Making wearables work for the enterprise

With Apple receiving almost one million pre-orders for its iWatch on the first day of accepting orders, Greg Hanson, Vice President Business Operations EMEA at Informatica, looks at how wearable devices will start to infiltrate the enterprise and what organisations can do to prepare.

The rising popularity of wearable devices – everything from smart glasses to smart watches and wristbands – has made data fashionable again.

Aesthetics may be at the forefront of the development process but wearables have been created from a ‘data-centric’ point of view so that relevant information can be seamlessly shared across relevant apps and platforms.

The possibilities for wearables and the data that they collect are vast. For example, a device called Embrace was unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show, which has been designed to save children’s lives. The idea is that it can be used to measure stress, epileptic seizures, activity and sleep to automatically detect warning signs and signal an alert when an unusual event is likely to happen.

Wearables are also being adopted in the classroom to help support children with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, or Mood Disorders. The devices continuously collect biometric data and help clinicians, educators and parents better understand when a child is starting to become deregulated.

This data can then be integrated with therapeutic and educational strategies, providing greater insight into a practice that is currently based largely on trial and error.

Condensing the world onto a wearable device

As wearable devices continue to grow in popularity among users, and developers become more familiar with operating systems, we will start to see more use cases for this smart technology emerge.

However, as the world is condensed onto a wearable device, it will become another critical data source generating masses of information that needs to be collated, corrected and analysed.

To realise the vast possibilities of the data that wearable technologies collect, data management is one of the most important pillars that will enable organisations to innovate. Currently, IDC believes that just three per cent of the potentially useful data within organisations is tagged and less then one per cent is analysed. For wearable technologies to be successfully adopted in the enterprise, this needs to change and highlights the importance of safe, clean and connected data.

Often the challenge is not about collecting the data but understanding how to use it effectively. Ultimately, all wearables are connected, generating data and can be monitored or managed from another location.

However, the huge volume of data that connected devices are producing is not always straightforward. Similar devices produce different types of content and on different software levels, and for the data to make sense it often needs to be put into context with a set of master data.

The connective tissue

Increasingly, it is the Cloud that is being used as the connective tissue for merging data from a variety of on-premise enterprise systems with Cloud applications to provide an integrated view of data.

The Cloud is also being used to power sophisticated predictive analytics – everything from data modeling to machine learning and data mining – that can be used to interpret the data and make predictions about the future or otherwise unknown events.

We are moving towards an era where data is exploding from every application that we interact with and the emergence of constantly connected devices will accelerate this shift.

Wearable devices are rising in popularity and soon users will be able to run a business from their wrists as smart watches break into the mainstream. However, for a business to embrace wearables, they need to ensure that it adds value.

For those businesses that want to successfully adopt wearables within the enterprise, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive data strategy that can integrate the volume, variety and velocity of data that they produce with other data sources. Only then can this information be analysed to provide new insights and inform decisions.