PARIS, France – While much of the wearable hype tends to focus on consumers, a new report from Forrester Research argues that businesses may be far more critical in driving adoption.

In the report, “Five Urgent Truths About Wearables,” Forrester analysts found that 68 percent of global companies surveyed said wearables are a “priority” for their companies. The report was commissioned and presented at Le Web 2014 conference earlier this month in Paris.

That level of interest compares to 45 percent of adults who expressed interest in wearables, according to the report. Forrester said the business interest in wearables is similar the business interest in mobile that it tracked in 2010 just before adoption of smartphones and then tablets began to explode in the workplace.

“Why have wearables become such a big priority for 2015?” the report says. “Businesses see a clear return on investment for wearables, which can both increase operational efficiency and reshape customer experiences.”

Among those employees ripe for wearables are field workers, technical inspectors, customer service agents. Examples cited by Forrester include:

  • A company called Thiess in Australia is using a bracelet made by Amiigo that measures blood oxygenation, body temperature, and movement to make sure field workers in extreme conditions are safe and healthy.
  • has created a cloud-based service that places its workforce scheduling system on smartwatches. If an employee has to stay home sick, they tap an app on their smartphone and their manager gets a smartwatch notification that includes a recommended substitute for filling that employee’s shift.
  • Japan Airlines’ cargo and maintenance personnel are using Google Glass to record video and photos that are reviewed in a central office.
  • Virgin Atlantic gave customer service agents Google Glass or smartwatches so they could roam lounges offering assistance.

It should be noted that Google itself has been making more noise about the enterprise opportunity for Google Glass. Earlier this year, the company launched the Glass at Work program with a handful of partners who were developing applications for wearables in the enterprise.

As more employees and consumers adopt wearables, said J.P. Gownder, a Forrester analyst who spoke on stage at LeWeb, businesses will dramatically increase the amount of real-time data they can gather, which in turn will create new opportunities for marketing and sales.

“Businesses don’t want to just give workers wearables,” Gownder said. “They want to use wearables to reshape their business models.”

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