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Wearable technology and the fight for talent

07/01/2015

To some people, wearable technology is just a fancy way of describing something a bit more advanced than the digital watches that were all the rage in the 1980s. To others, however, it is the next stage in the consumer electronics revolution.

In one sense, wearable technology has indeed been with us a long time and the wristwatch is an obvious example of it, digital or not. Wearable technology can also include non-consumer uses, such as electronic tagging for criminals.

However, just as the modern smartphone contains so many applications and functions that the mobile phones of just a few years ago were missing, so the tally of wearable technology devices is soaring, even in what is already a saturated electronics market.

If there was any doubt before, it is clear enough from the actions of the biggest electronics companies where the market is going; with Samsung and Microsoft making a number of acquisitions of smaller firms in the wearables market, the direction of travel is clear.

Further evidence can be seen from the arrival of some high-profile devices, like the Apple Watch, Fitbit and a range of new innovations from Microsoft.

As the market heats up and consumers are attracted to the latest devices, it seems very likely that wearable technology will soon reach the tipping point and become a very disruptive force. Indeed, 2015 may be the year the technology truly comes into its own.

How can digital businesses prepare for this? Undoubtedly the need for talent will be considerable, for a number of reasons. Firstly, in quality terms companies will need people with excellent skills of innovation and the capacity to take ideas from the drawing board and turn them into reality. Secondly, as the market grows, the sheer number of people with the right skills will increase.

Some recruiters may regard the best way of proceeding to be to seek talent from within the sector itself, especially product and digital experts. If such candidates can be found, they will of course be invaluable; their direct experience and pioneering approach will be priceless assets.

The flip side of that is that such candidates will by nature be hard to find and much sought after, with the competition for them being very stern. Suffice to say, businesses cannot realistically rely on meeting their needs for more staff based solely on bringing in specialist talent with direct wearables industry experience.

As a result, the companies who succeed in the sector are likely to be the ones that have the best recruitment strategies. By definition any new and expanding industry will grow in part by bringing in talented people from other sectors with transferrable skills and this will be a key part of the battle for talent moving forward.

Even this realisation will not be enough on its own, as many companies in the sector will recognise the need to find many or even most of the skilled staff they need from elsewhere. Thus competition for talent from across the digital industry will be substantial. Indeed, smart recruiters will cast the net as far as is necessary; bringing in talent from overseas may prove a great way of finding the right people.

So, while the wearables talent war will be fierce, well-prepared businesses can gain a vital advantage over the competition.

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