The Chancellor George Osborne was spotted recently wearing a bio-monitoring wristband, suggesting wearable tech really has gone mainstream. Despite it being a useful and efficient product, it is limited when compared to the capabilities that such devices will have in only five or ten years’ time.
Google Glass, Google’s interactive spectacles, has the potential to provoke extraordinary changes in the way that we do business, and the changes that will be required to take advantage of its capabilities.
The technology isn’t just a new way of carrying a screen and viewing data; it represents a whole new way of blending the physical and digital worlds, and companies will have to adapt to that, whether it is in the context of their customers, their assets & equipment, their employees, or partners.
The internet of things
Enterprise computing experts have been talking for years about the internet of things and, increasingly, about the internet of everything. Both ideas predict an explosion in data, and all the challenges and opportunities that that entails.
While the internet will never actually connect with everything (do we understand the ways in which an internet-connected toaster would be better than the normal sort?), wearable technology is almost certain to result in a similar exponential data rise. An internet of wearable gadgets may have as much impact as any hypothetical internet of everything.
Data is not enough
And yet, those who concentrate entirely upon the data per se are incorrect in doing so. Of course, the digital economy is built on data, but that’s only half the story. After all, data that is simply stored is all but useless, and even data analysed only yields more data. It is not until that analysis is used, shared, collaborated over and acted upon that it then becomes worth the effort involved in collecting it in the first place.
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Analytics engines, for a start, are going to have to become much better at coping with unstructured data. With voice input, and contextual monitoring (for example, bio-monitoring devices that change their computing protocols when they sense the user is sleeping), back-end processing must be able to handle unstructured input as a matter of course.
Like analytics programmes, data centres and IT infrastructure have basically had patches applied over the last few years, barely keeping pace with the demands placed on them – but wearable technology will mean radical developments.
Automated tiering will be essential for making sure that information is available with the minimum possible latency, while innovations like flash and in-memory storage will assist in boosting the availability of information. Furthermore, automated analytics programmes are likely to mean an increase in demands on the archive layer, and that may potentially spell the end for tape as a storage medium.
In parallel, we will rely on every improving connectivity to deliver actionable insights to decision makers at the point of action, often in real time or just-in-time. Social platforms that are attractive, usable and powerful, may contribute to the collaborative value of these insights. All of this will happen in a device independent manner and may well be delivered to a wearable screen or interface.
Whether companies are looking to provide services to customers using wearable technology, or to use wearable technology to increase the efficiency of their own operations, they will not do so successfully without a paying proper attention to the backend technology.
After all, wearable technology is about immediacy and availability – but those qualities cannot
be provided without a proper level of support at the infrastructure level.
Ved Sen, is senior director, mobile solutions Europe at Cognizant Technology Solutions
This was first published in September 2013