Wearables In The Workplace: The Hurdles, Benefits And Opportunities


The adoption of wearables has grown rapidly in the consumer world, but why has adoption been slower in the enterprise and what are the potential benefits?

Hurdles and concerns

It is clear that wearables offer multiple potential benefits to businesses of all sizes, but there are still plenty of obstacles holding back widespread adoption. 

The most notable are undoubtedly privacy and security concerns. As we’ve already discussed, wearables collect a vast amount of data and, unless properly managed, this data could potentially be exploited by malicious outsiders, especially seeing as personal devices are now more at risk from ransomware than ever before. 

“Given the huge competition in the growing IoT and wearables market, there is a huge rush to get these products to the market, which means that manufacturers often rely on third-party code libraries to shorten the development process and reduce costs,” commented Raj Samani, CTO EMEA at Intel Security

“This haste and reliance on third-party software is where potential security threats can arise. When developers are pressed for time, security is often left on the back burner. That is if security is even thought of. Wearable devices are designed to follow the user wherever they go, making the data inherently sensitive. This makes them a prime target for ransomware attacks, where cyber criminals blackmail users for their sensitive data.”

smartwatch driving car, smartwatches

Furthermore, as the majority of wearables are connected in some way to a smartphone, they can be used as an access point to steal more serious corporate information such as business emails, passwords or, customer data or intellectual property. 

As well as digital transformation helping to foster the use of wearable devices in the workplace, the relative infancy of some digital strategies means many businesses simply aren’t ready. 

Moloney said: “Many businesses are still developing digital transformation strategies and have yet to incorporate wearables and the applications that reside on them as part of the planning process. 

“Digital disruption is rewriting the workplace rulebook and many organisations are still working out the role wearables will play. What’s important is that businesses view these technologies as enablers of growth, in terms of employee workstyle innovation and increasing productivity across the company.” 

The key for employers, according to Jack Curzon, head of scheme design at Thomsons Online Benefits, is to identity clear objectives for the data that is being collected, make sure they have the necessary permissions to collect and use this data and find a way to make wearable devices indispensable to employees. 

After all, if employees aren’t consistently wearing their device, the investment will be wasted. Integrating the data collection technology with an existing device such as a smartphone would be a solution, also meaning that the data can be collected in an automated way. 

“Devices can produce reams of data on their wearer; whether they smoke regularly, how long they take for lunch, what they’ve eaten and how many steps they’ve taken to burn this off (or not),”  Curzon said. “The potential for employers to use this data to inform workplace initiatives, targeted to the specific requirements of employees, is huge. 

“If employers leap these hurdles, gather the data they need and the necessary permissions to use it, the possibilities for real workforce transformation are endless. Employers will be able to use data to inform strategic decisions, drive initiatives and measure their success.”

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