Bring Your Own Wearable

The trend lines for BYOD (bring your own device) are running up and to the right pretty fast. July 2013 research suggests 80 percent of respondents agree that BYOD is the “new normal” (even though only 45 percent have a formal BYOD policy in their company). My bet is that the security concerns that have hindered more widespread adoption will decrease. The recent enhancements of iOS 7 relative to enterprise concerns has led to large increases in buying plans for iPhones and iPad, for example, (see Amazon Workspaces now on iPad).


The additional cost of wearables and the complexities in their use make it harder for companies to ask their employees to switch to company gear. Besides, at least at this point, the average company is unlikely to feel that it should shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for wearables for its workers. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be happy to gain whatever productivity increase comes from their use.

The recent CES conference has stirred a great deal of excitement for wearable devices, despite the fact there really weren’t any world-beater products released there. But the geeky otherworldliness of Google Glass and the yearnings for iWatch are leading to a great deal of speculation about the wearable world to come. So, here’s a few observations:

Wearables will accelerate BYOD – The increased reliance on companion devices (so-called mobile: smartphones and tablets) will only increase when people acquire wearables. Some devices will only pair with certain OSs. Google Glass pairs with Android and iOS devices, and may pair with others they recommend only those two at present. We can expect similar pairings with Apple and other companies’ products. As a result, people who have acquired a smartwatch or some headgear that works well with their iPhone 6 will be even more disadvantaged and unproductive if they have to take off their rig every morning.

Note that since these wearable connect to smartphones and other devices, there don’t introduce a great deal of new security issues. That means they will speed not slow adoption of non-wearable devices in the business setting.

The additional cost of wearables and the complexities in their use make it harder for companies to ask their employees to switch to company gear. Besides, at least at this point, the average company is unlikely to feel that it should shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for wearables for its workers. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be happy to gain whatever productivity increase comes from their use.

BYOW undercut centralized IT even more than BYOD has – Since companies *won’t* take on the burden of outfitting these devices — which may wind up being some of the most used communications devices that people will be using — IT will start to look less and less central to the provisioning of the workforce, and more like the way that IT originally started: tending enterprise applications in the back room. The rise of desktop computers and networking pulled the dweebs out of the basement, and inserted them intot he foreground of everyday business operations.

Many companies had a Vice President of Electricity in the early 1900s, when electric power was a breakthrough and an esoteric innovation that few understood and which powered expensive machinery that only trained experts were permitted to touch. But with respect to ‘computication’ devices — like laptops, tablets, smartphones, and now wearables — the opposite is the case. Everyone knows how they work. They are low-cost and ubiquitous. So the time has come to chase the IT guys out of the building, and to aggressively move all enterprise software as fast as humanly possible to cloud services, and where companies will rent IT expertise by the hour, and it will be of higher quality and more up-to-date.

Wearables will be like the future, unevenly distributed — Some functions in business will adopt Google Glass-style headgear as fast as possible. Military, obviously. A great proportion of field workers, like construction, warehousing, security, policing, and the like, will likely be outfitted with headgear since it will free their hands, and allow for easy sharing of visuals. But I expect will see very fast adoption in retail, medical/hospital, and other customer/patient/client facing roles, so that information pertinent to customers can be readily accessed, and when connected to tablets, can be shared with them in real time. In these cases, the companies (or governments) will pay for the gear. And at some much later date, a trip to the DMV might have a clerk say to me — before I’ve said a word! — “Hello, Mr. Boyd. Are you hear to get a license renewal? I see you only have a few months left on your current one.”

Smart watches will spread even faster, because of their lesser geekiness factor and lower cost. I predict this will be the fastest adoption curve of all time, with hundreds of millions sold in the 12 moths following the release of a killer product, like an iWatch (2014) or a low-cost second generation Glass (2015?).

Wearables are the ultimate in the personalization of technology, often called consumerization. These gizmos will be touching our skin, perhaps 24 hours a day. We will be wearing them in the bathroom, while eating, while making love, and, yes, while in meetings with clients, and while doing a talk’n’walk with a colleague. They will become indispensable immediately, the way that laptops did for the mobile worker in the ’90s, and smartphones did in the ’00s.


The time has come to chase the IT guys out of the building, and to aggressively move all enterprise software as fast as humanly possible to cloud services, and where companies will rent IT expertise by the hour, and it will be of higher quality and more up-to-date.

And they will increase the value of smartphones in a non-additive way, making us less reliant than we might otherwise have become on tablets. Tablets are now — in a world about to be swamped with wearables — more likely to be seen as a replacement for laptops and desktops, rather than a big smartphone.

The implications of wearables for business are very, very rich, and they will become the foreground of communications in business very, very quickly.

Relevant Analyst
Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd

Lead analyst, future of work Gigaom Research and stoweboyd.com

Do you want to speak with Stowe Boyd about this topic?

Learn More
You must be logged in to post a comment.

No Comments Subscribers to comment

Explore Related Topics

Latest Research

Latest Webinars

Want to conduct your own Webinar?
Learn More

Learn about our services or Contact us: Email / 800-906-8098