Is Your Organization Ready for BYOW?

By Mike Elgan Print this article Print
wearable technology

The bring-your-own-wearable (BYOW) movement won’t be like the smartphone revolution. It will be much faster and much less gradual—and it will start this year.

The industry has been talking about wearable computing for years, but, after all this time, it’s still mostly a nonfactor for IT managers. While many organizations are coping with BYOD (bring your own device) and some are dealing with BYOS (bring your own service), the looming BYOW (bring your own wearable) movement is barely registering.

That won’t last. In fact, wearable devices are about to come flooding into your company.

One challenge is that wearable computing isn’t a cohesive category. The term encompasses an incredibly wide range of device types, from smart glasses to smart watches to RFID-enabled clothing. Yet they’re all coming.

Wearable devices will become widespread in enterprises within 10 years. Some types of wearables, including smart glasses, will be piloted and tested by IT departments very soon, while having only limited acceptance in the consumer market. Other categories, such as smartwatches, will have rapid acceptance by consumers (i.e., your employees) and very slow acceptance for enterprise applications.

Wearable devices have been slowly trickling out over the past few years. Sony is on its second-generation smartwatch. Samsung, currently the leading maker of wearables, barely registers with its four smartwatch products.

However, over the next six months, the dam will burst and the trickle will become a flood.

Google’s annual developer’s conference, Google I/O, held June 25 and 26 in San Francisco, will usher in a new platform called Android Wear, along with a host of supporting devices. Motorola, LG, Samsung and other major vendors will ship Android Wear devices over the next couple of months—this time with Google’s full backing and a rapidly growing app store.

Although Android Wear appears to be a smartwatch platform, it is, in fact, designed to support all wearables. Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai specifically mentioned “smart jackets” in some early comments about the platform.

Google also recently unveiled a new initiative called Glass at Work, along with five partners. Everybody expects Glass to ship to the public this year.

Credible reports from The Wall Street Journal and other sources say Apple’s iWatch will ship by October, with mass production beginning next month.

How to Think About BYOW

A future column will cover the incredible wearables opportunities for businesses of all sizes. In this piece, I focus on the gulf between the opportunity phase (which is some time in the future) and the threat phase (which begins this week).

There are three relevant facts about the coming BYOW phenomenon for businesses and IT managers:

·  First, the phenomenon is big and it starts this year.

·  Second, the nature of wearables is highly unpredictable.

·  Third, back-end systems for supporting wearables won’t be ready for prime time for several years.

As you can see, this combination of factors is, to put it mildly, not good for the enterprise—at least, not in the short term.

This article was originally published on 2014-06-24

Mike Elgan, a Baseline contributing writer, is a Silicon Valley-based columnist, writer, speaker and blogger. Go here for more: http://elgan.com/.

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