I am an unabashed gadget freak and when my Pebble Smartwatch Kickstarter order arrived last month, I was like a kid in a candy store. After setting it up and a week of wearing only short sleeves shirts to ensure everyone would see it (and undoubtedly ask about it), I started to wonder if this is the next wave of I.T. device consumerization. The short answer is no and maybe.
As it stands now the Pebble and other smart watches are just second screens for a smartphone. Aside from standard watch functions, they get all their smarts from a Bluetooth connection. Functionality is limited: I get caller ID, SMS, and some email headers. There is no calendar support or ability to interface with other apps on the phone. The Pebble is conversation piece and likely to see VERY limited traction within the workforce. For now, I.T. can ignore employee wrists as a place to worry about device management, security or compliance.
Smartwatches like Pebble’s long term promise lies in the platform. Apps like fitness tracking, golfing rangefinder, and to do lists are in the works by the developer community. This is when it gets interesting from an I.T. perspective.
Having users with smart interfaces always on their person is something I.T. should take notice. For example, I.T. workers could get alerts when servers crash. Think MyIT in mini mode. For retail, arming (pun intended) front-of-the-house employees with smart watches would simplify shift switching and inventory management. No more “clean up on aisle 5” announcements; just ping the closest employee via their watch and they can take care of the issue.
Basically, a Pebble will become a programmable pager/smartphone second display and with that comes some great potential in the workforce. As developers within I.T. and other teams build out internal apps, think about ways to make the information glanceable and actionable that would work on the smallest of screens.