I’ve been focused on losing weight for a good portion of the year, after a visit to the doctor pushed me to act. I know myself well enough to know I needed a system to help me, so I signed up for WeightWatchers and got to it. I’d used the system once before, but was pleased to note a new app in addition to the website. Notably, however, was integration with the Apple Health app, and my Apple Watch. Not only could I log my food with the app, and my weight with integration to my smart scale, but my movement would factor in for my fitness. This bit of integration has resulted in me being a lot more conscious about making sure to get in my steps for the day—it helps ensure a good week!
The point of mentioning this is to highlight the fact that wearable technologies generally have specific applications. While smart watches—particularly with focus on activity and sport tracking—tend to dominate the mindshare, they are only one example of the technology. There are applications in navigation systems, healthcare, and textiles. Wearable cameras, such as those used in law enforcement, are another example.
Two key factors will ultimately influence the success of a wearable technology. The first is the utility of the device. Does it solve a particular problem for the user? Take wearable cameras, for example. Solving the challenge of documentation for law enforcement is a useful business need, but far less so outside that specific sector. Bolting technology onto a person’s clothing has to have a need.
The second is style appeal when focused on broad consumer or business uses. Remember Google Glass? One of the major reasons it failed to take off was simply the fact that wearers looked bad wearing them. Sex appeal? I don’t think so. Few could pull off wearing Google Glass socially. Add to that privacy concerns, and it was all but inevitable the technology would end up on the discard pile for most users. Wearables for consumers fit a unique place in technology with a requirement for most to be both useful and fashionable. Glass has been much more successful in manufacturing and medicine, where fashion is not a critical consideration.
For a managed service provider (MSP), wearable technology brings up specific questions to ask. From a business perspective, what problem is the device solving? Understanding the need will help the solution provider manage it correctly.
Next, you should understand what data is being leveraged on the device, and how the device will secure that. Much of the data collected by wearables is personal, requiring a certain level of security. Additionally, having corporate data stored on the device—even data like email—requires the same security requirements that any endpoint would demand.
Finally, the MSP should determine what level of support they are going to provide, and ensure their documentation and training are ready to deliver that. For example, you should think closely about how you should support an Apple Watch user.
The reality at the moment is wearable technologies are still in their infancy, and for most MSPs and solution providers, these scenarios will be minor. Most businesses are not yet using wearable technologies in a way that will require full management and support. Each provider may choose some support, for CEOs, for example, on common technologies. However, the most important thing you can do at this stage is to make an active decision about that management, rather than be surprised.
Dave Sobel is senior director of MSP Evangelism at SolarWinds MSP. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @djdaveet
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