Over the past few years, we have seen the style and aesthetic appeal of consumer technology capture the attention of the enterprise world. This has paved the way for true mobility within the enterprise. Mobile First, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) and the rise of the Mobile Cloud are becoming increasingly popular within business both now and in the future. And the shiniest entrant to the wearable mobile technology market, Apple Watch, is yet another device that has the potential to transform employee productivity, and look good while doing so. However, greater investment is needed and certain barriers overcome in order for mobile to really take off and for all these fashionable devices to be supported securely.
Where are businesses now?
Businesses that are driven by the need to transform customer experience have already been at the forefront of the mobility trend, as it can enable staff to better engage with customers, can cut queuing times in retail stores, can enable the swift management of information for executives and can ensure quality assurance in the production line, for example. If we look at utilities companies at the beginning of the century, mobile devices were heavily relied upon for field work; this requirement has only increased. In retail, many of the big high street stores have dedicated mobile applications for quick and easy mobile purchases and they’re experimenting with the latest in mobile payments where Apple Watch will no doubt feature.
There is a tremendous opportunity for mobile to transform the way businesses work and to improve customer service. However, many more need to wake up to the possibilities. As an area that is constantly evolving and innovating to meet our desire as consumers to be mobile and stylish, organisations must move fast in order to stay competitive and to meet employee demands, fashion and expectations.
Not just a pretty face
Apple Watch has the potential to increase employee productiveness – to check emails, access applications, or message their colleagues and customers while they are out of the office. Accessing applications will be particularly powerful, with Salesforce.com and Expedia just two examples of the apps that will be available. Salesforce Analytics Cloud will enable users to view performance graphs and drill down into raw data, although these capabilities won’t be ready until later this year.
The voice recognition software on the Apple Watch will also enable users to provide some updates to customer management systems through voice messages, instead of having to use their iPhone, laptop, or PC. While it’s not quite in the James Bond smart watch league, it is certainly a leap in the right direction and will no doubt bring cool-factor to meetings and the office as well as added functionality.
It certainly provides a fantastic opportunity to boost productivity, but as with any mobile device, organisations do need to consider how to ensure this data remains safe on these devices, so that customer privacy won’t be compromised in favour of beauty.
How can businesses protect themselves?
Organisations need to make sure that trendy devices like the Apple Watch, and all the applications that run on them, are watertight. Here are the three main steps they need to consider:
1. Modify policies and support multiple devices: Those organisations that have adopted BYOD will need to modify their policies to support the adoption of new devices like the Apple Watch and manage them in the best way possible, including identifying any new risks and how they are mitigated.
2. Redefine security: A change in mind-set is required to move away from the physical layer of security to one that redefines the whole approach, as we move to a software-defined world (brought about by the apps that run on wearable technology such as Apple Watch and other mobile devices).
Security needs to be part of the DNA of application deployment rather than an afterthought. For this reason, businesses need to look at having the right infrastructure in place to secure the entire ecosystem from the devices themselves, to applications, data, content, email and the wider network, while making sure they are compliant to regulations.
3. Wider education: It is not just the physical hardware that needs addressing. Organisations also need to consider education of the end-user as ultimately they are also responsible for company data and if they feel empowered the likelihood is they will act with care.
The IT department is well placed to lead on this trend towards mobility and even support the latest fashionable, wearable devices and gadgets that draw so much attention in the consumer world. Making the right architectural choices is an essential starting point, both in terms of the user, the services delivered and the control and management of the devices.
If Mobile First is truly going to take off, employees should have one place to securely access all the applications, files, social tools and online services they need, from any device they choose, everywhere. Taking the route of the mobile cloud will enable businesses the ability to govern and monitor access to data, giving a much stronger chance of protecting this data.
With the right tools and solutions available, now is the time to fully embrace wearables and mobile first strategies within the workplace and to start to reap the benefits. Apple Watch is just the latest fad. Businesses not only need to account for today’s on-trend devices, but also the fashion of the future, as technology pushes the boundaries further.