Cisco believes that, by 2020, there will be 50 billion IoT devices worldwide. Gartner predicts 25 billion. Either way, that’s a huge increase from the 4.9 billion connected things we had last year. Add to that wearble tech, such as Fitbit, which sold over 13 million devices last year, and it’s clear these technologies are going to change the face of corporate IT management forever. The million dollar question is how?

Security needs to be everywhere

Think about it. In this connected future not only will the walls have ears but every employee’s wrist too. That means there needs to be a lot of rethinking of security expectations and priorities.You might ask why anyone would subject their personal integrity or company data to this sort of risk? Well, research already shows the popularity of wearable tech. Take Fitbit, for example. Countless people already love these devices, which are jam packed with health data. But just wait until wearable devices are regularly used for approving payments, opening garage doors, controlling home lighting and heating. Once this happens, we believe they’ll become as every day and as indispensable as your smartphone.

The business of wearables 

So, what about business use? If you think it’s cool that retail personnel have a mobile point of sale systems, imagine that in a wearable. We don’t know yet if the watch or glasses will be the defining way in which a human-computer interface is worn in ten years, but whatever happens, we’re confident it’s going to be awesome. Yet, as we move into unchartered territory, IT departments can prepare by taking control over their company mobile user experience.

The Bellabeat LEAF is an early, yet promising vision of a health tracking device that a real person might want to wear, without doctor’s orders.

Why wearables will need mobile management

The first steps towards practical wearable tech have mirrored the approach of mobile peripherals. Both Apple Watch and Google Glass and Android Wear are technically Bluetooth devices that tap into the owner’s mobile for Internet access. The reasons for this are technical: a full cell connection is still too heavy for a small battery in a wearable to handle. The first, now discontinued version, of Google Glass already had Wi-Fi, but it’s essentially managed through a web interface and mobile app. And with mobile carriers being what they are in most markets, it would take a Steve Jobsian effort to force carriers into making mobile plans more device neutral. So, it seems unlikely a future Glass or Watch will be an untethered, standalone device anytime soon.

From an IT management perspective, all of the above makes management of wearables a mobile project. As time goes on and these devices become more independent, it’s likely that their operating system will rely on frameworks and APIs similar or compatible with mobile operating systems, at least to the extent that devices use iOS and Android derivatives. For example, the watchOS running on Apple Watch is a stripped down version of iOS.

How managing them will be possible 

Both iOS and Android have extensive support for Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems that make fleets of corporate or BYOD devices a known entity for IT managers. Such system, like Miradore’s free MDM, offer IT managers all the tools needed to find a suitable balance between user convenience and sometimes necessary tools like location tracking and application whitelisting.

So, there you go: our thoughts on why managing wearables will continue making corporate IT infrastructure more mobile-aware. Doubtless ten years from now, after we’ve failed to predict some killer, we’ll look back and laugh at our predictions, but that’s the nature of this industry. If you thoughts around wearables or what and how they’ll be used, let is know in the comments.

If you’d like to join us with your thoughts on wearables and how they’ll be used, we’d love to hear them. So please feel free to share in the comments below.

Title image: Joachim Rotteveel

Thomas Nybergh

Thomas Nybergh

Thomas Nybergh is a writer with a passion for mobile technology and user-centred design. He has spent nearly a decade working at the crossroads of technology and marketing and now spends far too much time on the internet helping to make it tick.
Thomas Nybergh