'Bring Your Own Smartwatch' Won't Cause an IT Management Crisis

By Mike Elgan  |  Posted 2015-03-23 Print this article Print
BYO Smartwatches

The other part of the problem is that the smartphone is a personal device and not a corporate one. In that case, how does IT manage its connection to the network, security policies and app compatibility and currency for these personal mobile devices?

It's an especially important issue for IT in part because these devices—PCs/laptops and smartphones—are universal. Every white collar employee has them.

That's what BYOD is all about: Are these fundamental and universal devices part of the employee or part of the company?

Why Wearables Are Different

None of these issues exist within the wearables category. There will never be a controversy or disagreement over the fact that wearables are personal, like eyeglasses or shoes, at least in the white-collar corporate world. The employees will choose, buy and maintain them.

This won't be true for blue collar workers, who will increasingly be issued company-sanctioned vertically integrated smart glasses, smartwatches and other wearables when they are needed for specific work applications.

Wearable devices used by office employees of all kinds will and should be seen as personal enhancement—enhancement of the person or the mind—not "tools" or "equipment" that are "used."

Furthermore, many employees won't have them because they won't feel they need or want them. They will not (in the foreseeable future, anyway) achieve the ubiquity of PCs or smartphones.

But wait, you may say: What about the central issue of connecting these devices to the company network?

And here again, for the most part, wearables are a non-issue. The Apple Watch along with Android Wear watches and, in fact, most wearables either cannot or do not need to connect to the company network. Smartwatches normally connect to the phone and the phone connects to the network. So any policies and safeguards that enable smartphones to connect to corporate networks cover wearables, too.

This brings us to the sole remaining objection or fear around wearables—sensors. And by sensors, I mean mainly cameras and microphones. Some will fear that smartwatches and smart glasses and smart whatever will be able to record sensitive information, either during meetings or in restricted areas.

But again, this is a non-issue, for the most part. Wearable devices won't have any special capabilities that the smartphones everyone already carries don't already have. And using those capabilities aren't any stealthier than smartphones are.

So yes, of course, people will wear their wearable computing devices to work. But they will change nothing about policy or procedure because they are personal devices that connect through phones and don't do anything different from phones.

So relax. There is no "bring your own wearables" issue.



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