Workplaces not ready for wearables: study

A new study has found that workplaces are far from ready for wearables, with less than half of North American businesses planning to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT).

This is according to research conducted by international IT governance association ISACA, which published a report entitled the 2014 IT Risk/Reward Barometer this month.  It detailed results from a survey of 1,646 ISACA members who are “IT and business professionals around the world, including 553 in North America,” according to the report.

Among key findings, only 40% of respondents in North America said their organization already had plans or will have plans within a year to make use of connected devices.

While these figures are not surprising, they are problematic, according to Robert Clyde, international vice president of ISACA.

“Given the rapid growth of IoT, I believe that 40% is too low,” he told CDN in an email. “Companies should take a much closer look at IoT and start formulating plans soon as there are now far more connected devices in the world than there are people.”

He added that Ericsson and Cisco project that by 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected.

What has seen an improvement is he prevalence of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies among North American businesses – 59% of respondents have a policy in place – which Clyde said is a “huge improvement” over previous years.  However, 83% of IT professionals perceive bringing wearables to work as just as risky if not more so than BYOD.

Related: Which wearable is right for your business?

“With the capabilities of wearable real-time video, audio, storage and texting, a person or company may have its private and confidential information sent to the cloud and/or exposed globally within seconds—and they may have no idea information was being captured,” said Clyde, indicating this is less of a case for smartphones and tablets.  “Many are not maintained by the IT group and do not have the proper protection that computers would be expected to have. And, with the massive increase of connected devices such as smoke detectors and thermostats, IT departments may not even be aware of all of the connected entry points into the company and that could be used as relay points from which to launch further attacks.”

Furthermore, there seems to be little that IT professionals are doing to address this.  According to the study, 50% of those with BYOD policies reported not addressing wearables.

The responsibility to maintain security doesn’t rest entirely with businesses, however.  Clyde says that wearable device makers need to adopt smartphone and tablet safety features such as remote wiping, alarm and encryption in case the device is lost and a “workplace-safe” mode that would indicate no recording is taking place to to exert control over when and where data is going.

Despite a pessimistic view towards IoT – less than a quarter of North American respondents said they are seeing benefits of IoT and less than half are banking on achieving any benefits at all – consumer adoption is nevertheless coming and likely to bring devices into the workplace.  According to the study, more than half of US consumers have connected devices on their wish list this holiday season.

“Since IoT is still new, enterprises’ skeptical views are pretty typical, but consumers are generally quicker on the uptake,” Clyde said. “Most technology moves start with consumers first and then move to the enterprise. Since the consumers are moving so fast, ISACA recommends that enterprises start making plans for IoT now.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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