We’ve been hearing a lot about wearables lately. Smartwatches in particular received a lot of notoriety in 2014 with major players like Google, LG, and Samsung introducing devices. Then, of course, the Apple Watch announcement in September has now caused a lot of stir. And we can’t forget the commoditization of the health fitness tracker with a large number of offerings in this market, some of the most popular ones being Fitbit and Nike’s FuelBand.
All signs show that the wearables market is going to experience robust growth over the next several years. But at the same time, new research also shows that IT professionals believe BYOW, or Bring Your Own Wearables, is risker than BYOD and that most companies are ill-equipped to deal with wearables in the workplace. So what is a small business to do about this latest trend? How can you prepare for the inevitable of supporting wearables safely and securely, while keeping everyone happy? Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as the BYOW market gear ups in the months and years ahead.
1. Don’t Hide from BYOW
Realizing that many organizations are still getting over the shock of BYOD, you might as well get used to wearables in the workplace. Instead of shying away, smart and innovative organizations need to step things up and see here an opportunity to urgently move ahead on their broader digitization strategy. When BYOW hits the workplace it’s going to move fast. Enterprises will likely leverage their experiences with BYOD smartphones and tablets to spin up Internet of Things and wearable devices into their IT structure more quickly and efficiently. Smaller organizations are far more agile in this regard, so can use this to their advantage to get ahead of the market.
2. Be Proactive & Innovative!
Map and plan out your BYOW strategy by incentivizing the value proposition; make it easy for those who want to tie their wearables into the company cloud. Give prizes for the best innovative ideas by offering winners a new Apple Watch. Or perhaps while you’re waiting for Apple Watch to enter the market, kickoff a New Year’s 2015 health incentives program by giving out Fitbits to help your employees monitor their health.
3. Tie Wearables into Your IoT Strategy
The Internet of Things is another huge market that’s expected to have epic transformations throughout all industries in the years ahead. The implications of IoT on business will be profound in terms of data storage and management, new customer services and business models, security and privacy of information, and more. For now, the best approach is to be familiar with the BYOW reality and start making provisions for integrating wearables into your broader mobile and Internet of Things strategies (more below).
4. Keep an Eye on Apple Watch
The release of Apple Watch is still up in the air but it will likely happen sometime this spring, and is expected to be a huge conduit for the Internet of Things market. In November Apple released WatchKit, which is the development toolkit for the Apple Watch. With this developers are able to start writing apps for the Watch, such as alerts and notifications for their favorite services and brands. AppleWatch will dramatically change the landscape of BYOW, so now is the time to start facing this new reality.
5. Get Used to UEM (Unified Endpoint Management)
If you think about the “consumerization of IT” trends over the past 5 years and the impact of BYOD on the enterprise and scale that up ten-fold, then you get BYOW! The experience of moving to support for iOS, Windows, and Android devices gives organizations a boost. But be mindful that mobile management will become more agile with the shift to supporting the new range of wearable and IoT connected devices. The new keyword in this arena is ‘endpoint’. The paradigm, in fact, is shifting away from mobile device management (MDM) to one called Unified Endpoint Management (UEM). Start to recognize the integration of wearables, IoT, smartphones & tablets into one holistic management framework involving data, cloud, and mobile interactivity.
2015 is going to be a pivotal year in terms of BYOW management. Wearables have already grown immensely in the last 18 months and Apple Watch is going to make the market even bigger. Everything we can see at this point suggests that wearables and Internet of Things is going to have profound impacts on businesses and how data, services, and platforms are managed. Now would be a critical time to start evaluating your IT infrastructure and mobile management approach to ensure support for the integration of wearables, devices, and “things” into a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) framework.