By Martin Walshaw, senior engineer at F5 Networks
There was a period a couple of years ago when it seemed that every other article you read mentioned Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Now it seems to have largely fallen off the radar, replaced by Bring Your Own Anything (BYOx) and has become an accepted part of the IT landscape under the wider heading of ‘mobility’.
But this doesn’t mean that BYOD has gone away. Far from it. Even if it’s not the hot topic, all devices that want access to enterprise networks or applications need to be tracked and secured according to the policies that have been put in place – this has become standard practice for businesses. On the horizon though is a new wave of BYOD, coming in all shapes and sizes, with wearable tech.
As consumer tech businesses scramble to create the next big thing, there is no doubt that we’ll start to see these having an impact on corporate resources. Some of these devices will have more of an impact than others: a fitness tracking wearable might eat up a little bit of bandwidth on Wi-Fi but an interactive and immersive device (for example, Google Glass) that is demanding access to files and broader Internet connectivity may start to bump up against firewall and access control issues. With wearables predicted to be a huge growth market, it’s a matter of when, not if, this will happen.
Unlike BYOD though, we’re aware of the impending issues. While smartphones, tablets and the like were dismissed as something of a fad, most businesses have learned their lessons and are better prepared to react to developments. What’s more, the professional use cases are more easily recognised (think wearable cameras for the police or head-mounted displays for surgeons), meaning there will be a greater readiness in some quarters to adopt the technology.
This greater awareness and willingness to embrace wearable technology puts most businesses in a position to prepare themselves adequately for the changing ways in which employees will be using technology in years to come. And as forewarned is forearmed, there should be no excuse for businesses to be unprepared for the impact of the new wave of BYOD. Here are a few thoughts on how to prepare your business for wearable tech:
- Make sure that your applications are protected – no matter what devices are connecting to the network; if you protect data at the application level you should be in good stead
- Plan for an influx of devices and the impact they will have on capacity and bandwidth
- If staff will be using wearables for business purposes, prepare guidance on the applications and acceptable use
- It’s crucial that your company maintains control over who has access to your network and data. Understanding who is accessing, where from and on what device will allow this level of control
Technology and processes can support businesses through the changing flow of data brought on by wearable technology, but businesses must also remember the people factor, and to communicate any BYOD policy. This will ensure that employees and processes are aligned and that business data is accessed within company policy, regardless of the shift in end-user technology.