BYOD: Enterprise must brace for Apple Watch release

'Businesses will definitely have to handle bring your own wearables,' says Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda

Apple Watch, coming April 24

Apple Watch, coming April 24

Businesses should brace themselves to deal with a wave of wearables in the workplace, with people almost certain to use the Apple Watch for work tasks according to Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda.

Apple announced overnight that its first smartwatch will launch on 24 April in Australia with a starting price of US$349.

“It definitely has the marketing clout of Apple and the style appeal,” he told Computerworld Australia.

Many existing smartwatches are “ugly black squares” but Apple has spent a lot of money on making the Watch a device people “want to have,” he said.

He added that Apple has historically been good at taking existing technologies and improving their usability – as they did with MP3 players and phones.

“Businesses will definitely have to handle bring your own wearables,” said Gedda.

“Organisations already have wearables coming into the workplace and as they become more prolific, then they’ll be like the smartphones before them, able to read and view company data on the device.”

“That should be a concern for IT managers because on one hand you have the productivity promises of people using their own technology ... but you’ve obviously got to balance that with the potential risk that having unmanaged devices on the network brings.”

Companies that already have bring-your-own (BYOD) device strategies will be better prepared for an influx of wearable devices, he said.

“A lot of the strategies around bring your own wearables are going to be in line with bring your own device.”

Those include education initiatives for employees on how to responsibly use wearables in the workplace and security management tools to keep business data protected, he said.

BYOD aside, businesses may also explore whether the Apple Watch is a good fit for their employees, said Gedda.

While designed for consumers, many apps on the Apple Watch will be applicable to a business context, including email, messaging and travel bookings, said Gedda.

While the same apps are available on smartphones and tablets, there could be cases where it is more practical—or more fashionable—for workers to do these functions on a watch, he said.

“It’s all about form factor.”

For example, because the Apple Watch is a fashion accessory, it might have a place in retail and other customer-facing jobs, he said. Or it could be useful for a pilot who can’t keep a phone in their pocket, he said.

“There’s no shortage of blue sky opportunities for wearables in business.”

Read more: Apple Watch arrives April 24, some models top $10K

In some ways, wearables in the workplace is not a new concept, noted Gedda. While not slick, do-it-all devices like the modern batch of smartwatches, wearable computers have been used in a variety of sectors, including healthcare, mining and the military.

“There’s not a lot of standards out there — a lot of devices are designed fit for purpose,” he said.

“The new wave of wearable technology has an opportunity to standardise a lot of that with accessories and applications.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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