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By 26 May 2015 | Categories: Hardware

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Nick Black, EUC Business Manager, VMware Sub-Saharan Africa

It’s no surprise that in recent times, we have seen the style and aesthetic appeal of consumer technology not only capture the attention of the enterprise world but also creep into its hallowed halls. What this has done is pave the way for true business mobility. This has spurred movements such as Mobile First, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) and the rise of the Mobile Cloud within business. The newest entrant to the wearable market as we now see it is the shiniest of them all, the Apple Watch. This device has the potential to transform employee productivity. However, greater investment is needed and certain barriers overcome in order for mobile to really take off and for all these fashionable devices to be supported securely.

Today’s business

Sitting at the forefront of trends in mobility are those businesses that are driven by the need to transform customer experience. In short it can enable staff to better engage with customers, can cut queuing times in retail stores, can enable the swift management of information for executives and can ensure quality assurance in the production line, for example. If we look at utilities companies at the beginning of the century, mobile devices were heavily relied upon for fieldwork; this requirement has only increased. In retail, many of the big brand stores now have dedicated mobile applications for quick and easy mobile purchases and they’re experimenting with the latest in mobile payments where Apple Watch will no doubt feature, yes this is happening locally too, and not just on the London High Street.

The opportunity that exists here is that mobile can transform the way businesses work and ultimately improve on customer service. But it’s not over yet and many more need to wake up to the possibilities. That said this is an evolving and innovative market, driven by the desire of consumers to be mobile and stylish – so now businesses need to move quickly if they are to stay competitive and to meet employee demands, fashion and expectations.

More than a watch

Why is it more than just a fashion accessory? The Apple Watch gives employees the ability to increase productiveness – by enabling them to check emails, access applications, or message their colleagues and customers while they are out of the office. One of the most powerful benefits that the Apple Watch brings home is the ability to access applications, with Salesforce.com and Expedia just two examples of the apps that will be available. Salesforce Analytics Cloud will enable users to view performance graphs and drill down into raw data, capabilities the company says will be ready later this year.

With its voice recognition software, users of the Apple Watch will be able to provide updates to customer management systems via a voice message. This is instead of having to use their iPhone, laptop, or PC for this function. Ok, so it’s not quite in the same league as the James Bond smart watch, it is going in the right direction and will no doubt bring cool-factor to meetings and the office as well as added functionality.

But with all of these bells and whistles it is still important to ask – how, when using this device, do we ensure that the data on them remains safe so that customer privacy won’t be compromised in favour of cool or slick.  

How can businesses protect themselves?

The key thing business needs to consider is “how do they keep the apps on these devices watertight”. We propose three main steps they need to consider:

1.     Modify policies and support multiple devices: BYOD policies need to be flexible enough to support the adoption of new devices like the Apple Watch and then add them to the management policies in line with current risk mitigation.

2.     Redefine security: We need to stop thinking about the physical layer of security and start thinking about one that redefines the whole approach, as we move to a software-defined world (brought about by the apps that run on wearable technology such as Apple Watch and other mobile devices). In short security needs to be part of the DNA of application deployment rather than an afterthought.

3.     Wider education: Employees need to know that they are not just responsible for the physical hardware now – but also the security of the data on these devices. It is important to empower them.

Importantly, the IT department is well placed to lead on this trend towards mobility and even support the latest fashionable, wearable devices and gadgets that draw so much attention in the consumer world. But IT needs to start by making the right architectural choices with regards to the user, the services delivered and the control and management of the devices.

Which leads us to the point where IT needs to embrace the notion of Mobile First, this will only be successful if it is couple with the mobile cloud, which will in turn enable businesses the ability to govern and monitor access to data, ultimately better protecting it. Yes Apple Watch is just the latest fad – but organisations need to not only account for today’s on-trend devices, but also the fashion of the future, as technology pushes the boundaries further.

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