Could 2013 Tech Trends Impact Workforce Management?

First blog of the New Year… as I’m trolling through the resolution and prediction opinions hitting this week, it’s been a struggle finding anything that really inspired me, until this Forbes article yesterday. Cloud, Big Data, and Mobile are still at the top of everyone’s list of IT trends, which will no doubt impact how organizations track and manage their labor. But “wearable” is coming up on everyone’s list – with Google Glass and Apple’s iWatch leading the charge!

The idea that employees will not only bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, they will actually “wear” devices got me thinking… Could employers benefit from technology worn by employees?

Your first response may be, that is “Big Brother” going too far! But think about it – most companies track their mobile employees this way already. They use GPS and in-vehicle devices to track activity. And things like task management and work-order assignments are used to monitor labor activity. So while today MANY employees can leverage their personal mobile devices – both tablets and smart phones – for some of these items, the concept of wearable technology makes them even more attainable.

So here are my top 5 workforce management applications of wearable technology.

  1. Badge replacement – This one is obvious and in some places already available. Think of a smart card with Bluetooth, RFID or other wireless broadcasting technology that could be paired with a clock or other data collection device.
  2. Employee notifications – Yes this could be done with a mobile app or text message today, but a watch, glasses or other type of technology may be more visible by the employee. Think about task assignments in retail, job or work orders in manufacturing, location assignment in healthcare, or a warehouse and even real time schedule changes.
  3. Compliance enforcement – think about employees receiving automated (or manager generated) meal and break reminders to an electronic device that requires acknowledgement, which could help to avoid labor law disputes.
  4. Staffing – do you know which employees are in which locations at all times? Think about transportation companies and how they track vehicles with GPS. Suppose you had a map of a facility with visibility into where your staff was at all times. Or, suppose you could leverage analytics with a heat map of where you may be understaffed and overstaffed to make adjustments as needed. A wearable app could provide visibility into where your staff is and what they are doing at any time.
  5. Training, Support, Communication – Employees could leverage real time, on the job training or support with via apps, video or chat.
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