As a management consultant who helps companies incorporate analytics into their corporate strategy, I'm constantly on the lookout for big trends, and there's no doubt that wearable computing is scorching hot.
I recommend that you at least consider doubling down on your big data play with wearables. When you do, remember the basics of building a strategy: it's not all about the product — it's about the product/marketing mix. Wearable technology is an exciting direction to take with your big data analytics, though you must be clear about the market you're targeting.
A match made in the cloud
Big data and wearables are a really good fit (pun intended). The combination of Moore's Law dramatically reducing the physical footprint of tech and cloud-based technologies increasing our ability to support a razor-thin-client model makes big data wearables a serious consideration for strategists who are looking for the next big thing.
There are several ways to incorporate big data analytics into wearables, but the most feasible seems to be storing and crunching data in the cloud, and then beaming relevant and timely information down to the wearer. The collection of data can also be facilitated by sensors, which are worn and then beamed to the cloud for analysis.
For example, consider a triathlete who has a wearable wristband. Training data and analysis could be customized in the cloud based on others who have accomplished similar goals. During training, the wristband could collect important information such as heart rate and location and send this data to the cloud for analysis. The cloud could send relevant information back to the wristband on where to go next and what exactly to do.
In this case, it's important to remember that your target market is triathletes not techies; the two aren't mutually exclusive (there are a number of techie triathletes), but triathletes are the primary target here. So, although this seems like a pretty cool product idea, don't get too wrapped up in the technology — design it for the athlete, not the techies that want to show off their new gadget. For instance, your new device doesn't need to receive phone calls, tell the time in Hong Kong, or stream media. It should, however, be resistant to water, shock, and low temperature.
Pair the product with the market
It doesn't matter which market you decide to target, as long as you're very clear on who they are before you start designing your wearable. When it comes to technology, some markets will appreciate the inherent technology and some will be indifferent. Some markets don't want the product's technology to overpower the design — executives fall into this category. Even in the heart of Silicon Valley, you won't find many executives showing up for a business meeting wearing a Samsung Gear Fit. If you're going to design a big data watch for an executive, make sure it looks more like a Rolex than a Casio. The Netatmo JUNE is a good example; the device that suggests SPF protection based on real-time ultraviolet information collected in your current surroundings, and it looks like a nice piece of jewelry.
When you target techies, keep in mind they're a loyal group who wear their technology proudly. Even in the early days when techies were heavily criticized for being nerds, they wore their pocket protectors with pride and took every opportunity to show off their HP RPN calculators. So, if you're designing a big data wearable for techies, make sure it screams of technology.
Anyone who would spend $1,500 on Google Glass is rich, a nerd, or both. I'm not wild about the fact that Google is trying to tone the technology down to make it more appealing to athletes, business people, and fashionistas. It doesn't matter how you package it, it's obvious when somebody's wearing Google Glass. I think Google should keep the design nerdy until it can come up with a way to make the technology less conspicuous.
Big data wearables are an innovative way to capitalize on at least two huge trends: big data and wearable technology. With double the opportunity comes double the risk, which is why it's extremely important to consider your market as much as you consider your fancy technology.
If you're targeting techies, don't be shy about the high-tech bells and whistles — that's what they want. If you're not targeting techies, keep it simple and focused on what your market needs, and do whatever you can to hide the technology.
Take some time today to brainstorm with your product development team about the prospects of big data wearables.
- Wearables: Fit for business? (ZDNet and TechRepublic Special Feature)
- Wearable computing: 10 things you should know
- Wearables have a dirty little secret: 50% of users lose interest
- First look: Pebble Steel smartwatch has professional cred
- Android smartwatches: Google Now for your wrist, with style
- Photos: Creative uses of wearable tech
- When trends collide: 10 of the hottest crowd funded wearables
- Wearables for business: 'A tool, not a nice to have' (ZDNet)
- Best wearable tech (CNET)
- Wearable Device Policy download (Tech Pro Research)
- Google Glass Policy download (Tech Pro Research)
Disclaimer: ZDNet, CNET, Tech Pro Research, and TechRepublic are CBS Interactive properties.
John Weathington is President and CEO of Excellent Management Systems, Inc., a management consultancy that helps executives turn chaotic information into profitable wisdom.