The industry is spotlighting wearables as the next big thing and analysts are predicting the market is about to take off in a huge way over the coming year. Business needs to prepare to embrace Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) as it will undoubtedly change the way we work forever.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend took many businesses by surprise and highlighted the fact that employees are happy and confident enough to take technology into their own hands to get the job done, if their employer can’t or won’t provide what they want.
Wearable technology has arrived, from smart watches and jewellery to smart glasses. Wearables are being rapidly adopted by consumers and are inevitably appearing in the workplace. Market research company On World Inc forecasts that the wearables market will be worth around $50 billion in the next five years. IT departments need to be ready to face the challenges that WYOD brings by developing a WYOD policy that protects both the company’s IT infrastructure and its assets.
But many businesses don’t want to take the concept of wearables on board, relegating them to futuristic gadgets. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ipswitch submitted uncovered the fact that 93% of public sector departments have deployed network management tools, but only 23% actually check to see how the network is performing. Unbelievably we also found that 79% of government departments don’t actually know the difference between wired and wireless devices that are logging on to their networks!
Locking down data and monitoring company networks, whilst ensuring the required bandwidth has become a major headache for IT departments. Wearables adds more complexity to the mix. Wearable technology opens up a host of opportunities for business to cut costs and boost productivity, in the field, on the factory floor and in the office environment. But there are major governance, security risks and compliance issues that need to be addressed.
Banning wearables isn’t an option. Businesses will lose their competitive edge by losing out on meaningful contributions to productivity and the company’s bottom line. If employees want to take in wearables they will, under the radar of the IT department, which will create network chaos.
Businesses need to update their BYOD policies to cover wearables. The policy should look at how much personal data devices collect, how it is used, stored and disclosed. At the same time, the IT department and employees must be educated in wearables and potential liabilities. Wearables can basically be used as surveillance devices to gather sensitive company data and shift it into the public domain or even the competition.
From a security issue it is advisable to limit access of wearables, decide where employees can and can’t log on. It may be necessary for some IT departments to create a second network specifically for employee-owned devices, where large amounts of sensitive data is being dealt with.
IT departments should also make it a priority to track all devices on its network and what they are being used for. Continual monitoring will enable the IT team to assess any potential new risks entering the workplace. Wearables are set to reinvent the workplace and create some golden opportunities for businesses. Ensure your employees are happy and educated from the onset and your business can safely grab the wearable revolution with both hands.