Apple Watch Will Drive Wearables Into The Enterprise

Wearables are very likely going to have a role in the enterprise, and it could be sooner than you think, especially in light of today’s Apple Watch announcement.

If it takes off like previous i-devices, it could have broad implications for wearables in the enterprise. It stands to reason that just as the iPhone and iPad that came before it, the Apple Watch will begin to show up in the enterprise, very likely on the wrists of executives who will want to use it in conjunction with their i-life -and IT will have to figure out how it all comes together.

Eventually IT will need to develop apps too, just as it did for other mobile platforms and developers will have to learn to deal with the different screen size, says Sravish Sridhar, CEO of Kinvey, a mobile development platform. Sridhar believes it’s going to take a bigger leap than the phones and tablets that came before it.

“If businesses want to incorporate wearables like this into their workflows, it’s not just about accompanying a new screen. It’s a fundamentally new user interface and user experience (i.e,. no one is going to expect it to function like a phone/tablet). There are new inputs (force as well as touch), new inter-device communication modes, and new data points that phones have never been able to collect (e.g. heartbeat),” Sridhar wrote in an email.

These new ways of working have the potential at least to drive developer creativity, but Sridhar believes it’s going to take some time before they learn to truly take advantage of all the new device has to offer just as it did with earlier devices.

“I think the first wave of apps we see for the Watch will be really similar to what happened with the desktop-to-mobile shift. Just as, at first, companies tried to simply port desktops apps to mobile, early efforts with the Watch will be attempts at porting mobile functionality to the wrist. And just as the first wave of desktop apps ported to mobile were underwhelming and replaced by mobile-first applications, so will companies quickly realize that it isn’t just a new screen but a brand-new platform,” he explained.

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt today, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff told interviewer Michael Arrington he believes the wearables are going to be deeply integrated into the enterprise experience. He didn’t say when, but given his company has already announced Salesforce Wearables, he sees it as a near-term goal and one he seemed genuinely excited about.

Benioff could picture for instance, a service technicians wearing Google Glass being connected in real time to the service center. He of course wants a future of business wearables that runs through Salesforce.

Whether that happens remains to be seen, but as these devices trickle into the enterprise, it makes sense developers will use the older mobile paradigms for starters, then they will learn to use the device to access the features to do different things that make sense in the context of how the device works.

As before, we will very likely hear people dismiss the Apple Watch and similar devices as “toys,” but I’m willing to bet that these toys could have some serious enterprise utility as creative developers come up with ways to exploit them. When that happens, as always early adopters will have a competitive advantage.

The wearables are coming. The Apple Watch has a good chance of mainstreaming them. Better get ready.