CIOs saw it coming: 68% of global technology and business decision-makers already see wearables as a priority, “comparable with the mobile landscape in 2010, when 43 percent of enterprises identified employees using mobile devices as a critical or high priority,” Forrester Research analyst JP Gownder observes.
Salesforce’s decision to offer Apple Watch apps suggests growing interest in wearables. They offer opportunity for new innovation in communication-enabled business processes, personal productivity and even for maintaining a healthy workforce in an always-on environment in which work and personal lives merge.
Jamie Hul, vice president of mobile products at Evernote, notes: “There's a big change in how people work today -- work is happening in smaller chunks, more frequently, and across multiple devices. We've seen people shift from working entirely on their laptops to swapping back and forth between their laptops and phones/tablets frequently, depending on what they're trying to do. It's just easier, for instance, to capture a photo of a whiteboard using your phone.”
Gil Bouhnick, vice president of mobility of ClickSoftware, has ideas how this may impact work: “Mobile employees, in particular, need to react quickly, get driving directions or traffic intelligence, notify customers about their ETA, respond to emergencies and report back to the back-office,” he said.
“With predictive features, instant access to maps, turn-by-turn directions, Apple Watch could just the thing that actually lets workers do most of their work from their wrist.”
“I think we'll see wearable devices continue this trend, with certain use cases moving to the wrist, allowing a more seamless and uninterrupted workflow,” agreed Hull.
"The Apple Watch can be useful in industries that power employees with iPads as laptop replacements…. If you have your iPad close by, the Apple Watch can serve as the easily accessible screen you work on. Jobs that require employees to have two-hand access, such as mechanics or technicians, can find smartwatches to be great assets. For instance, a mechanic fixing a malfunctioning train on a railway track can use the Apple Watch to quickly send updates to train conductors on the estimated fix time," MuleSoft’s founder, Ross Mason told me.
Forrester’s Gownder sees future potential, “cognitive computers (like IBM’s Watson) and voice-controlled intelligent agents (like Siri, Cortana, or Google Now) used with wearable devices will augment the skills of humans on the ground, helping them identify and act on specific problems."
"We’ll see the Apple Watch create much richer data sets, as the smartwatch can transmit anything from GPS location to skin temperature that will power newer applications,” said Mason. “Context will become even more important in order to not bother people with updates or notifications that are currently not relevant.”
As Apple Watch apps improve, the data flowing through them will become more valuable. Good Technology CTO Nicko van Someren warns: "The Apple Watch likely marks a significant step toward making wearables in the workplace a reality. However, many users will be blindly adding their new watches to mobile devices that hold a wealth of corporate information, creating a potential security vulnerability for their employers. “
Enterprise leaders must take immediate steps to prepare for this future, developing appropriate security policy governing data, users, devices and mobile apps.
"One way to ensure enterprise data is secure on smartphones, tables and wearable devices is keeping it in separate, encrypted containers,” says van Someren. “Clear policy controls will mitigate the security risks that come with these new devices."
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