Wearable devices in the enterprise environment are likely to mirror recent trends related to consumerization of IT in the workplace, as we have seen with smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The concept of “bring your own wearable” (BYOW) is that employees will purchase and use their own personal wearable device in the workplace, similar to the “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomenon experienced by IT departments in recent years. As the wearables market grows, we are likely to see a number of employees wearing their own smart watches, fitness trackers, or even smart glasses to work and utilizing them to varying degrees in the course of doing business.
With BYOW, the Role of Enterprise IT is Unlikely to Change
With most wearables piggybacking on a smartphone through a Bluetooth connection, we should not expect new IT issues to emerge. Most enterprise IT departments have accepted the consumerization of the workplace, with BYOD playing a big role especially with regard to smartphones. The advent of cloud services related to email, file storage, and instant messaging has made the role of enterprise IT largely focused on tech support and solving downtime issues or device compatibility issues, rather than building or maintaining these services in house.
The introduction of wearables in the workplace is unlikely to change the underlying trend of how the role of IT is shifting within the enterprise, although it might increase support calls or tickets around wearables to some extent if employees cannot access their enterprise services on their wearable device.
Smart Watches Will be the Main BYOW
Smart watches will be the primary mass-market consumer wearable, according to Tractica’s findings as outlined in our report on Smart Watches. If an employee owns a smart watch, they are unlikely to remove it when they come into the office. Rather than being a liability, the smart watch could be beneficial to employees throughout their workday. In corporate environments where employees are largely confined to desk jobs, with meetings scattered through the day, smart watches are likely to become important notification devices. Notifications about emails, IMs, or calendar appointments will now be available at a glance to the wrist rather than fidgeting through your pocket for your phone or unlocking your phone screen. We can also expect increased productivity in the workplace, with employees spending less time checking their phones, and instead glancing at their wrists. Ultimately, enterprises should see productivity benefits from smart watches, and if BYOW is driving it, employers are less likely to bother about replacing that with their own smart watches.
Watches are personal devices, with personalization, looks, and fashion being an important element. It’s unlikely that enterprises would dictate which watch an employee should wear to work, as it is a personal choice.
With fitness tracker functionalities transferring to the smart watch, it will become less common for the average employee to have a personal fitness tracker on their wrist, unless they are an avid sports and fitness enthusiast. Fitness trackers are likely to continue playing a role in corporate wellness, but most of these trackers will be employer-provided or subsidized rather than BYOW.
Smart glasses could become a BYOW device at some point, too, but most enterprise activity suggests that this will be employer-provided, customized for specific enterprise tasks.
BYOW and Corporate Wellness Will Go Hand in Hand
Corporate wellness is a growing trend especially in North America, with wearables playing an important role in motivating employees to be healthy and productive, in return being incentivized with retail vouchers or reduced insurance premiums. Fitness trackers are driving most of this trend today, with the leading companies like Fitbit and Misfit having dedicated programs focused on corporate wellness. In addition, new players like Jiff have emerged that offer corporate wellness platforms, which are device-agnostic and work hand in hand with other benefit software platforms.
Most of wearable corporate wellness today, either device-specific or device-agnostic, is driven by employer-provided devices, rather than by BYOW. Tractica sees this trend changing with the Apple Watch and the broader growth of smart watches as they replace demand for fitness trackers. As pointed out earlier, smart watches will be the main BYOW, and it is going to become harder for fitness tracker companies to convince employees to wear both a tracker and a smart watch, when the watch is able to have similar or more advanced fitness tracking features. Device-agnostic providers like Jiff should benefit from this trend as they simply design their platforms to support smart watches like the Apple Watch, and have apps embedded into the watch, essentially serving as extensions of their current mobile apps.