Do you think Apple Watch is a great fitness tracker, but not really an enterprise product?
I’d like to prove you wrong
I’ve been saying for years that Apple would need to ensure Apple Watch could exist independently of the iPhone.
There were several challenges to achieving this.
One was the need to find a modem sufficiently low-powered to run inside the watch without bleeding the battery dry.
Another was the need to find battery technologies that could handle robust use during the day.
Apple crossed the first hurdle when it introduced Apple Watch Series 3, which has its own built-in cellular connection.
The great thing about this – as at least one promotional video showed – is that it made it possible to make a call using your watch while your iPhone is left on the table at your office or home.
And you feel a little like some Dick Tracy meets the Jetsons meets an FBI agent when you talk into your sleeve to make those calls.
Of course, introduction of cellular support in Apple Watch doesn’t come free, and the operating system that runs the watch was still umbilically connected to the iPhone.
It still is.
But not for much longer
This even extends to an App Store on your wrist – you can search, browse, and install apps directly on the watch.
Developers – including enterprise developers – can visualize and then build watch-only apps.
This could be bespoke enterprise apps. For example, Vlocity Wear in 2015 introduced an app that would use the watch to beam relevant information to customer service agents that was relevant to an incoming request.
This is the personal nature of enterprise technology.
Enabling access to relevant information in small chunks in response to contextual situations detected by the device.
You see, these person-focused enhancements don’t just make the watch better for personal use. They also transform it into a flexible tool for enterprise deployments.
Enterprises are people, too
Many enterprises already provide Apple Watch to employees.
IBM provides watchOS apps for hospitals, law enforcement, public safety, and field service engineers.
We all saw the huge spike in interest that met the introduction of Apple Card.
It proved something more than the power of the Apple brand.
It proved that there is a huge pent-up market eager for hyper-personalized fintech products.
(That’s the same kind of interest Facebook wants to exploit with its digital currency, which history will call the “Facepalm,” given how cynical most of us have become about the service.)
Financial data is data, and the personal nature of digital payments is another space that will be explored.
Think what happens when enterprises figure out how to issue virtual Apple Card cards to employees with clearly defined payment parameters – you’ll be able to buy fuel, but not clothes, for example.
An end to some forms of fraud.
Why personal must be personal
New apps coming in watchOS 6 (particularly Cycle Tracking and Activity Trends and a future diabetes sensor) show the kind of insights that can be gleaned using computers on the wrist.
Apple’s focus on health and health sensors also means the device will deliver ever more accurate personal health data, with big implications to care.
Its application of CoreML, processor innovation and commitment to privacy means many of these insights are only ever identified by the device – not to be shared without your express permission.
Add location and Voice Control and what else becomes possible?
- Field service technicians receiving machine repair information via Siri on their Watch when they arrive at a location?
- Automated reporting for delivery, sales or maintenance crews?
- Perhaps even step-by-step direction to help hard-pressed hospital staff navigate internal maps in search of life-saving medical equipment tagged with Bluetooth beacons?
Apple Watch: A new frontier
With a voice-first user interface, an ever-extending feature set, and growing independence from the iPhone, Apple Watch is becoming another computer that’s all you require for some tasks — including enterprise tasks.
Apple Watch is not just a fitness tracker.
It is a context-sensitive business opportunity your enterprise should explore. And its growing independence amplifies that opportunity.