Apple Watch Portends Big Things for Wearables in the Enterprise
Apple’s formal debut of the much-touted Apple Watch this week set off a spate of speculation about the device’s suitability for the consumers. Is it fashionable enough? Is it cool enough? Is it better at handling tasks already consigned to my phone?
But industry watchers say casual buyers may be only part of the story, with a number of apps and uses cases emerging that indicate Apple Watch could be a major catalyst for wearable computing in the enterprise. As we’ve noted in the past, the wearables market is poised to skyrocket from 22 million devices shipped last year to nearly 135 million by 2018. Earlier this year, Lopez Research found that 38 percent of enterprise IT decision makers were interested in wearables. Most said they felt their organizations would deploy business-grade wearables in 12 to 18 months.
Apple rolled out its latest high-profile offering in typical grand fashion, showing off the $349 wearable at a “Spring Forward” media event on March 9. While most of the Apple Watch details have been known for some time, thanks to Apple’s slow-roll PR strategy, the coming-out party did add some meat to the bones including the base price, an aggressive estimate of 18-hour battery life, and the ultimate availability date of April 24.
Early reviews of the Apple Watch (yes, Cupertino ditched the anticipated iWatch moniker) indicate the new wearable strikes a good balance between design and function, something the competition has yet to fully iron out. That could bode well for the consumer segment, but it’s the business-class potential that makes Apple Watch much more interesting. In the still-nascent enterprise wearables market, the Apple Watch is being seen as precisely the kind of device that could push business use of wearables into the mainstream.
“I think clearly Apple Watch is going to be a transformational moment in the industry,” Michael Peachey, vice president of solutions and product marketing at Salesforce told TechCrunch. “Other vendors have tried it, but Apple is really cracking the code.”
In fact, Salesforce was first out of the gate with three new business apps purpose built for the Apple Watch. On the same day as Apple’s formal announcement, the vendor unveiled its Salesforce Wave for Apple Watch, a lightweight analytics application that delivers at-a-glance views of important information you want to be notified about. Also announced were Salesforce1 for Apple Watch which provides quick access to the entire range of Salesforce data including sales, service, marketing and employee community; and Salesforce Wear for Apple Watch, an SDK for building custom apps on the new Apple wearable.
“While consumers’ interest in wearables has grown strong, businesses’ demand for wearables is even greater,” Forrester analyst JP Gownder wrote in a research brief. “Today, 68 percent of global technology and business decision-makers say that wearables are a priority for their firm, with 51 percent calling it a moderate, high, or critical priority. This is comparable with the mobile landscape in 2010, when 43 percent of enterprises identified employees using mobile devices as a critical or high priority.”
Michael Guggemos, CIO at Insight Enterprises Inc. told the Wall Street Journal that wearables like the Apple Watch running business-grade applications could help improve sales efficiency as well as speed up communications among field services personnel. He expects employees to use their smartwatches to send voice messages straight to CRM systems system rather than entering data manually.
“If I can get that information back in a quick, audible format, that’s powerful,” Guggemos said.