The enterprise market is one of the largest areas for wearables growth, as TechRepublic senior writer Teena Maddox reported. Corporate wellness programs and healthcare accounts are increasingly providing employees with these devices as a way to improve health and decrease insurance costs. Fitbit partnered with more than 1,000 companies in 2015 alone, Maddox reported.

Wearables such as smartwatches include features like calendars and message notifications that can aid workplace productivity. Augmented reality smart glasses can help engineers and architects work with 3D/computer-aided design (CAD) models, while certain watches and bands could be used as authentication devices instead of security cards, according to research firm Tractica.

When asked, “Does your company allow wearable technology at work?” 10 IT leaders said yes, while two said no.

Tractica predicts that the total market for enterprise and industrial wearable shipments will grow from 166,000 units in 2013 to 27.5 million by 2020. Gartner estimates that by 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment–primarily those in jobs that can be dangerous or physically demanding, such as emergency responders.

SEE: BYOD, IoT and wearables thriving in the enterprise (Tech Pro Research)

The smartwatch market alone grew 60% in the third quarter of 2016, according to a recent report from Canalys.

“We definitely allow them,” said Cory Wilburn, CIO of the Texas General Land Office. “Our wellness program included some steps walked competitions. The programs seemed to be very popular at first, but then people seem to lose interest.”

Wellness programs tend to get more participants when the company varies the types of activities offered, Wilburn added.

Paul Furtado, vice president of IT Operations at Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies, said that his company does allow wearables at work. “In terms of results, I can’t say we’ve seen anything definitive but the term ‘I’ve reached my steps’ is becoming more prevalent,” Furtado said.

Federal contractor VectorCSP has no formal wearables wellness program, but is still seeing benefits from allowing them in the workplace, according to director of IT services David Wilson. “We have been encouraging the wearing of step trackers and fitness monitors,” Wilson said. “It is something that seems to give employees a kind of bond that was not there.”

Workplace wearables aren’t always fitness-related: At Sheppard Robson Architects, employees use wearables such as the HoloLens as part of the design process, according to IT director Simon Johns.

For Muhammad Azfar Latif, head of IT, product management division at financial services firm United Bank Limited, wearable technology is not in the company’s roadmap in an official capacity. “But as a concept, yes it is very good concept to monitor employee daily activity and devise their medical plan accordingly,” Latif said.

John Rogers, IT director at Nor-Cal Products, Inc., agreed. “It isn’t that we don’t allow wearables, we just don’t have a compelling use for them as of yet,” he said.

This month’s CIO Jury was:

  • Paul Furtado, vice president of IT operations, Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies
  • David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
  • Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
  • Florentin Albu, CIO, Ofgem E-Serve
  • Shane Milam, executive director of technology infrastructure services, Mercer University
  • Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
  • Dale Huhtala, executive director of infrastructure operations, Service Alberta
  • Jeff Kopp, technology coordinator, Christ the King Catholic School
  • Michael R. Belote, CTO, Mercer University
  • Muhammad Azfar Latif, head of IT, product management division, United Bank Limited
  • John Rogers, IT director, Nor-Cal Products, Inc.
  • Mike S. Ferris, global IT director of infrastructure, Lincoln Electric

Want to be part of TechRepublic’s CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic’s CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot denisco at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.