Wearable technology is already a multimillion-pound global industry. If CES 2015 was anything to go by, there could be a real boom.
It isn't all about checking Facebook notifications on your watch while you're out and about. Increased output and improved efficiencies are justification for enterprises to include wearables in their BYOD plans.
In fact, since May last year, the number of companies that have said they will include wearables in their BYOD plan has increased, according to Tech Pro Research.
As wearables start to enter the workplace through watches and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, they will certainly become an increased consideration for the enterprise. This is part of an overall move towards BYOD becoming the norm, particularly for the SMB market.
As a consequence, businesses are discovering that private branch exchange (PBX) telephone systems no longer support the applications that mobile-first employees want to use.
The momentum towards supporting a truly agnostic BYOD environment is almost a reality in some parts of Europe, thanks to operators in the Nordic region. They have effectively replaced the PBX by making it just another app on a user's phone.
Firms still have access to the features of a full PBX system – such as allowing more than one person to be reached from a single number, voicemail, faxing, automated greetings, conference calling, and sending phone calls to the first available person in a department – without the high costs associated with the purchase of on-premise PBX equipment.
This is a major factor in the decline of on-site PBX across Europe, alongside the continued spread of BYOD through organisations.
However, many companies we have surveyed say they have not yet created an environment that supports BYOD, and their reasons include cost.
This doesn't ring true, as one of the claimed benefits of cloud is enabling enterprises to manage a single communication service subscription for their employees, which ultimately drives down telecommunications costs and management complexities.
Gartner has said that many companies may stop providing devices to their staff as soon as 2016. This will reduce cost as well.
BYOD also permits smaller companies to go mobile without the potentially colossal device and service investment.
More firms are now faced with complex choices regarding what they will allow to connect and integrate with their IT environments, not to mention how they will get business value out of these external devices. Fast, efficient communication is often the goal.
If employees are bringing their own gadgets into the workplace, why shouldn't they be able to use them for work purposes? If they can pick up messages more quickly on their watch while on the go, they should be allowed to do so.
By building a more flexible, cloud infrastructure, customers can prepare for the growth of BYOD, becoming more agile and improving working practices. By unifying communications, employees are always connected, whether on-site or on the go.
The emergence of wearables has only increased the need for firms to consider cloud and BYOD. A new working world is coming and we all need to be ready.
Mike Wilkinson is vice president of market offers at Broadsoft
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