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Five things CIOs need to think about as wearables enter the workplace

Authors: Anil Damodaran, Navin Nayanar, Girish Raichur

The launch of the Apple Watch signaled the beginning of a mainstream post-mobile world. The market is now ready for the next big thing – wearables. The aim of technology has always been to extend our capabilities in the simplest possible ways. While smartphones have done a great job, wearables advance us to a new level. Devices like Google Glass, fitness and health trackers represent our desire for technology that is more intimate, personal and intuitive to use.


With the lines between personal and professional life blurring, wearables will likely bridge both lifestyles. Specialized and customized wearables have already made their way in a number of work places. A great example of this is the medical industry. The Stanford University Medical Center uses Eyes-On glasses from Evena Medical that show an outline of a patients veins to help guide a needle, ensuring medical practitioners get it right the first time. Another example would be of Capriotti’s, a Las Vegas based sandwich shop, which has counter employees that wear Google Glasses so that management can get a first-hand look at how their employees handle the lunch rush, so they can review and improve their processes and thus their service. Source: PwC, 2014

Even though businesses will likely drive the adoption of wearables, it is safe to assume that a significant portion of consumers will bring them into the workplace on their own, regardless of whether or not their employers’ bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies support them. Some employees may not even think of their smart watch, t-shirt, or ingested smart pill as a “device,” leading them to inadvertently violate anti-BYOD policies. Consequently, IT organizations will need to broaden their BYOD policies to explicitly cover wearables and smart objects. Striving for simple rules that can govern over more complex behaviors should allow IT organizations to stay ahead of this new class of smart devices, and prevent them from having to revise their policies to manage them individually.

Five suggestions for organizations interested in wearable technology:

  1. Assess the impact of wearable tech on productivity and health against your bottom line
  2. Envision how wearables can create new business opportunities
  3. Build and reshape enterprise capabilities around the user and his/her experience
  4. Instill trust and be consistently transparent with what you do with employee data
  5. Recognize that the wearable category will continue to evolve

While enthusiasm for wearable devices seems to be growing we expect CIOs and IT departments to find ways to integrate wearable technology in their overall ecosystem. We anticipate that earlier hesitation will be replaced by a determination to leverage wearable capabilities in their day to day business.

References: ZDNet, Deloitte-WSJ,  Kronos-Harris Poll

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Anil Damodaran

Anil is an accomplished business leader and marketer with over 15 years of experience in the marketing analytics space. He currently manages Go-To-Market & Product...
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