Get Ready for Apple Watch Wearing Employees

Get Ready for Apple Watch Wearing Employees

6 minute read
Frank Palermo avatar

1.2 million pre-orders of your newest wearable product in one day, resulting in $627 million on the books is not a bad day’s work.  

While the debates will continue on what the actual sales figures are for Apple Watch and other wearables, the real point is this: Apple Watch is creating a defining moment for wearables, as they cross over from technology gadgets to mass device consumption.

And what’s significant about mass adoption is that, in the age of consumerism, when it happens in the consumer base, enterprise adoption isn't far behind.    

It’s not just about Apple Watch sales, it’s also about the fact that its success will pull competing products into the market. They say a rising tide raises all boats. 

With the April 24 release date rapidly approaching, IT organizations don’t have much time to think through and adjust their policies (unless you plan on disabling Wifi and Bluetooth access on all your iPhones). 

So here are five things to consider when preparing your organization for this first wave of wearables about to bombard your enterprise.

An Enterprise Threat?

The introduction of any new device into enterprise IT environments is enough to make CIOs have sleepless nights. While in theory these devices can interact with business data and systems, the good news is that they are typically being tethered to smartphones (though some smartwatches on the market like the Galaxy Gear S do include their own cellular connection). 

Apple has promoted the Apple Watch as more of a “supervised” device. This implies a higher level of control, versus “managed” devices, such as phones and tablets that fall under a BYOD policy that typically includes the usage of a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution. 

5 Steps to Prepare

Despite the supervised classification, IT executives should consider these guidelines as they prepare for the inevitable infusion of smartwatches into their environment: 

Evaluate current BYOD and employee conduct policies

Assess policies for applicability to smartwatches and wearables. Should a wearable be treated the same as a mobile device or should it be restricted from accessing corporate systems and data?

Revise policies to clearly define how these devices will be classified, governed and managed. Provide education and awareness training to ensure employees understand the policies and guidelines for using wearables at work.

Revisit your security policies

Understand if Apple Watch devices will be managed and governed through current MDM and MAM applications. Increase or strengthen the use of data encryption technologies. Validate the usage and security of any third-party apps.  Make sure the watch is not being used as a surveillance device to capture information, eavesdrop, etc. 

Understand your data and application access and governance policies

Should smartwatch devices have the same access to corporate data and applications as phones and tablets? Are there data access risks for viewing sensitive data on the watch? Are there remote data wipe capabilities on the watch?   

Evaluate performance implications on both your networks and applications

Are your current network infrastructures and applications able to handle the additional device load? Does smartwatch access to email and calendaring cause issues with those applications?  

Define your application and enterprise app strategy

Will you begin to develop specific watch applications using the Apples WatchKit? Will your current app store support the deployment of watch apps? Will applications be full experiences (allowing input and output) or read only, “glances”? Do you have the expertise in house to develop and manage these apps?

Learning Opportunities

Searching for that Killer Use Case?

Many people are asking why Apple hasn’t been more aggressive in identifying and promoting key use cases for the Apple Watch. The reality is that it is a fine line for Apple to walk. The more useful the watch is portrayed, the more cumbersome the phone becomes. If every use case ends with not having to take your phone out, it may actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

Ultimately users will determine the best use cases and balance when it makes sense to use the watch versus the smartphone. Maybe the watch will help us all be less distracted and more present. Hopefully it will erase some friction in all of our lives. 

Here are some use cases that may emerge and provide benefits to enterprise users:

Tired of those ridiculous ID badges clipped to your belt? The smartwatch has the potential to liberate you from the traditional security key card access, by using built-in NFC capability to validate employee access, similar to how payments are processed. 

Are you ready for “moments” and “glances” at work? Instead of taking out intrusive smartphone devices, a quick glance at your smartwatch may not only prove to be more efficient but a little more respectful in those corporate meetings, where everyone seems to be staring into their smartphone.

Want to record that meeting summary or quick memo? Use your watch to quickly capture a few key sound bites. Want to dictate notes? The Evernote app is ready to tackle this and more such as to-do lists and reminders. 

Need some self-control? Maybe it’s possible to use the Health monitoring kit to track heart rate and perspiration and set an alert if it goes above a certain threshold. Might be a signal in an important meeting or sales call to keep your cool!

Too hard to reach for your wallet at the corporate cafeteria? Not a problem with your Apple Pay enabled smart watch. Just wave your wrist near the point of sale terminal. You don’t even have to put down your lunch tray.

Looking for that killer app? Adopt Salesforce1 with native support for wearables to deliver push notifications to your smartwatch, about business priorities to salespeople, service agents and marketers. With Siri support you can drill down into reports and graphs in James Bond fashion.

The Upshot

This is the next major evolution of the mobile worker. Just as phones drove different ways of working, the smartwatch will further distribute work processes into smaller chunks of work at a time. Work habits and processes will evolve across even more screens -- laptops, tablets, phones and now, the watch. And the modern business environment will now add another device in the arsenal, because the Apple Watch represents the next phase of mobility.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  contri 

About the author

Frank Palermo

Frank Palermo brings more than 22 years of experience in technology leadership across a wide variety of technical products and platforms. Frank has a wealth of experience in leading global teams in large scale, transformational application and product development programs.