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WYOD: The little brother of BYOD and it's here to stay

Anyone interested in technology will know that the mobile boom has brought with it new considerations for businesses in the form or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

Despite still being a concept that many companies are yet to fully grasp, it is about to be overtaken by a new mobile trend.

WYOD (Wear Your Own Device) its hot on its heels, as wearables and smartwatches continue to gain traction.

To shed some light on the growth of WYOD and what businesses need to do to stay ahead of the curve, I spoke to Paula Skokowski from mobile file sharing provider Accellion.

The full interview can be found below:

  1. Overview of Paula's background

Paula Skokowski has worked at the forefront of the Internet of Things and is an expert on intelligent devices.

Paula began her career as a robotics engineer working on vision guided high-speed robot applications for companies including Ford and Motorola.

An expert on intelligent devices and mobile security, her work at Accellion is focused on securing enterprise content across smartphones, tablets and the latest generation of intelligent devices like wearables.

  1. BYOD and WYOD: Are they one and the same or should they be considered separately?

Employees bringing their own smartphones into the workplace started the BYOD trend requiring enterprises to deal with the serious security implications that come from these devices.

The decision for employees to wear their own device (WYOD) poses similar problems for IT departments, as employees use these devices, sometimes discretely, to access and share business content.

This puts corporate data at risk, and reinforces the need for IT managers to focus on securing the content, rather than the device that’s in use. Wearable devices simply add another level of access and security concern to what we’ve already seen with the BYOD trend.

  1. What are the key risks of WYOD?

As with all security risks, being prepared for the unpredictable is vital in minimising threats to IT.

We’re expecting a surge in demand from workers wishing to use wearables in the workplace, but a recent study that Accellion undertook with researchers Vanson Bourne revealed that enterprises aren’t ready to tackle the security risks of WYOD.

In questioning decision makers from organisations with more than 1,000 employees, 77 per cent of them didn't include wearable technology as part of their broader mobile security strategic planning. Wearables are coming to the workplace, and enterprises need to start preparing today so they are not caught off-guard.

  1. How can WYOD help businesses?

Utilising mobile devices, including wearables enhances productivity in a variety of industries - from the surgeon using Google Glass to access a patient’s vital information, to the worker navigating a vast warehouse using a head display to indicate what items to pick out.

The convenience and usability of wearable technology allows quicker response time and empowers mobile workers in any industry to access the content they need, in real-time, wherever their location.

  1. What issues do businesses run into when trying to develop BYOD policies?

Businesses are struggling to deliver the flexibility and speed necessary to keep up with BYOD trends.

A lot has been made of the devices, be it tablets or smartphones, but focusing on the device neglects what’s really important; the content. In most instances businesses don’t own the device, and security breaches occur when sensitive content falls into the wrong hands.

Securing content through a private cloud means data is protected, no matter if an employee laptop is left on the train, or phone or tablet is misplaced.

In a BYOD world, the cost to business is not a lost device, since the device is owned by the employee, the true cost to business is loss of enterprise content, and this is often overlooked by BYOD policies.

  1. What type of devices do you think will become most useful to businesses? Smart glasses/smart watches/trackers?

Watches, trackers and smart glasses all have their place in different environments across industries. While Google Glass is perhaps best suited to workers who need to work hands-free such as healthcare workers, smart watches have real potential to make a broad impact for remote workers.

Being able to receive notifications, share and sign off documents and communicate with colleagues all by using a watch can transform business productivity.

We’re also seeing navigational trackers helping warehouse workers navigate vast environments – helping to drive efficiency and save time in locating goods and services.

  1. Many businesses are still struggling to come to terms with BYOD, is it too soon to be talking about WYOD?

IT teams always need to be one step ahead of the trends. While this doesn't mean that IT needs to camp out overnight at the Apple store to be the first to get their hands on the latest devices, it does mean that IT needs to anticipate what devices will be coming into the workplace and how to keep enterprise security intact.

According to a global forecast by CCS Insight, wearable device shipments are expected to grow to 135 million in 2018. The age of WYOD is here, and IT needs to include these devices into their current security strategies to make sure that any corporate data accessed on these devices is secure.

Wearable devices are promising users easy access and connectivity to applications and data on smartphones, which could include enterprise information.

  1. Does anyone stand a chance against the Apple Watch?

The iPad kick-started mass demand for tablets both in the home and in the workplace, and next month’s anticipated arrival of the Apple Watch has the potential to do the same.

Going back only 10 years, personal technology lagged behind office IT, in terms of purchasing power. Now with the consumerisation of IT, employees prefer to purchase and use their own devices, due in part to an emotional attachment that we have with our products, and also because today personal technology can often exceed corporate IT’s capabilities.

It will be interesting to witness the public demand for the Apple Watch, and how the growing smart watch market reacts.

  1. What do you think the future holds for Google Glass?

Google Glass is a revolutionary technology that is perhaps best suited for the enterprise, rather than for consumer use.

For example, healthcare organisations welcome the ability that doctors now can view patient information, read scans and examine patients without stopping to check a screen or manually search through notes.

Public consumer adoption of Google Glass has hit well-documented stumbling blocks, with concerns over the fact that it’s physically obtrusive and potentially invasive of personal privacy, but the enterprise is where Glass can excel.

With the investment that Google is putting behind the project, Google Glass and other competitive head displays could someday make tablets and smartphones redundant for medical and remote field workers, fundamentally changing the way we interact with technology in the workplace.

  1. What future trends can we expect to see in the BYOD/WYOD space?

Wearable devices are both input and output devices that can not only display information to the user but also have the potential to capture vast amounts of data that the user maybe unaware of including location, video, images and temperatures.

This could lead to organisations being able to infer information about employees, which would make businesses very nervous about the security of the data being collected via wearable devices.

These are issues that go beyond phones and tablets. By 2018 a high percentage of wearable devices are going to be inconspicuous, and it won’t be obvious what data is being captured or displayed on this new class of devices.

This is why focusing on the security of content remains key for enterprises. As organisations work to embrace the devices that employees wish to use, it’s more important then ever for IT to make enterprise content secure and available via the cloud.

Private cloud solutions that enable organisations to own the encryption keys, and track all content access and sharing are essential and enable IT managers to sleep a little easier, knowing that measures are in place to protect and assure the security of corporate content.