I just read an interesting post over at Silicon Angle that describes how wearable tech will take the enterprise by storm. The article outlines a future driven by employee’s who bring their own gadgets to work, not just smart phones but everything from smart glasses (like Google GOOG -0.32%’s Glass) as well as other a multitude of smart and ever connected wearable objects.
As these wearable objects proliferate so will the opportunities and challenges. Interestingly, these seem to line up with the current trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which is a policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their workplace.
A recent research white paper published by Ovum and commissioned by Logicalis, reveals some startling statistics around the BYOD trend. The report gathered responses from 3,796 consumers who work full-time in organizations with more than 50 employees across 17 different countries. Respondents were questioned about their attitudes towards and usage of personally owned devices at work. The report’s findings indicate that about 75% of employees in high growth markets such as Brazil and Russia and 44% in developed markets are already using their own technology at work.
The stakes are high, a report published by MarketsandMarkets estimates the total BYOD and Enterprise Mobility will grow from $67.21 billion in 2011 to $181.39 billion by 2017. The report’s author notes; “BYOD and Enterprise Mobility concept is getting huge traction in the technology market nowadays. This is one of the hot topic in the market after cloud computing. The reason behind the market growth is that, enterprises are going mobile and they need to be in touch with their mobile workforce anytime anywhere. Companies are getting instant return in terms of visibility, time management, cost saving, and positive work environment.”
The blog Business Insider believes that the “wearable technology” market will be a $12 billion sector by 2018. ABI Research estimates the global market for wearables in health and fitness alone could reach 170 million devices by 2017 with most of the major technology players indicating that they will be offering gadgets various types in the near future.
A GigaOm report points out opportunities for enterprises noting that “the enterprise environment will play an important role in the growth of wearable computing because of the hands-free nature of the work. In contexts such as hardware repair, maintenance of heavy infrastructure (e.g., nuclear reactors and sophisticated hardware) or outdoor construction, where real-time geographical information is required, wearables can be ideal.”
GigaOm’s Jody Ranck also describes some potential pitfalls, “The challenge here will be to find the right technology to fit with the overall enterprise architecture of the firm and interoperate with existing devices in a world where the range of devices and data systems is proliferating.”
“Most big technology players are looking at major new platforms, and this could have an impact on areas such as the mobile phone. We shouldn’t be surprised if in ten to fifteen years the form factor of the phone is quite different and has been driven by the widespread adoption of wearables. Smartphones increasingly include sensors and a range of technologies that make them more than just a phone.” says Ranck.
Ultimately the biggest issue with wearable technology may not be found in its management or even its security; it may ultimate come down to our ability as humans to multi task. Don Norman a cognitive science professor (UC San Diego, Northwestern) turned executive (Apple AAPL +0.89% vice president) turned designer (IDEO Fellow) explains, “Without the right approach, the continual distraction of multiple tasks exerts a toll that disrupts performance. It takes time to switch tasks, to get back what attention theorists call situation awareness. Interruptions disrupt performance, and even a voluntary switching of attention from one task to another is an interruption of the task being left behind.”
“Can wearable devices be helpful? Absolutely. But they can also be horrid. It all depends upon whether we use them to focus and augment our activities or to distract. It is up to us, and up to those who create these new wearable wonders to decide which it is to be.” Says Norman.