The Google Glass relaunch grabbed headlines, but it’s business as usual for enterprise mobility

Remember when we feared another rush of BYOD and consumerization insanity? Breathe a sigh of relief—it’s business as usual!

Well, the big tech news yesterday (aside from the debut of GeekOut 365!) was the relaunch of Google Glass. This time around, it’s called Glass Enterprise Edition and it’s aimed squarely at businesses. The thing is, this isn’t a surprise to the enterprise mobility management space—it’s business as usual, which is great.

Here are my observations on the news:

First, the idea that Google Glass and similar devices are a better fit for enterprise verticals like manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare is self-evident now, but clearly it took a while to settle in—in fact, it came up organically from the customers.

When I saw all the headlines in general tech sites yesterday I wondered what the hubbub was, though to answer my own question, obviously “Remember all the old headlines about Glassholes? It turns out the devices found a home!” makes for a good story. However, it’s not as out-of-the-blue if you consider it in the context of Google’s recent enterprise push. For more on this, look back at coverage of Google Cloud Next ‘17 and remember that the SVP of Google Cloud is Diane Greene. Google Glass comes from X, a different division of Alphabet, but according to the official blog post, they’ll be collaborating with Google Cloud.

Second, this is an interesting case because it’s the opposite of the consumerization of IT. As a normal human being, I can agree that we’re still not ready for people to wear these things around in public. (The Glass Enterprise Edition it has a light that goes on during video recording.) But of course the business implications are huge. I get it—being able to access information and see a screen without moving either of your hands or even shifting your head has got to increase productivity a lot. Google mentioned gains and time savings ranging from 8 to 30% in different scenarios, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see even higher numbers.

Third, and most important for us, the good news is that these things are eminently manageable. Last year at AirWatch Connect, AirWatch 9.0 touted MDM for wearables; and yesterday they announced support for Glass Enterprise Edition. Another EMM vendor we follow that covers wearables is SOTI.

Finally, what’s interesting is that neither Google Glass nor Apple Watch nor any other any other wearable device has ended up causing anything near the same amount of mobility management fuss that we saw over iPhones, iPads, BYOD, and consumerization. Phones and tablets and apps helped break us out of the previous Windows-centric end user computing world, and that was a one-time event. Now that we’re getting comfortable with heterogeneous environments, from the management perspective, another device like Google Glass is ...well... just another device. This is good for the business because it means we can get out of their way.

(Postscript: As I was posting this article, I actually started to think about situations in my life where a heads-up display would be pretty cool, and assembling IKEA furniture and cooking from recipes came to mind immediately. So we’ll see what’s next for consumers!)

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