Will the Apple Watch Find a Place in Business?
Now that the Apple Watch has been released, here’s the billion – and more likely multibillion-dollar question: will it find a place in business?
If you read the press around this question, the answer seems to be an unequivocal “Yes!” If you read why, though, the dominant reason given is because no one had imagined that either the iPhone or the iPad would be useful in business when they first came out and look at how they turned out! In fact there is a famous story where even Apple was surprised to learn that one of the business uses of the iPad was by commercial airline pilots who replaced their bulky in-flight manuals with iPads. This was completely unexpected and just goes to show what may be possible with human ingenuity. So too with the Apple Watch. The consensus seems to be that it too will follow the path laid down by the iPhone and iPad to become a new valuable business tool.
But here’s the problem. The Apple Watch has a really small screen and so you have to wonder how much useful information can be displayed in such small real estate. And if the watch only works with a synced iPhone that you have to carry with you wouldn’t it be better to show any information or alerts on the device with the larger screen? The Apple Watch’s small screen certainly does make it difficult to imagine that the device will find widespread use in business.
Here’s my perspective, working at Kenandy, an ERP software company. ERP has been such a game changer in terms of driving business efficiency because it arms decision makers with information. Every technology iteration from the mainframe to client-server to the widespread use of desktop and laptop computers and now the cloud has only served to make ERP more useful because it enables more people in an organization to get the information they need to make better decisions. But the important insight is that most decision makers track only a few key metrics that are most important to them at any one time. For example, a sales leader tracks the number of closed opportunities vs. forecast. A manufacturing operations head tracks units produced. A marketing leader tracks the state of her pipeline. If you view enterprise information through this lens, then you quickly see that the Apple Watch can become an ideal place to display and create workflows around the metric that is most important to that person given his or her role. Another way to look at this is when Apple calls the watch their “most personal device ever,” this will, I believe, apply in business as well with very specific information tailored to each individual being provided on each person’s device.
However, how exactly the Apple Watch will impact business remains to be seen. Here at Kenandy, though, our own view is we are very excited about this new device as we think through the new possibilities we can bring to our customers to help them run their businesses better.