5 steps to ensure a smooth adoption of wearable technology in your enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy

By Jonathan Crowl

No mobile technology is growing faster than wearables. The global wearable technology market is projected to grow to $25 billion by 2019, with 245 million devices in active use around the world, according to a study from CCS Insight.

Though wearables are often characterized as a consumer technology first, their enterprise applications are quickly on the rise. Grand View Research estimates by 2025, the enterprise wearable market will be worth $22.3 billion. Smartwatches and fitness trackers make up the majority of wearables currently produced, yet the report expects the market for headset wearables to explode in the coming years, particularly at the enterprise level.

Some businesses see wearables as a way to improve the health and work-life balance of their workers. It is estimated that 70 percent of multinational corporations will sponsor fitness wearables for their workers by the end of 2017.

Download Gartner report on managed mobility services

The benefits of wearables continue to pile up, and enterprise organizations are eager to invest in solutions that can take their workplace efficiency to the next level. In order to realize this dream, those companies need to adhere to a strict process for properly deploying these solutions in the workplace. Here’s a look at the diverse benefits of wearables and how to bring them to your organization:

The benefits of enterprise wearables

As wearables become more familiar and diverse in what they offer to businesses, their use in the enterprise environment is opening up an ever-growing number of opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity while gathering new data to drive business insights. Wearables are indispensable for businesses that want to monitor the health and well-being of remote workers. More generally, wearables provide the hands-free use of technology that can help employees effectively multitask.

In more specific applications, wearables can assist field workers using blueprints, schematics or other designs relevant to a work project. Smartwatches already host a number of apps that enable productivity, rapid communication and quick data retrieval. New benefits are being discovered all the time as developers create new wearables functionality and as businesses find new ways to leverage technology in the workplace.

Sign up for our newsletter
Stay on top of the latest mobile news and insights.

For companies eager to deploy wearable devices throughout their organization, there are five basic steps they should follow on the path to wearable adoption:

1. Identify the wearables you want to implement

Knowing the benefits of a wearable device is an important first step, but you also have to choose which solution provider you want to work with. In cases where multiple companies produce similar technologies designed to serve the same needs, you will want to consider the cost of the device, the ease of integration and maintenance, the projected ROI and your comfort working with the vendor.

2. Develop APIs to integrate into the mobile network

According to an Educause report on enterprise wearables, integration with other business technologies requires IT to write APIs to create seamless connections throughout the mobile network. Because some wearables are more flexible when it comes to enterprise development, you might need to consider the ease of integration when choosing your desired technologies — although most wearables designed for the enterprise are likely to facilitate smooth integrations with other software and solutions.

3. Update organizational policies to address the appropriate use of wearables

Even if you have a thorough device governance policy in place, it likely needs to be updated to account for wearables and the unique variables they represent. For example, you might have a BYOD policy for smartphones and tablets but a corporate-owned, personally enabled policy for wearable devices. You also might need to clarify whether user data collected from wearables is owned by the enterprise and whether individual workers have any control over how that data is used. You also might need to work with a consultant to make sure you covered all your bases before you launch wearables in the workplace.

4. Update your EMM strategy to provide security to wearables

If your current EMM solution isn’t able to reliably secure your wearable technology, seek out a third-party vendor to fill this gap in security and address specific challenges facing the use of wearables in the workplace. Additionally, consider how certain device management strategies such as geofencing can control which wearables are active, and where. For example, you could choose to disable wearables in labs or other data-sensitive areas, or even disable wearables when they leave the work campus.

Wearables have certain security considerations that differ from other mobile devices, even though some of the security recommendations are the same. The biometric data collected by wearables is unique to this technology and requires organizations to encrypt these data transmissions to protect user data. In addition, two-factor authentication is not available on some wearables, so organizations will have to restrict access to critical data. The Bluetooth technology enabled on many wearables is another potential vulnerability that will need to be addressed through policy and/or security measures.

5. Train employees before releasing the devices

One of the worst things you can do to compromise your security and the ROI of wearables is to pass them out without educating employees on proper use. This should include providing an overview of their benefits and the ways wearables are expected to be used, informing employees of changes to company-wide device policies and introducing them to new security threats faced by wearable technology. Workers should understand why certain rules are in place.

With a strong business use case and a thoughtful rollout of these technologies, you should be able to implement new wearable devices within months of identifying the solutions you want to adopt. Just be sure not to rush through certain steps in order to hit a deadline. Even if you have to slow down to support IT or ensure all employees are adequately trained, this extra time is well worth the inconvenience if it helps you leverage these new solutions without putting your enterprise network at risk.