Will a raft of new gadgets fashion new problems for mobility managers?
The launch of a host of new wrist-borne devices at MWC this year, along with the launch of Apple’s much-anticipated iWatch, means 2015 will be remembered as the year of the wearable. It’s only a matter of time before mobility managers see them enter the workplace, making a dent in corporate data plans and forcing changes to security policies.
From Huawei Watch, LG Watch Urbane and HTC Vive, to bio-monitoring wristbands and even smart athletic clothing, tech wearables looks to be making the leap from early adoption to the mainstream right now. When it makes that next jump into the workplace, expect a whole new category of management challenges.
Businesses in the US have been offering biological monitoring devices as standard kit within corporate health plans since the latter part of 2013. On the consumer front, Samsung and others have been subsidising their smartwatches aggressively as a free or heavily discounted add-on to mobile plans.
As they become both ubiquitous and increasingly powerful, wearables will bring the same security issues and concerns about data usage that tablets and smart phones did before them.
Since most of these devices need to be tethered to a handset with a 3G or 4G connection, employees with a smart watch will have two devices and two sets of applications drawing on the same company-owned cellular data connection.
None of the current smart watches offer image or video capture but the push to add new features and functionality may remedy that as subsequent products and versions roll out. That suggests a sharp rise in mobile data costs from all the new image and video being created and shared.
Remember that even before the wearable buzz began to heat up, handset upgrade cycles were driving successive increases in mobile data consumption. Each new generation of iPhone, for example, has resulted in increases in data consumption of between 20-40 percent (source: JDSU Research 2014).
Operators are doing everything they can to make networks faster. End users have shown a strong propensity to use up as much data as networks and devices will provide. It all points to a new wave of bill shock. Whilst wearable security concerns are also mounting.
The need for wearables to interact and share data with smart phones and tablets creates a new class of security and privacy risks. If, as expected, smart watches follow a similar adoption cycle as smartphones and tablets, they’ll almost certainly prove tempting targets to malware creators and data thieves.
Analysts at Credit Suisse predict that the wearable device market will grow from $1.4bn (£878m) in annual sales in 2013 to $50bn (£31.3bn) by 2018. The question may well be, not ‘when they will arrive’ but ‘how can I keep them out?’