety reasons. In the case of a manufacturing, this technology will help professionals view live data and transactions from the shop floor and enable actionable information to flow to the managers.

Plex is not the only cloud ERP business to be working on integrating wearable tech to their system. SAP, the ERP juggernaut too is working on a similar project. The company has teamed up with the connected eyewear manufacturer, Vuzix to build a system that will enable a forklift driver to view real-time ERP information over the cloud on their eyewear to help them prioritize tasks.

For instance, such glasses can guide the workers to the products on their pick lists, scan the barcodes on the products at the warehouse and confirm to the servers that the item has been picked. This way, you will no longer need human intervention to update the stock levels; rather, the very act of a forklift driver loading and unloading products could update information instantly.

These technologies are aimed at disrupting the ERP system as we know it. At a time when enterprises are still on the fence about migrating from their traditional on-premise ERP to cloud ERP solutions, the benefits accrued from the introduction of these new wearable technologies will definitely incentivize these customers to migrate to the cloud at the earliest.

However not all cloud ERP providers are calling this a disruption. According to Mark Troselj, the managing director of Asia Pacific at NetSuite, this technology is not exactly new for NetSuite's consulting partners.

Speaking on the sidelines of the eCommerce Conference & Exhibition at Melbourne, Mark said, “From NetSuite’s point of view, it’s really all much of a muchness. Wearables are ultimately just another device with niche applications of their own. We look at the example of a toothbrush that knows when it needs replacing, or a car that knows when certain parts need replacing.

“We have customers that offer medical devices that are able to perform similar operations. They’re all machines that send information back to NetSuite to tell the supplier something – for the most part that means replacing a part, but the opportunities are many and varied.”

From one perspective, Mark's points are understandable in that wearable technology is the prerogative of the manufacturers and as a cloud ERP service provider, the onus on NetSuite and its ilk is to provide seamless systems that will facilitate the use of such revolutionary technologies. However, it is also true that wearable technology may not necessarily be an area of focus for a lot of non-tech manufacturing companies.

As a technology partner, it is the responsibility of the cloud ERP providers to offer solutions that can help these companies drastically enhance the productivity and efficiency of their systems.

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