The success of the Apple Watch will depend on the utility it brings to users — from fitness tracking to calendar apps to telling time. But what about the applicability for businesses and the workplace?
Apple is bringing us an entirely new interface — a supercomputer attached to our wrist that is like a second computer monitor for our iPhones. Nir Eyal, author of the bestselling book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, explains how big an impact this could have:
Whenever the interface changes, meaning, whenever the way we receive and provide data undergoes a big shift, the habit deck gets reshuffled. User behaviors must be ported onto the new interface and many times industry incumbents can't make the shift. If the watch interface goes mainstream, it will open-up huge opportunities in both consumer and enterprise applications.
Apps that thrive in the enterprise are ones that help professionals do their job more efficiently, be better informed, close more deals, or stay on top of key activities. Howard Lindzon, founder of Stocktwits and Partner at Social Leverage, is convinced that the Apple Watch will be a huge success:
It'll be one of the first true success stories where fashion meets tech. We don't know which apps will work, but users will figure out a set of notifications that matter. Imagine how cool it'll be for analysts to get deal notifications and portfolio news on their wrist - this could have a huge impact on personal and corporate efficiency.
There are two broad categories of Watch apps for use in business: Communication & Coordination Apps, which mainly serve as notification centers, and Tracking & Workflow Apps, which allow users to take certain actions.
Follow our list of Enterprise Watch Apps to stay updated on companies developing Apple Watch apps for the enterprise.
Communication & Coordination Apps
These apps enable users to see various dashboards and tracking reports so that they can coordinate their daily schedule and activities from their wrists. Here are examples of some of the earliest apps, which lend themselves to quick glances and touches from the notification center.
TigerText’s app allows colleagues to securely send and receive messages. The app enables users to read, preview, dictate, and send messages — while also notifying users when a message has been sent, delivered, and read. TigerText is touting the app’s security settings, highlighting its ability to send compliant protected health information (PHI) and other confidential information.
Shoretel’s app gives users the ability to answer, reject, or redial enterprise calls, as well as join conference calls without additional steps like bridging or authentication. Users can also customize notifications to only allow certain calls from certain people at certain times.
DataFox’s company intelligence and communications app delivers deal-related updates from your colleagues, for example when a deal is closed or if important information relating to a deal is uncovered. DataFox's app limits notifications to @messages and insights from your colleagues about the companies you track. You’ll see messages from colleagues whenever they @message you or flag a company you follow.
Learn more about the DataFox Watch App here.
Mayo Clinic Synthesis’ app powers doctors to manage their daily schedules and alert them when patients are waiting or colleagues need their attention. The app also provides basic patient information like age, sex, and weight.
Some of the world’s most renowned corporations are closely watching the impact that Watch notifications and therefore faster communications will have in even the most advanced workplaces. Martina Cheung, Chief Strategy Officer at McGraw Hill Financial, a publicly traded information and analytics company thinks finance professionals could even be amongst the first wave of adopters:
Wearable technology represents the next generation of mobile hardware that will facilitate the delivery of real-time information and we expect capital markets professionals to be among the early adopters of this new technology.
Tracking & Workflow Apps
Workflow apps help professionals complete their daily tasks more efficiently, whether they are checking off to-do’s in Evernote or geo-tracking their time with Invoice2go:
BetterWorks’ app brings goal setting and employee review to users’ wrists. The Watch app fits into BetterWorks’ value proposition of taking big, complex projects and breaking them into manageable parts while tracking the performance of employees for their respective tasks. The app will be especially useful for managers that need a quick snapshot of the status of current goals and quick check-ins with employees.
SalesForce’s app will include dashboards from SalesForce Analytics Cloud (available April 2015) and SalesForce1 (available Fall 2015), allowing users to view dashboards and use Siri to search for reports. From the SalesForce app, sales managers will be able to approve discounted rates to help close deals.
Invoice2go’s app helps users remember when they started and stopped a task or project. The app is equipped with geofencing technology to notify users of likely tasks when they are in certain locations. The app makes tracking as easy as a stopwatch by enabling users tap buttons to measure times on certain tasks.
Evernote’s app lets users view recent notes, as well as use voice commands to create and search for new notes. Users can also dictate reminders and check off to-do lists on the fly. The Evernote Watch app complements the web and mobile app by enabling users to start reading a note in the Watch app and continue reading on their phones by swiping the lock screen.
WorkFlow's app allows users to connect their favorite apps and services, enabling users to perform a wide range of tasks including sending e-mails, reading articles, saving info to Dropbox, creating reminders, and tracking expenses. The app also includes a panel to transfer actions to your iPhone.
The Rise Of Notifications
One driving force behind the adoption of novel technology like the Apple Watch within the workplace is the trend of the “consumerization of the enterprise.” Leo Polovets, angel investor and Partner at Susa Ventures, exclaims:
The Apple Watch will accelerate that trend as app makers capitalize on the ability to surface rich, relevant information unobtrusively. It's rude to check your phone in the middle of a sales meeting, but it's very easy to steal a casual glance at your wristwatch and see a relevant note that helps you close the sale. I think many business apps will take advantage of being able to push information and ask for feedback in a lightweight, frictionless, and courteous manner.
While the Apple Watch will by no means replace the laptop or phone, a new class of applications will emerge, leveraging the Watch’s unique properties of being readily accessible and conducive to notifications and quick glances. Such apps that can provide novel approaches to accomplishing normal business tasks (such as urgent communication with colleagues, gathering information or recording learnings on-the-go) will be most successful in the enterprise where users will have a high bar for quality/noise and a focus on convenience.