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Let’s save wearable tech

B2B marketers can help rescue the wearable tech industry, according to Jon Silk, director of Bite

I’ve stopped wearing my Fitbit activity tracker. For an entire year it’s been in my pocket or clipped to my shorts, dutifully tracking my movements. For a while I also used a couple of iPhone apps that tracked my exercise, location and sleep quality, and briefly flirted with a Nike FuelBand.

I have, in total, two years of data from my ‘quantified self’. I’m a huge hit at parties when I show off my wearable tech, as you can probably imagine.

With Apple poised to launch its smart iWatch (or iBeats activity tracking headphones, depending what rumours you’ve been hearing), the wearable phenomenon is about to go mainstream. There will be queues around the block of people looking to quantify themselves.

Unless those people are athletes or gym goers who need telemetry on the body or exercise regime, will all those people get a year into their life of being tracked and realise – like I just did – that there is no point to tracking their every move unless they get something in return?

Two years ago I wrote a column about wearable tech being the next big thing, just after I bought my Nike FuelBand. This is what I wrote back then: “Social media changed marketing because it let brands know what people were thinking and saying. Wearable technology takes that to the next level as it lets brands know what people are doing.

“Once Nike converts FuelPoints into something you can convert into discounts for Nike clothing, gym membership, or healthcare vouchers, we will all be doing it.”

Wise words, if I do say so myself. So why hasn’t anyone sorted that out yet? Two years down the line I’m still furiously self-quantifying, and all I’ve got to show for it is a Fitbit profile that shows I walk more now I’ve sold my car, but still not as much as my mate Chad in California.

And so, I’ve sacked off the gadget.
After two years it started to feel like an electronic tag. All take, no give.

If this continues without changing, wearable tech will fizzle out. So I need your help, B2B marketers. You need to create the infrastructure to make my prediction come true.

This is how you’re going to do it: approach a wearable tech provider and suggest a deal where points mean prizes.

Do you make software? Then do a deal with Fitbit to provide all your clients’ employees with trackers and knock money off their IT systems the more active they are. You get more sales, they get a discount plus a cool gift to give their employees, and the ability to shout about a really cool health initiative to their prospective customers.

Do you run a call centre? Give all your service professionals Jawbone Ups and encourage them to take active breaks to ensure they aren’t sat down all day. You get a healthier workforce with less sickness, they get a cool gift from their employer, and you get to shout about your really cool health initiative to prospective customers.

Now try to apply that model to your business. Can you see a way to incorporate wearable tech into the lives of your employees, or those of your customers?

If we all give it a go, we’ll have the whole thing nailed in months. And we might just save wearable tech in the process.