June 12, 2015
Today, we will turn our attention to yet another technical challenge dealing with everyone’s favorite keyword “data.”
Data Analytics & Interoperability
Data, data, data. Why is the data collected by wearable devices such a big deal? Well for starters, it’s a lot of data! But there are also accuracy, consistency, management, and security issues when it comes to data and wearable technology.
One of the greatest challenges confronting wearable tech in general (and not just in the workplace) is the accuracy and consistency of the data. Sources are divided on just how accurate the data stemming from wearables is. Really, it’s the sensor technology embedded in wearables that is questionable. When it comes to motion tracking, for example, some sources report that wearable devices are actually less accurate than smartphone apps; others report significant discrepancies among the readings presented by multiple devices for a single wearer and the same activity. Should similar inaccuracies extend to wearable sensors intended to detect hazardous gases on an oil rig or used in other critical scenarios, then that would certainly constitute cause for concern.
So let’s say the accuracy of the data improves. What then? Several analysts cite difficulties in unlocking the value of wearable data as a major issue holding wearable tech back from having a truly significant impact in the enterprise. At the moment, it is not clear just what to make of the data collected by wearable devices, or how to put it to good use. In other words, it is difficult to access the data in a meaningful way that might lead to key changes or improvements in an organization. Improved communication, increased productivity, and better safety are all great – and currently realistic – benefits of wearables in a variety of business environments, including the retail sales floor and the construction jobsite; but if enterprises can take the data just one step further, it would potentially generate invaluable insight about employee engagement, office structure, process flows, and other factors that might indicate key areas for change in the workplace.
Then, there is the matter of interoperability. The data provided by wearable tech can be applied very basically, as in a closed experience between the wearable device and a supporting mobile app or other mobile web experience. In this scenario, the wearable technology acts pretty much as a standalone. In business and industry, however, much more can be gleaned – and gained – by integrating wearables into a broader interoperable ecosystem. Wearable technology (and the accompanying data) must be integrated into the enterprise IT architecture so that it can interoperate – i.e. exchange information and functions – with existing software platforms as well as traditional mobile & desktop devices.