By Ennio Carboni, Executive Vice President, Customer Solutions, Ipswitch

We’ve become so attached to our technology, demanding connection 24/7, it is no surprise that wearable technology is the next big trend. Exciting? Yes. But wearable technology will undoubtedly change the way your company uses technology and you need to be ready.

The big question is: are IT departments ready for Wear Your Own Devices (WYOD)? And how will it affect a company’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and the IT infrastructure? Many it seems, are burying their heads in the sand. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requested by Ipswitch found that although 93% of public sector departments have implemented network management tools, only 23% actually check to see how the network is performing. A more serious concern we uncovered is that 79% of government organisations don’t actually know the difference between wireless and wired devices attached to their networks!

Wearable technology has arrived, from smart watches to smart glasses, and the market is only just opening up. Market research company On World Inc, forecasts that the wearables market will be worth around $50 billion in the next five years. Little wonder it is also one of the hottest trends for investors this year.

IT departments are already struggling with the onslaught of tablets, smartphones and cloud document management systems such as Dropbox and Box. Many are still looking at procedures and policies for employees bringing in their own devices. Locking down company data is becoming increasingly complex.
Wearable technology provides many business opportunities, such as hands-free video conferencing and voice operated Internet browsing. Wearable technology could replace the ID badges staff wear around their necks and turn them into connected devices. However, with the productivity benefits come some real challenges.

There are security issues that companies need to get their heads around in terms of governance, risk and compliance. Wearables provide a major risk for data leakage as employees can easily upload company documents to the cloud or use cameras on devices. Transferring a company’s sensitive data can be done in the blink of an eye.

If you don’t have a WYOD strategy in place, you should start thinking about one right away or suffer the consequences.

Setting an agenda for WYOD

1. Security - Decide who can use wearable technology in the company. Limit access where required. Disable certain features if necessary. Decide where employees can and cannot use wearable devices in the company. Enforce the same log on procedures as for company owned devices.

2. Big data - Make sure that your network and your wireless network bandwidth can cope with the huge amount of additional data.

3. Company policy - Make the policy on wearables in the workplace clear to employees from the onset.

4. Legal implications and best practice – Make sure you understand the legal implications and that your company is covered.

Wearables will play a major part in the way we collaborate and share data in the workplace. A proactive, rather than a draconian, approach is necessary and your company can benefit from the huge potential that this new technology can bring in improving workflow, increasing your competitive edge and driving down costs.