SAP's Putting a Young Apple Watch to Work

IBM and Salesforce aren't the only IT heavyweights bullish on Apple Watch. German software giant SAP is also wading into wearables.

Much like smartphones and tablets before them, wearables are the next hot technology expected to take over the enterprise – apart from the Internet of Things, that is.

Apple Watch, the Cupertino, Calif. device maker's first stab at a smartwatch, was released in April. Seeing an opportunity to extend their enterprise mobility initiatives to wearables, both IBM and Salesforce quickly went to work incorporating the wearable into their respective ecosystems.

SAP, too, has been eyeing Apple's smartwatch, according to Josh Waddell, vice president of SAP's Mobile Innovation Center. Waddell is part of a small team within the software maker's workforce of 75,000 employees that is "tasked with working with our customers to identify emerging trends in technology," he told Datamation.

One of those trends is wearables in the workplace, or more specifically, turning smartwatches and other wearables into a productivity-enhancing part of a user's workflows.

Early Days Still

"We currently have nine Apple Watch apps," said Waddell. The TripIt travel companion app is already commercially available. Several other candidates for release were recently demoed at the company's Sapphire Now conference.

In the meantime, Waddel's team is following Apple Watch's progress. First impressions: It's a lot like the first iPhone.

Apple Watch is very much "a version 1.0 product, not unlike a lot of things they've done," Waddell said. "Remember, it was a year before they had apps on the [original] iPhone. That said, we see a lot of promise."

Unlike past out-of-the-gate successes, Apple has been tightlipped about the Watch's performance at retail. Citing competitive reasons, the company did not disclose sales of the smartwatch during in its Q3 2015 financial results. Juniper Research estimates that Apple sold 2 million to 2.5 million Watches last quarter.

While those figures pale in comparison to the 47.5 million iPhones the company sold in Q3, Apple Watch mere presence marks a turning point for enterprise mobility.

"The launch of the Apple Watch has solidified the market," Waddell said. Apple's smartwatch is "a direction that customers are asking to explore." Noting that his team has "dabbed" in Android Wear, most of the early demand for wearable apps from SAP is focused on Apple's smartwatch, he said. SAP itself "probably one of the largest deployments that exist in an enterprise setting," he added.

A Smarter Watch

Rather than turn a smartwatch into a wrist-worn notifications hub, SAP is exploring ways to enhance interactions and work tasks in an unobtrusive, yet genuinely helpful manner. The Apple Watch "seems ideally suited to dealing with enterprise interaction moments that need to be quick and thoughtful," said Waddell.

Certainly, alerts and other notifications will continue to be a vital part of the wearables experience. But SAP's approach is cemented in the notion that wearable apps should help drive work and decision-making processes.

One of SAP's strongest candidate for release – and Waddell's favorite -- is The Perfect Meeting. The app pulls in information about attendees and is meant to help presenters better manage their time and stay on track for successful meetings, said Waddell. "It's designed not to keep a CRM [customer relationship management system] up to date, it's designed to help you sell better," he said.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.




Tags: Apple, SAP, wearables


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