With the popularity of wearable devices on the rise, perhaps the most common current use in large companies is HR departments handing out wearable fitness devices like the FitBit, Jawbone UP or high-tech pedometers to promote physical activity, offering rewards ranging from bragging rights to health insurance discounts and free memberships to athletic clubs.
SearchCIO wanted to know how #CIOChat participants feel about this use of wearable fitness devices in the enterprise, and whether it is important to experiment with existing devices in order to test policies and learn about privacy concerns before they build their own, company-specific wearables, and what privacy concerns might hold them back. We asked our Twitter followers, "Can enterprise organizations leverage existing wearables (i.e., FitBit) to boost employee morale or gamification?"
According to tweet jam participants, a little competition never hurt nobody:
Bragging rights and small prizes are -- in most cases -- enough to boost workplace morale and even promote better communication among employees. Our #CIOChat-ters weighed in on the power of wearables and offering incentives:
Like smartphones and tablets, newfangled wearable devices open up organizations to big data and security challenges. Some #CIOChat participants felt wearable use in the enterprise could indeed increase workplace positivity but had concerns when it came to legality and policy setting:
#CIOChat A4. Absolutely a great idea, how much does legal need to be involved?— Crick Nelson (@CrickNelson) January 29, 2014
New technology always comes with a certain amount of resistance and uncertainty. If an employee receives a company-issued wearable device to track fitness goals, where should IT draw the line between analyzing this personal data for gamification purposes and using it to make judgments on employee activities (or lack thereof) outside of the office as it might relate to their workplace productivity? Organizations will walk a fine line:
Things could get a little crazy and Big Brother-y around here:
What's next, employers telling employees to eat their vegetables? #CIOchat— Frank Scavo (@fscavo) January 29, 2014
If employees are worried that company executives will frown on inactivity, all they'd have to do is shake that pedometer in their hand for a few minutes each night -- who's going to know? Enterprises looking to reward wearable device users, beware: Not every employee will be psyched about imposed incentive programs:
@fscavo For OHS purposes, researchers are using this data to combat fatigue in high risk occupations, which IMO is a situation to use it— Katan Patel (@KatanSAPDevelop) January 29, 2014
For more #CIOChat recaps or to learn about our next chat, follow @SearchCIO on Twitter. We would like to thank this month's tweet jam expert Simon Jones, managing director at OnPR, a technology public relations and analyst firm, and a blogger at WearableTechWatch, for joining us and responding to participants' tweets.