Just a few years ago, a couple of analysts stuck their necks out and predicted that employees would be bringing their own IT equipment to work, and it would eventually replace equipment issued by their IT departments.
People scoffed at the idea at the time. Now, in 2013, BYOD -- bring your own device -- is as common as bottled water, and some organizations are even mandating that employees bring their own devices to work.
The next wave enterprises will see is wearable computers coming into the workplace. And once again, corporate leaders will be gnashing their teeth as to whether they should try to regulate this new influx of 'wear your own device,' or WYOD. (The earliest reference to the term WYOD I can find is attributable to Bill Knapp, published in January of this year.)
Chris Fleck, VP of mobility solutions & alliances for Citrix, says that as is the case with BYOD, wearable devices will be unstoppable, and the best approach is to find ways to leverage and capitalize on this new strain of ubiquitous computing that slips back and forth over the line between business and personal.
This includes devices such as intelligent glasses, computer-based watches, and even health-monitoring devices.
In a new article in Wearable Tech News, Fleck says organizations and their IT departments need to get out in front of this coming wave. For example, many devices still rely on tethering to smartphones, and this will be a factor in "IT decisions as to what devices to support in a BYOD program," he says.
Rob Livingston says WYOD means another coming disruption for IT departments. The result will be even more "shadow IT," he predicts. Wearable devices will indeed be shadowy, and will not be as visible as smartphones and tablets, and therefore may open up some security risks as well.
There may be many applications for business productivity that will be discovered as employees wear their new devices to work. When they first started bringing smartphones and tablets in a few years back, no one knew what to expect at first. Eventually, though, "executives who brought them into the office soon discovered that the iPad was a great tool for enabling the sales force in the field or for board meetings, and they started ordering them as company-issued devices," says Fleck. "Many also recognized the value and productivity gains of allowing the entire company to BYOD."
Fleck speculates on other emerging applications that will unveil themselves as WYOD catches on:
"New devices like Google Glass are likely to start being used for work in many scenarios that can benefit from hands-free and heads up operation. Take, for example, a surgeon viewing critical health stats without looking away, or an airplane mechanic having access to every manual and procedure while working. Then there are the more conventional uses, like business messages and photo and videos of whiteboard sessions and more. How many times did we all want an instant recall of a great brainstorming session? Google Glass may be more of a niche product initially, but wearables like a smartwatch are likely to go mainstream much sooner."