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Smartwatches and the enterprise: Issues and challenges

Posted: 12 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple? smartwatch? enterprise? Apple Watch? BYOD?

Smartwatches have arrived, and it is only logical to assume that they will overstay that welcome. And depending on your perspective, the innovative device brings with it a number of quandaries that many in the industry are already focused on making sense to, at the very least.

Unless you have been living under a rock these past few months, you're probably aware that Apple recently released its long awaited smartwatch. Even then, actually, you probably would have spotted one of Apple's trademark mono-colour product ads in a discarded magazine or newspaper.

It really is that hard to avoid, and one would be forgiven for thinking that we have truly entered the age of the connected device.

From a business perspective, it's all too easy to dismiss the watch as a luxury plaything, as many have already. However, there were naysayers for the smartphone too and even IBM didn't believe there was a market for the PC, standing by to let Microsoft dominate the market for years to come.

Needless to say, people can be wrong, and it would be hard to argue that these two devices haven't had a profound impact on the way in which virtually every modern business operates today.

Apple Watch

While the Apple Watch is already proving to be immensely popular with consumers, smartwatches are also beginning to gain early traction in businesses. Much of this early traction might largely be limited to basic mobile scenarios such as arranging meeting points, alerts, quick canned/tap email responses, as well as aspects of project tasks and conflict notifications. At the same time the race to extend and build enterprise apps for Apple Watch will soon enable more complex solutions. I for one wouldn't bet against the smartwatch for business any time soon and can easily see it changing business and IT operations alike, enabling entirely new processes and revolutionising or improving old ones.

While perhaps not on the immediate radar as a concern for most IT teams, organisations will begin to recognise smartwatches as essentially an extension of BYOD. As such, they'll be subject to the same management, update and security concerns and solutions. This will be especially important once these devices begin enabling more complex tasks and when the volume and type of data stored on smartwatches becomes increasingly valuable.

Managing and securing these devices is no mean feat, however and there is evidence that IT leaders are already turning their attention to the even broader challenge that IoT devices represent. A recent Vanson Bourne survey suggests that, in regards to the rise of IoT devices, 90 per cent of senior IT leaders at organisations with over 1000 employees were either somewhat concerned, very concerned, or extremely concerned about their organisations' identity relationship and access management capabilities.

The awareness is high and concern is likely to only increase further as IoT devices play an even bigger part in our day-to-day lives. It's clear that the lines between physical and digital are blurring an interesting trend probably best typified by Amazon's 'Dash' buttons, another form of connected device, which enables users to purchase a variety of Amazon products at a push of a button.

The Apple watch has further accelerated the connected device countdown for the enterprise. For IT teams today, the main priority will be assessing their readiness for the infusion of Internet connected devices joining their respective networks.

- Eric Aarrestad
??HEAT Software

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