Over the past few years, organizations worldwide were forced to deal with an IT “problem” referred to as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). It started with smart phones, and now it’s occurring with other devices as well.
Here’s what happened: Most large organizations, as well as midsize and even smaller ones, required their people to have a Blackberry. By combining a cell phone with a secure, enterprise level email system, Blackberry changed how we use cell phones and took mobile working to a new level. Unlike the Blackberry, when the Apple iPhone came out, it transformed how we use our mobile phone by making it a handheld multimedia computer. As useful, inexpensive, and easy to install mobile apps took off, it didn’t take long for employees at all levels to discover the power of this transformative tool. It soon became common to see people with two phones: the Blackberry because they had to, and the iPhone because they wanted to. As soon as Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and a host of others got into the smart phone business, and the smart tablet business, BYOD became unstoppable.
Because of the rapid rise of the BYOD trend, the vast majority of companies found themselves reacting and putting out fires. Before BYOD, IT could control the use of technology. They’d issue the device and it would be locked down with the corporate IT firewall. But with more and more employees bringing in their own devices, IT’s efforts to keep a secure environment became almost impossible amongst the ever increasing number of devices they had little control over. In short, BYOD created a major IT problem, not just in the United States, but also in Europe and Asia.
Today, we have a new impending IT crisis, as well as an opportunity, that’s very predictable. Soon we will all be dealing with WYOD (Wear Your Own Device). Consider this: It’s estimated that one million wearable devices will ship by the end of 2014. It’s also estimated that there will be 300 million shipped by 2018, and I think that number will be far greater. That’s a lot of wearable devices. If people started bringing their own portable devices into the office and wrecking havoc on IT, you can bet it’s going to start happening with wearable technology, such as Google Glass, smart watches, and other types of computing devices you can wear, including the screenless smart phone I’ve written about in the past.
Therefore, I’m suggesting, from an organizational standpoint that includes business, government, and education, that everyone develop a WYOD strategy immediately—now—before the predictable problem hits. So instead of putting out fires like we did when the BYOD crisis hit, we can turn the impending WYOD crisis into an opportunity. So let’s develop guidelines right now and take what I call a “preactive” approach, which means we’re taking pre-action to a future known event.
To start looking at WYOD as an opportunity rather than a crisis, let’s start asking some new questions, such as: “How can we use smart watches with our sales team?” “How can we use Google Glass with all of our people who need to access data while standing up and moving around, like maintenance and customer service?” “How can we use the new wearable technologies to do things that we couldn’t do before, to increase productivity and efficiency?” “What wearable technology purchasing guidelines should we send to our employees?”
Wearable devices are here and they’ll only gain popularity as time goes on. Therefore, get ahead of the curve and harness the opportunities. As I always say, if it can be done, it will be done. The only question is, who will do it first? Now’s your chance to harness the opportunities before your competitors do.
DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books including The New York Times best seller Flash Foresight.