Unless you’ve been living beneath a large rock for the past year or so, you ought to be familiar with the juggernaut that is wearable technology. Spearheaded by a handful of the world’s largest technology vendors – Samsung, Apple, Google to name but a few – wearable devices (or ‘wearables’ as they’ve been trendily nicknamed) have gone from outlandish idea to this year’s must-have tech toy in a matter of months.
Of course, the buzz around wearable tech hasn’t gone unnoticed. Despite being marketed as a customer facing, many businesses have been busy developing ways to utilise wearable tech to make valuable gains within their industry.
But given that wearable technology is still in its earliest stages of development, how effective are wearables likely to be in a business setting, and are there any risks enterprises face by meddling with the still-emerging tech?
To find out, we set out to answer the question – what does wearable technology mean for small business owners?
How can businesses utilise wearable technology in the workplace?
As far as some companies are concerned, the sky’s the limit when it comes to wearable technology. From warehouse workers to mountain rescue teams, the technology has already been adopted by many enterprises that have found genuine, practical uses for smartwatches, smart glasses and other wearable technologies.
If you own a start-up business however, there are things to consider before you climb aboard the wearables’ wagon. Firstly, the remote hands-free capabilities of such tech may sound appealing, but from a business point of view, this will only benefit users that require instant access to important data on the go. Think emergency service teams, taxi drivers, travelling salesman and estate agents.
Secondly, business leaders need to be aware of the managerial issues that follow the deployment of wearable technology in the workplace – both in terms of security, accessibility and usage restrictions.
At present, most employees have limited access to sensitive company data, and rarely take work home with them. What happens then, if workers are suddenly capable of accessing data directly from their wrist? This raises all sorts of questions regarding the security and configuration of wearable technologies, and could deter some organisations from adopting the tech.
Does wearable technology pose a risk to small businesses?
Given the growing popularity of wearable technology, many businesses have pursued the early adoption of wearable tech as a way to make market gains over competitors – without first considering the security risks involved.
Whilst most devices are dependent on secure Bluetooth tethering to access the web, researchers have found that it is not the devices themselves but the consumer apps that pose the real threat to businesses.
According to research undertaken by Veracode, there are currently 2,400 wearable tech apps deemed unsafe for corporate use. Of these apps, 85% are known to leak sensitive data, whilst a further 35% collected personal data about the user – including their browsing history and calendar information.
To understand how businesses can prevent sensitive information being leaked via unsafe wearable tech apps, we spoke to the folks at UK MDM, who said: “Wearable technology isn’t going anywhere, so it’s up to businesses and developers to come up with a way to make such tech safe for business users. Businesses need to consider the dependability of their current MDM, and identify any areas where it could be improved to accommodate future wearable technologies.”
Whilst the complete adoption of wearable technology remains some way off, tech giants Cisco have previously predicted that by 2020 there will be over 50 billion devices connected to the internet across the globe – many of which will be wearable. What does this mean for small businesses? It means that now is the time to bite the bullet and invest in wearable technologies if you want your business to compete effectively in an increasingly tech-driven marketplace.