Global wearable device shipments will increase from nearly 202 million in 2016 to more than 501 million by 2021, according to ABI Research.

While about 17% of these will be attributed to enterprise end users in 2016, a 35% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in enterprise wearables will put the segment on track to more than double its shipments by the end of the forecast period.

“Wearables in the workforce are becoming more prominent, as they give workers immediate, direct access to important information, such as profiling health care records on a smart glass display,” said Stephanie Lawrence, research analyst at ABI. “This hands-free approach saves time, allowing staff to become more efficient and, ultimately, saving companies money.”

Organizations in education, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, transportation and warehousing are incorporating wearable devices into the workforce, the study said. ABI predicts that warehouse, manufacturing and field services areas will represent the most tangible near-term opportunity for enterprise wearable shipments.

Wearables can help minimize unplanned downtime in the workforce, but the type of wearable to be most readily adopted into the enterprise is dependent on the specific industry or use case to which it caters. Smart glasses and head-mounted displays, for example, will drive enterprise wearable technology as the convergence of IT and operational technology becomes more pervasive.

ABI said warehouse and manufacturing verticals, among the more attractive first forays for wearables, will receive 34% of smart glass and wearable scanner shipments.

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