A smartphone is a collection of many virtual devices that are expressed as applications: GPS, camera, pager, phone, compass, watch, calculator, scanner, music player, wireless router, etc. The devices that comprise a smartphone measure, collect, record, analyze, secure, publish, and subscribe to data.
Wearables are a new class of device being brought into the enterprise by employees. While their form factor is different than the smartphone, wearables bear more similarities than differences to their more full-featured cousin. Like smartphones they contain a set of devices powered by apps. Wearables are comprised of fewer devices and fewer apps (at least for now). Like smartphone apps, wearables can measure, collect, record, analyze, secure, publish, and subscribe to data. Unproven, and still to be realized is the assumption that wearables can also help boost employee productivity and provide employees increased flexibility—the same characteristics that have made smartphones increasingly central to business operations. However, what is already evident is the fact that an increasing number of employees are bringing wearables to work, and informally using these devices for work. Last June IDC predicted 43% compound annual growth in wearables through 2019. It appears inevitable that Wearables will consumerize IT, much as mobile devices and applications have already done so.
Given the similarities between BYOD and wearables, it’s not too early to get ahead of the wearable curve. Businesses should anticipate some of the policies, privacy, and security challenges of wearables by simply looking through the lens that’s been developed for employee smartphones.