Start planning for wearables - here's how

Profile picture for user cebess By Charlie Bess May 27, 2015
Organizations need to be planning for wearable integration and adoption into their business processes. Don’t wait to be overcome by events, look at them for advantage now.

A few years back there was a great deal of commotion about BYOD, asking questions like:
  • Is it good or bad?
  • How can it be controlled?
  • Who should pay for what??

There seems to be less of this today – maybe the whole topic is moot now as smartphones are the majority of new phones in many markets.

With the arrival of the Apple Watch among many similar devices, attention has shifted to the adoption of wearables in business and how their adoption will increase until wearables becomes the norm by 2020 or so.

The wearables category includes smart watches as well as connected eye wear, gesture-controlled devices… essentially the personal edge of the Internet of Things. Wearables will become 17% of the devices sold in 2020 according to Tractica and Juniper Research believes that the wearable market will grow to $80 billion by 2020, so this is a significant wave headed into nearly every business.

It makes me wonder if IT organizations are going to gnash their teeth again like we’ve seen for previous consumerization efforts or are they planning now for what this can mean for their business? I’d lean toward planning now so that they have half a chance to steer this juggernaut of adoption.

One of the first questions IT organizations need to ask themselves is how do ‘I’ view the problem: Is it an opportunity to meet the needs of users or just another opportunity for some nefarious individual to access enterprise data? Admitting your perspective provide you a better understanding of what needs to be done to fully take advantage of the opportunities available.

Denial is not an option.

For those that view making business life easier and efficient is one of the most important roles of IT – there is much more to wearables than just having them walk in the door. Focus on the various roles in the business and how these technologies can be used to advantage. It is not shadow IT if you understand, embrace and address it.

Similar to the BYOD discussion, wearable devices may impact HR (codes of conduct), purchasing and licensing policies to protect everyone involved. When you recognize these issues, bring it to the attention of the organizations responsible and help them to see the possibilities. Don’t wait for them to come to their own conclusions. Personnel need to know what the policies are too, so they need to be communicated.

These devices will have a direct effect on support and practices like ITIL need to be strengthened by other standards and frameworks. Wearables are personal devices -- focus on the person, role, process… not just the device, and then you can help shape the business outcomes.

The protection of corporate information is critical and there are numerous approaches available today with more on the horizon that may be applicable. Can the wearable devices be used in the enterprise to provide even more information to enhance security? They understand the person and their behavior in a more personal way, so there are interesting possibilities to improve security, not weaken it.

For those who view data protection as paramount, you need to admit that the data that no one can access has the least value. The reason to collect all this information for the business is to consume it for something. Wearable devices may provide whole new ways to use it but will require a fresh approach to governance.

Fortunately, there are many organizations addressing all these situation, so you don’t need to start with a blank sheet of paper. Like any 12 step program, the first step is to admit that we’ll be addicted to wearables and some aspects of it are outside our control.  Only then can you define an approach with a reasonable likelihood of success.

Whatever you do though - don't be a Glasshole!!

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