Many of us have been around long enough to witness the rise of some impressive technologies. We saw the beginnings and now extensive reach of the internet. We saw phones transform and fit into our pockets. And we've seen computers shrink to almost as thin as paper. Mobile computing has made a massive impact on technology, inciting a number of changes and taking things in a new direction. On its coattails comes the supposed next step within the mobile sphere - wearable technology.
Many claimed 2014 would be the year for wearables. It wasn't a bad guess, seeing as smartwatches were hitting the market and fitness trackers were becoming increasingly more popular. So far, the predictions have come up flat. However, there is a strong case that 2015 could be the year for wearable technology. There are a number of new devices expected to hit the market next year, the most talked-about being the Apple Watch. However, while we can't pick a definitive date to usher in the era of wearables, we know for certain it's coming down the pipeline.
For the average consumer, this simply means doing a little research and finding a product that'll fit best with their needs. Businesses however, have a much greater challenge ahead of them. Just like smartphones and tablets sparked an era of BYOD (what is BYOD?), we can expect that wearable users will be looking to wear their new devices at work. As a result, companies will need to expand their BYOD policies to deal with these new devices.
Many organisations in the UK are already actively involved in incorporating wearables into the workplace. As of now, these devices are mainly smartwatches and activity trackers. Most organisations see them as a way to improve staff productivity, or as part of a business insurance or benefits programme, where meeting daily activity goals can translate into lower monthly premiums.
While those are great starts to wearable inclusion, we just don't know what else to expect, and what new possibilities could accompany new devices. For example, no one could have really anticipated how smartphones and mobile applications would impact business. Given technologies like Google Glass, we could expect people to share what they're seeing in real-time, which would be incredibly useful for improvements in troubleshooting and customer service. We could also expect great leaps in information management, like the ability to call up information effortlessly on our wrists, or read information projected right onto our eyes.
While it's exciting to think where wearable technology could take us, it's important we also take a moment to stop and consider the concerns and risks associated with these new gadgets. The vast majority of IT professionals agree that wearable technology presents new IT security risks, such as data theft and auto-syncing of corporate data. Wearable technology is meant to simplify our lives, and so it's very simple to use. Unfortunately, ease of use also means these devices are much more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Given that wearable technology is new, many organisations don't have the proper security protocols or guidelines in place to keep up with the adoption of these new devices. Many companies are just starting to create BYOD policies, focusing on smartphones and tablets. They're trying to play catch up, but many organisations have waited so long, they're only just now beginning to accept devices that are already well on their way to obsolescence.
The key to building a successful BYOD strategy is to be preemptive, not reactive. Technology will always improve, and so guidelines need to be flexible and account for these changes. IT departments need to be on top of the latest devices, and aware of which devices are coming through the doors at work. Also, companies should start incorporating wearable computing devices into their data protection and device management policies. This will allow them to mitigate data security challenges that accompany the rapid growth and individual adoption of these devices. If you aren't aware of what devices employees are using, then there is no way to build the right policies around them, leaving your business wide-open to unprotected risks.