Apple has promoted the Apple Watch primarily to consumers, but companies like Salesforce and its partners are moving quickly to bring out business applications for the device.
SAN FRANCISCO–The idea that you can get real work done on the tiny screen of a smartwatch may seem counterintuitive, but Salesforce just announced that 20 developer partners are bringing out apps for the Apple Watch designed to do just that.
To be clear, you can still get more done with equivalent apps on a smartphone or laptop, but from a convenience viewpoint, such as the ability to see important information at a glance on a smartphone, these new apps can also keep you productive while you are on the move.
At a media event here on August 11, three developer partners showed off new apps they’ve created for the Apple Watch using Salesforce Wear while Salesforce.com announced 20 new apps for Apple’s device.
“Applications are what are going to lay the foundation to make these devices more than gadgets,” said Lindsey Irvine, who heads up Salesforce’s wearable push. To that end, Irvine promoted the new apps as “real business tools that actually bring business-critical information and time-sensitive information right on the wrist and right in the field of view.”
The news comes at a time when Apple’s stock has taken a hit over investor concern that the Apple Watch isn’t turning out to be as big a hit as expected, although Apple notes that it has sold more units than it did of the iPad after its initial release.
Meanwhile, the business potential of smartwatches in general has barely been tapped. Irvine emphasized that although Salesforce is throwing initial support behind the Apple Watch (Salesforce was a featured partner at the wearable's launch), it plans to support other smartwatches and devices, including Google Glass and virtual reality gear from companies such as Facebook's Oculus unit.
As for the three apps on display at the event, they’re all designed to enhance productivity.
ClickSoftware previewed the Apple Watch version, due for release in about two weeks, of its Field Expert app, which it introduced on the Salesforce AppExchange two months ago.
Telcos and utilities are the top two industries ClickSoftware serves. Edwin Pahk, the company’s solution consulting team leader, showed off some of the features that service representatives—such as a solar panel repair technician—might use to get at-a-glance service-call status updates. Once the technician clicks on the watch to report the job is complete, the app automatically sends an alert to the next customer saying how soon the technician is likely to be there.
Much like a traveler using a ride-hailing service such as Uber, the Field Expert app lets the consumer see how far away the service van is and also sends a text to the technician.
TaskRay, the top-rated project management app in the Salesforce AppStore, showed a version of its namesake app for the Apple Watch. Eric Wu, cofounder of Bracket Labs, the company behind TaskRay, said the important aspect of project management is fulfillment—making sure various tasks are getting done.
In the Apple Watch app, a manager can see, for example, a list of overdue tasks, check their status and update them as they are completed by a simple tap on the watch—an entry that is synchronized with the company’s Salesforce cloud account. New tasks can also be added using a dictation feature.
“All the reporting features we’ve offered for the phone we’re getting to the watch in a really efficient manner,” said Wu.
David Schmaier, CEO of Vlocity, said his company is the first to offer industry-specific apps in the AppExchange for four industries—communications, insurance, health care and government. Now Vlocity is extending its reach by introducing its first wearable apps for the Apple Watch.
A demo of the Communications Industry app showed how it could be used in a sales call by someone waiting in a customer’s lobby for a meeting to start. Using just the Apple Watch, a sales representative can get an updated view of where the customer is in the sales process in terms of the status of its contract and other services that might be suitable for discussion.
At the end of the meeting, the sales manager can launch common tasks from the watch, such as sending the customer a bill summary or a customer satisfaction survey. Tasks are color-coded and customizable. While the app doesn’t perform the full task, a click on the appropriate term can generate a request to an administrator to get it done.
Salesforce will feature these and other wearable apps at the company's Dreamforce customer conference in San Francisco next month.