Enterprise Smartwatch Makers Must Shore Up Security: Analysts

by Sohini Bagchi    May 08, 2017


The rising adoption of smartphones across the globe and the rising use of internet are expected to contribute substantially towards the development of the global smartwatch market in the coming years. As a result, the market is projected to register a progressive growth rate over the forecast period. However, as these devices are already being used at the workplace, offering a host of benefits to the enterprise, these often put sensitive information at risk.

ABI Research forecasts enterprise smartwatch shipments will reach nearly 14 million in 2022, increasing from just more than two million in 2017. Yet, for these devices to infiltrate the workplace, vendors must address security device management and compliance at the design level. [Read the full report here]

While most wearable device manufacturers are focusing on innovations and the expansion of their presence across the globe, very few have enterprise-grade authentication integrated out of the box, which makes them incredibly susceptible to security breaches,” says Stephanie Lawrence, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “This puts sensitive information, such as an individual’s healthcare records or financial information, at risk.”

CIOs believe that with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and the mix of devices entering the workplace on the rise, potential breaches are harder to avoid. Addressable solutions include Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), Mobile App Management (MAM), and Mobile Device Management (MDM). These solutions enable enterprises to automate the connectivity and management of devices on the corporate network.

Read more: Why Smart Wearables Need To Smarten Up In 2017

Meanwhile, the wearables market is surging and the enterprise is jumping head on to the new devices. As Strategy Analytics showed Apple grabbed a 15.9 percent share of the wearables market in the first quarter. The analyst firm showed a 59 percent jump in sales from a year earlier, with 3.5 million units sold in the first three months of the year. [Read the full report here]

On the other hand, Fitbit has lost its wearables leadership to Apple, slipping to third place on a 36 percent slide in sales due to slowing demand for its fitness bands and a late entry to the emerging smartwatch market,” said Strategy Analytics researcher Cliff Raskind. Nonetheless, there are reports that Fitbit is entering the smartwatch market for good. 

The survey found that China’s Xiaomi, which makes a budget-priced fitness band, was the second-largest vendor with a 15.5 percent global market share, ahead of Fitbit’s 13.2 percent. Overall, sales of wearables rose 21 percent from a year earlier to 22 million units, led by stronger demand for new smartwatch models. 

“Enterprises interested in adopting smartwatches for use in the workforce must be aware of potential security issues to effectively mitigate them,” continues Lawrence. “The strategic implementation of security platforms will allow employers to maximize the benefit of an enterprise smartwatch procurement without the worry of sensitive data reaching the wrong hands.”

Read more: Six Smart Wearables For Your Workplace

Of course, companies such as Apple, IBM, Kony, Samsung, and SAP frequently provide such solutions to interested organizations. Samsung recently worked with communications platform Total Communicator Solutions to provide an EMM solution for smartwatches in the San Diego Airport with the intent to improve employee communication.

“The introduction and availability of Android Wear 2.0 activates the potential of eSIM, supports the development of hybrid watch designs, and taps into the promise of standalone, wearable devices,” concludes Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “In a recent survey conducted by ABI Research, 55% of respondents stated that wearables, such as head-worn and wrist-worn devices, are part of their companies’ innovation strategies.”