[LONG-FORM BLOG] “Google Glass: 10 Great Uses for Businesses”

Google Glass is now starting to target businesses rather than consumers, offering several different applications to streamline business operations, along with an option for developers to create custom apps through a new “Glass for Work” program. In this article, we outline how businesses are currently using the product and list 10 great ways that businesses can take advantage of Google Glass.

Many consumers and early adopters have said Google Glass is too pretentious, unfashionable, and expensive (55% of consumers think that wearable technology is too expensive, while 24% of consumers believe they already have too many devices)—and that it is a violation of privacy. But what happens when businesses, not consumers, become Google’s target audience?

Even though Google Glass gained harsh reviews from consumer critics, many predict that the new product will gain steam with businesses. On the heels of an announcement that Google Glass would be available for sale to the general public, Google recently launched a Glass at Work program to promote the technology to business users and allow developers to create custom business apps.

Adding to these announcements was our own release of Salesforce Wear, an open source software development platform that helps businesses build applications for wearables like Google Glass. Salesforce Wear allows businesses to tailor the use of Google Glass and other wearable technology devices to fit their specific requirements.

The logical question, then, is this: Will businesses opt in? Many of consumers’ complaints about Glass become inconsequential when the device is used for work purposes. Google, in collaboration with other businesses, has now made customized technology available—and the devices will be at a lower cost than previously expected. Fashion isn’t as important when it comes to carrying out a career (hi, Bluetooth), and businesses avoid some of the privacy concerns by specializing their apps.

On top of that, according to a new research report, employees who use wearable devices show an 8.5 increase in productivity, as well as a 3.5 increase in job satisfaction. To many operations executives, the recent advancements are a natural progression to using wearables in the workplace.

How Businesses Currently Use Google Glass

Some businesses have already successfully incorporated Google Glass into their daily operations. As part of the company’s larger initiative of attracting new users, Google recruited current users to share how they use Google Glass for business. The users spotlighted included a construction project manager who used Google Glass to improve safety and efficiency, an art teacher who uses Google Glass to help teach her online class, a firefighter who is building an app to help firefighters navigate dangerous situations and an oilfield services company that partnered with Wearable Intelligence to create checklists for technicians in the U.S. and overseas.

Several other businesses from multiple industries are testing Google Glass, from home services to health care. Virgin Atlantic tested Google Glass over a six-week period with customer service agents, resulting in several positive reviews from passengers. Political campaign managers are looking at Google Glass to help organize rallies and campaign communication. Medical practices and hospitals are considering Google Glass for implementation of virtual doctor appointments, using remote viewing to provide a virtual diagnosis and prescription via telemedicine. In an April 2014 Google+ post, Google Glass said, “A number of companies have already teamed up with enterprise software developers to create new ways to serve their customers and reach their business goals.”

The Future of Google Glass and Businesses

“Ok Glass, improve my bottom line.”

Google Glass is just one example of the Internet of Things (IoT)—network-enabled, physical devices that can connect to the cloud. Futurists predict that these fashion electronics, once they become more mainstream, will revolutionize workplaces andusher in a new era of industry. The greatest buzz centers on using wearables such as Google Glass and other IoT devices for jobs that are more mobile and don’t necessarily require a display, such as those in manufacturing, energy, logistics, transportation and health care.

It can be overwhelming when you stop to consider the many potential uses of Google Glass and other IoT devices for small and large businesses. Building on the apps currently available, here are 10 potential ways businesses can use Google Glass to streamline their business operations:

1. Business Travel

Imagine this for your next business trip: Your Google Glass screen flashes a reminder with your flight information and directions to the nearest taxi. You’re able to check into your flight verbally during the taxi ride and upgrade your seat. You purchase a magazine to read on the flight, and once you land, you get step-by-step instructions for traveling to your hotel. Meanwhile, Google Glass is tallying all of your business expenses for accounting once you return.

Google Glass offers apps that aid in navigation, trip information, emergency notifications, currency conversion and more. These handy services (and many others yet to be developed) could save you precious time and energy when traveling for business purposes.

2. Presentations

There’s no need to fumble through your next presentation. For those in corporate who dread public speaking—or who just want some help—Google Glass offers speech solutions. Google Glass apps like YourShow, Glassentation and Speech Helper allow speakers to display and control slides for presentations and view notes while speaking. In the future, apps may help with speech writing and with accuracy as you practice your speech. Translation and other speech aid apps are already available for use during your presentation. With the help of these apps, you can be sure to deliver excellent information at upcoming conferences, conventions, and other presentations.

3. Efficiency

The sky’s the limit when it comes to Google Glass apps that help manage, control, and optimize operations. Some companies have used Google Glass for customer service training (i.e., training videos and tutorials in real time), to help control the customer experience. Current apps range from those that help locate forgotten items to those that check to make sure workers have categorized items correctly.

Mashable recently featured Active Ants, an e-fulfillment company in the Netherlands that gave Google Glass to two stock pickers and measured the results over a period of a week. They found that through a custom-built stock app, the workers’ error rate was reduced by 12%. The app also increased their stock picking speed by 15%. J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, touts the benefits of incorporating wearables in the workplace with the example of healthcare apps likeEpson’s Moverio smart glasses, which allows a phlebotomist to use sensor technology to see the veins in a patient’s arm and thereby reduce misses. Similarly, businesses can build custom apps that will help improve both efficiency and accuracy, resulting in a better customer and client experience.

4. Security

Among other security functions, Google Glass includes a cloud video recording feature. Like the video cameras already installed in police vehicles, these videos could capture interactions in real time, providing backup for emergencies or claims from disgruntled criminals who want to shift blame back to the police force. That makes Google Glass a great option for police departments, security management, bouncers and many others. The NYPD, LAPD and other police departments are already experimenting with using Google Glass for police work.

Other industries can get help from Google Glass with safety and liability cases as well. Imagine being able to monitor the sales process and record and recall in-person sales calls to verify what clients agreed to, for example. By using video, you have some additional insurance in case disputes arise.

5. Remote Viewing

The Google Glass video function can also help businesses explore surfaces remotely, saving costly time and resources. So far, this function has been successfully used for oil exploration, and doctors have taken advantage of it for distance learning with surgical techniques. Remote viewing also allows customers to view service calls remotely to check in, and allows technicians to conference in other experts when encountering a service snag. The healthcare industry in particular is interested in ways it can leverage Google Glass and other IoT devices to increase efficiency with patient treatment. Remote viewing could also reduce some risk for field employees requiring backup or assistance.

6. Communication

This might be one of the most obvious uses for Google Glass with businesses and also the most important. How many times have you heard requests for better office communication? Apps already developed help communication by bundling updates and sending them to designated RSS feeds. Real-time updates from co-workers could help workers execute their jobs more quickly and more accurately. Employees would have little excuse for not sharing information cross-departmentally, even without being physically present. Also, Google Glass offers sign language and translation services, which could improve communication for companies with hearing-impaired employees or those with offices across the globe.

7. Collaboration

Imagine conference calls on a whole new level. No longer will remote employees remain remote—they will have the ability to see everything that everyone else can. Google Glass apps allow workers to collaborate in ways they never have before and to feel more present than they do through a typical Skype or conference call. Different department heads could move across different meetings virtually to gather applicable information to share with their teams. Co-workers could meet, shake hands and share screens all at the same time. All of these possibilities would contribute to organization-wide collaboration. Current apps also offer access to meet-up events, where people can gather to learn more about topics relevant to their jobs.

8. Time Management

Like having meeting reminders on your phone or computer, Google Glass apps offer help with meetings and appointments, which you can have while also accomplishing another task (or even while having lunch with a friend). Apps also implement the use of popular time management techniques to help you complete tasks more efficiently. Businesses can use these apps and others to help employees work smarter in a shorter amount of time. Picture being able to automatically check off items from your to-do list as you do them and having additional help with prioritizing items based on their urgency.

9. Information Management

Google Glass offers endless options for curating and sharing information. Employees could access daily data updates, including Google Analytics, stock market changes and industry-relevant news. Doctors could use software like Philips IntelliVue Solutions to access and manage patient files during a patient visit without even touching a computer. Customer service representatives could use Google Glass to quickly access client information via the cloud even when they’re away from their computers. Google glass can become an easy solution for businesses looking to automate their knowledge management.

10. Direct Sales

A wearable device would have several positive internal and external benefits for a sales team. Internally, sales teams could use Google Glass for accessing client information more efficiently and streamlining efforts between marketing and sales. Externally, Google Glass applications could help improve the customer experience. Applications such as Crystal Shopper and GlassPay allow users to scan barcodes automatically to compare prices, make purchases with bitcoins and compile purchases to a centralized location.

Businesses are also using Google Glass applications to directly market to potential customers. For example, Sherwin Williams debuted an app that analyzes a picture a user takes and shows the color match with their products. Trulia is developing an app that allows you to virtually explore real estate. Companies could use Google Glass applications to customize their customers’ experience in a multitude of ways as IoT devices gain popularity.

These are just some of the ways that businesses can use Google Glass and other IoT devices to improve the workplace. How could Google Glass revolutionize your business?

Originally published at salesforce.com.

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