The market for consumer medical wearable technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in the technology industry. Recent data showed that the global wearable healthcare market is projected to reach US$30.1 billion by 2026, up from US$16.2 billion in 2021. Driven by a range of factors – including the response to Covid-19, the rollout of 5G connectivity and improvements in the range and functionality of devices – our appetite for wearable technology has soared over the last two years.

A recent study explored consumer attitudes and behaviours in relation to wearable technology. The results illustrated the scale of consumer demand and expectation in this area. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians say they are already using at least one wearable technology device, and as many as 61 per cent of Canadians plan to increase their use of wearable technologies and associated applications over the next 12 months.

The level of excitement and anticipation around what wearable technology can deliver is interesting. Eighty-two per cent of Canadians agree that wearable technology has the potential to positively transform both their own personal health and public health services as a whole.

Indeed, wearable technology is no longer perceived as just a way to monitor physical activity, general fitness or sleep patterns. The health benefits consumers are most looking forward to from medical technology devices (when they become available) include: the ability to manage chronic or ongoing health conditions, identify and reduce the spread of infectious diseases, manage sexual health and fertility, and identify early warning signs of life-threatening illnesses or diseases (such as cancer).

Digital experience must be flawless in the race for innovation and growth

While there is currently an overwhelming sense of opportunity within the wearable technology sector, research revealed a pressing need for technology providers and digital health application owners to prioritize user experience. It may seem that consumers simply can’t get enough of wearable technology, but attitudes and behaviours can quickly change, particularly when it comes to applications and digital services.

After two years where people have become totally reliant on applications in so many areas of their lives during the pandemic, expectations for digital experiences have skyrocketed and consumers simply won’t put up with poorly performing technology.

The risks of poor digital experience are even higher when it comes to wearable technology and digital health applications, where data can be highly sensitive and consumer reactions can be stronger and more emotional. People expect companies offering wearable technology and applications to demonstrate a higher standard of protection for their personal data than any other technology they use.

Alarmingly for wearable technology providers and digital health application owners, 73 per cent of Canadians claim they would stop using a specific wearable device or application if they had a single bad digital experience, and as many as 51 per cent of Canadians claim a bad digital experience with one wearable device or application would put them off trying other health or wellbeing wearable technology.

This is the high stakes environment in which vendors are operating, with massive opportunities for customer and revenue growth balanced by the very real risk that one slip-up in user experience could result in customers walking away.

What makes for a bad digital experience with wearable technology?

When it comes to what constitutes digital experience with wearable technology, consumers are clear on what they simply won’t accept. Top of the list is wearable devices and health applications crashing, followed closely by slow run times and unresponsive pages or functionality.

There are also concerns around data privacy and security, which you would expect when the personal information being captured, analyzed, and shared can be sensitive. People want real-time access to accurate health data, and they want to be able to share their data with friends and family. This is seen as pivotal to having a good user experience.

But at the same time, consumers have zero tolerance for brands that fail to protect the privacy and security of their data. Indeed, 88 per cent of Canadians claim that trust is a critical factor when choosing a wearable medical device or application brand. Other pain points when it comes to digital experience include battery drainage, poor connectivity, problems with downloading or installing applications, difficulties with the sign in process, and problems with payment processing.

Unified visibility of IT performance is critical to avoid digital experience pain points

Brands in this space need to do everything they can to deliver the brilliant, seamless experiences that customers now demand. And in order to do this, they need to ensure that their technologists have access to the tools and data they need to manage and optimize IT performance and availability at all times.

This means having real-time and unified visibility up and down the IT stack, for compute, storage, network and public internet, from the customer-facing application to deep down in the back-end. Full stack observability enables technologists to identify and resolve issues before they impact end users and, when this technology performance data is connected to business outcomes, it allows them to prioritize issues that could damage the customer experience.

Over the next 12 months we should see phenomenal growth within the wearable technology market, with huge surges in adoption of new devices which help people to manage and improve almost every aspect of their health and wellbeing. While the opportunity for brands is almost unlimited, we need to remember this exciting future ultimately hinges on application providers ensuring they are delivering exceptional digital experiences at all times.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
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Joe Byrne
Joe Byrne is Vice President of Technology Strategy and Executive CTO, AppDynamics, a part of Cisco. His primary focus is on working with customers and prospects on APM strategy and helping with digital transformations. He also works closely with Sales, Marketing, Product and Engineering on product strategy. Prior to AppDynamics, Joe held technology leadership roles at Albertsons, EllieMae and Johnson and Johnson.