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How will wearables impact privacy in the enterprise?

How will wearables impact privacy in the enterprise?

A recently published study by UK mobile app developer Apadmi suggests UKers are deeply concerned about the privacy implications of wearable IP-connected technology in the workplace.

The study, which surveyed 500 adults living and working in the UK, found that 42 per cent of people in the UK thought that wearable technology posed a risk to their privacy, with only 18 per cent of respondents saying they didn’t feel it was a danger.

But there seemed to be a significant portion of respondents (40 per cent) that did not know whether wearable tech would pose a threat to their privacy.

“It’s obvious from our investigations that privacy is a very real issue for the wearable technology industry, although it’s by no means insurmountable,” said Nick Black, co-founder and director at Apadmi

“A lot of commentators are flagging up the potential privacy implications of devices that can record and relay so much data about an individual. And consumers appear to be taking note, with quite a few admitting that these concerns weigh on their mind when considering whether or not to buy wearable technology.”

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Wearables have started to gain favour with some larger enterprises in the US and UK, particularly when it comes to tracking health and fitness. Some private health insurers for instance monitor fitness data as a way to incentivise fitness activity, which reduces the risk of health issues and can lead to lower premiums.

But opinion on the privacy implications of mandating wearables in the workplace seems to be quite strong. When asked how they would feel if their employer required them to use wearable technology as part of their role 25 per cent of respondents said they would consider changing jobs, and a further 24 per cent replied they would be happy to do this.

“We also need to draw attention to the fact that a huge number of people still don’t have a firm grasp of how wearable technology might impact upon privacy in the first place, as demonstrated by the significant number of ‘don’t know’ respondents in our survey. People are naturally apprehensive about what they don’t understand. But it’s interesting that those who go on to purchase a device are overwhelmingly happy with their decision and the benefits it has brought to their lives,” Black explained.

“With this in mind, wearable tech businesses and app developers need to educate prospective customers around privacy concerns to alleviate these fears. Many people still don’t fully understand the privacy issues around wearable technology or appreciate its potential to dramatically improve lives in areas such as health and social care.”

Despite the potential privacy implications many believe use of wearables in the enterprise will rapidly increase over the next few years. Salesforce for instance claims use of wearables in the enterprise will more than triple in the next two years, with smartwatches emerging as a popular candidate to deliver sales and customer service improvements.

The company’s own survey of over 1,400 working adults shows 79 per cent of adopters agree wearables will be strategic to their company’s future success; 76 per cent report improvements in business performance since deploying wearables in the enterprise; and 86 per cent of adopters’ organisations plan to increase their wearables spend over the next 12 months.

 

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