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Wearable tech offers promise (and potential peril) for the enterprise

Al Sacco | Jan. 23, 2014
Wearable technology is not just for consumers. CIOs who want to stay ahead of the curve need to start preparing for this new wave of gadgets today. Here's a look at the current state of wearables in the enterprise, along with some examples of how your company can begin to realize the technology's potential for business.

Gartner Research Director Angela McIntyre suggests it may not be that simple. "A challenge CIOs face with wearables is that the MDM device software is often not yet available from the solution providers. Many of these devices don't even have SDKs to enable security software."

McIntyre suggests that companies concerned about wearables and security should first and foremost update their security and usage policies to address wearables and communicate the consequences of violating policies to their employees.

CA's Michelson acknowledges the challenges wearables represent, but he predicts the security market will mature along with wearable tech.

"Eventually, you'll start to think of wearables just like you think about every other secure enterprise device," Michelson says. "Wearables will mature, companies like CA will provide technology that allows you to manage the devices just like any other app or services now, and you'll hold vendors accountable, just like you do today."

As a CIO, Snodgrass says, "your job is to make the machine work and function better. There is an element of security there, but if you're not equipping your workers to go and be successful, move quickly, move fast, you're actually hurting the company and not helping. A data or security breach might get you fired, but not being able to implement the next generation of technology to enhance overall ROI and output of your worker base is, in my mind, a significantly more grievous error."

Preparing for Wearables in the Enterprise
With all the hype around wearables, it's important to remember that this is really just the infancy of the technology. Though it may be time to start thinking about how it will fit into your organization's strategy, it's not time to panic or to rush to implement new technology.

"Everyone feels like they missed mobile," Snodgrass says. "I don't think there's a large corporation or a corporate CIOs who says, 'Oh man, this mobile thing, we really nailed it!'"

When it comes to wearables, then, the first thing CIOs should do is give themselves a break. "Where they need to be pushing a lot on mobile, on the wearables side, we're still in the early days of form functionality and actual product," Snodgrass says. "Also, a lot of IT strategy with mobile will cross over pretty well with wearables. I see wearables as kind of a natural evolution for mobile."

That said, Snodgrass also suggests it's time to start investigating the potential of wearables for your organization and, possibly, reaching out to some wearables makers for proof of concepts. He says Wearable World is a good place for companies to start their research, by reaching out for assistance, attending one of the organization's various events or just monitoring its news feed.


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