By Jon Wrennall, Fujitsu Fellow and CTO UK & Ireland
Wearable technology is undoubtedly on its way to being as transformative as tablets, phablets and smartphones in the enterprise.
While wearables are still in their relative infancy, the market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 35% over the next five years according to BI Intelligence. It underlines the unstoppable adoption of wearable technology – the next natural extension of the mobile market.
Already we’ve seen devices such as sports bands and fitness trackers becoming increasingly common, with many employees already using wearables as consumer products.
I have one which is linked to two of my mobile devices and connected to my work and home networks. Much like BYOD, you’d be fighting a losing battle to try and stop wearable tech appearing in the workplace. What organisations need to do is reassess their mobile strategy and address the inherent security concerns these devices pose now rather than later.
In the next five years, wearables will be as common as smartphones in the workplace. For this reason, businesses can’t afford to take a ‘wait and see’ approach or they risk missing out on big opportunities to support employees and optimise their work habits.
For instance, the ever-increasing innovation of augmented reality and smart glasses presents a range of opportunities for businesses. Wearables in the enterprise can give the freedom of having information right in front of your eyes without needing to use your computer or traditional mobile device.
Across many industry sectors, wearables could also help improve safety. The alertness of long haul drivers could be measured through a wristband that would instantly relay relevant information that the driver may need to take a break.
As our technology capability increases, so does the potential. Gesture control, gloves or rings that provide haptic feedback, and gaze tracking are exciting developments to bring the real and virtual environments together and offer a much more natural user experience.
However, while the benefits they provide are clear, wearables are generally not on the radar for a majority of organisations beyond the security risks they pose. It is well reported that the connection between untrusted devices with poor security systems and corporate networks pose a significant risk.
According to a mobile threat report by Webroot, 62% of companies with employee owned devices reported significant increases in demand for help desk to support, repair or manage the security of smartphones and tablets in the company.
Because of this, organisations take a ‘lock down’ approach and do not recognise the potential wearable technology can offer them. Instead, they need to reassess their mobile strategy, and address the inherent security concerns these devices pose now rather than later.
Wearable technology has a wealth of potential and it will ultimately be as ubiquitous as the smartphone is today. As technology companies focus on providing human-centric products, the rate of adoption will only accelerate.
With the increased innovation of augmented reality, smart glasses, smart gloves, rings, gaze tracking, gesture control and haptic feedback, there’s an almost endless set of opportunities to transform the way we work and enrich our daily lives.
Jon is CTO for Fujitsu in the UK & Ireland and founding Fujitsu Fellow leading the Fujitsu Distinguished Engineer programme. Find out more about the programme here.
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