Scope out your local Apple store, lay out your camping gear, pack your favorite snacks, and get ready to line up for a new Apple Watch this April. Smartwatches, smartglasses, and even smartshirts and e-textiles are gaining popularity, especially now that Apple has joined the market. But, did you know that three-quarters of workers see wearables as beneficial to the workplace?
Thirty four percent of French companies plan to introduce company-owned wearable tech this year, compared to 33 percent of German companies, and one-quarter of all businesses in the United Kingdom. Similarly, 30 to 40 percent of companies worldwide expect to see a significant influx of employee-owned wearable tech entering their workplaces, yet fewer than 15 percent of these companies have a plan in place to manage these wearable devices. As your IT help desk prepares for an influx of Apple Watches this Spring, here’s the good and the bad surrounding wearables.
When Wearable Technology Can Be Beneficial to a Business
Certain types of workplaces can tremendously benefit from wearables. For example, the fitness industry has had resounding success with gadgets like FitBit that help keep customers engaged, active, and motivated while tracking their fitness success. Similarly, the medical industry can benefit from technology that keeps track of patient vital signs, as well as activity levels, to help stay on top of illness and disease. In fact, any business may see an increase in worker productivity and a decrease in health insurance costs with the ability to monitor employees’ fitness and healthy lifestyle choices.
Certain industries have particular circumstances where wearables, especially those with monitoring capabilities and GPS tracking systems, can be tremendously useful. In the fields of emergency response, manufacturing, mining, and other jobs where workers can be exposed to hazardous materials like carbon monoxide, chemicals, or radiation, e-textiles can monitor toxicity and get workers to safety if levels of exposure become unsafe. In logistics, the ability to track the movements of a truck driver alerts companies of truck theft, drivers abandoning a load, or dangerous situations like a driver taken hostage.
When Wearable Technology Can Be Harmful to a Business
As with any technology, wearables also have potential downsides. For example, it’s not yet clear how laws will address privacy issues associated with the help desk or other entities tracking workers and monitoring sensitive information about them gathered by wearable devices.
For purposes of systems backups and asset management, the IT help desk needs to address these issues:
- The security of wearables within the network
- The compatibility of these devices and apps with existing software and hardware
- The accessibility of wearables
- The information stored on them
Finally, help desks will have to find ways to deal with the immense data generated by these devices. The matter of collecting, storing, processing, analyzing, and using all that data is no small endeavor.