June 11, 2015
Today, we're turning our attention to another technical challenge of enterprise wearables—IT infrastructure.
Brace yourselves because we’re about to get technical… As with smartphones and tablets in previous phases of the mobile business revolution, enterprises will have to fit wearable technology into their existing IT infrastructures somehow, or else overhaul the architecture of their current IT plans to accommodate wearable devices and the loads of accompanying data.
Numerous articles have advised: Companies should begin strategizing around wearables and the applications deployed to these devices sooner rather than later; they should get their IT departments “primed and ready,” even though company-wide distribution of wearable devices may be a few years off. But what does this involve? What do IT teams need to be aware of?
While this challenge doesn’t necessitate that a company create its own wearable gadget (a la Walt Disney World), it may very well involve writing application program interfaces (APIs) and even conceiving original apps for those devices whose manufacturers have fairly open and flexible platforms for development. IT departments will have to integrate wearables with existing enterprise software systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), work order management, and other legacy corporate systems. In many cases, these systems will need to be adapted or even replaced, since most are built to accept form-based data entry. Wearable-based systems, on the other hand, (should) intuitively harness and access data and feedback, which is an entirely different approach.
Whether tasked with developing apps for new wearable systems or with creating entirely new products (devices or software), or simply instructed to integrate newly adopted wearables into the company system; IT departments will have to adapt and/or overhaul in one form or another to prepare for wearable tech in the workplace. Consider the volume of data that wearable technology will produce: The tradition in IT is to collect data first and determine its use later (and also to input data, as opposed to continuous collection). This results in unwieldy hoards of data that are of little value. We don’t want hoards of useless data with this next phase of mobile technology. To make the most of wearable data, tradition will have to be overturned and IT departments will have to be at their most innovative, figuring out how best to manage and interpret the information. IT departments will also have to be at their most cautious, as wearables open up enterprises to a host of new vulnerabilities.