Enterprise workers using SAP applications in their jobs could one day be able to get data into some of those applications by talking to an Apple Watch on their wrist instead of manually typing in data on a computer or mobile device.
That’s the idea behind some early beta testing that’s being done by some SAP customers and employees using custom Apple Watch apps that SAP developers are building to work with the company’s core business applications.
So far, the testing is in its first stages but is showing promise, and customers are already expressing interest in making SAP-compatible smartwatch apps available to their workers, Rick Costanzo, general manager of global mobility products and strategy at SAP, told eWEEK.
“My sense is it’s the next logical frontier” for helping enterprise workers get their work done by using apps on smartwatches, said Costanzo. “You take a look at it, and you say you have to architect your world to [everything] mobile.”
To work toward the goal of architecting SAP apps for smartwatch use in the workplace, the company’s developers initially built 12 apps for the Apple Watch that are currently in beta testing. The apps include SAP Wire, an SAP HANA Cloud Platform-based instant messaging app; SAP Mobile Documents, which lets users control slide presentations using an iPhone; SAP News, which lets users read corporate news briefs and pushes longer stories to an iPad or iPhone for easier reading; and Connected health, which lets users easily stay in touch with their health care providers, according to Costanzo.
Also undergoing tests are apps such as Fiori Cart Approval, which allows employees to accept or reject workflows or drill into decision-making processes without having to take their smartphones out of their pockets; Deal Approval, which allows approval or rejection of sales deals and passes them on to an iPhone for more in-depth reviews; Deal Room, a sales collaboration tool for messaging and documents on current sales deals; Cloud 4 Customer, which displays various graphs, top deals and other information; The Perfect Meeting, which helps manage customer interactions; Boardrooms Redefined, which helps users manage their business from their wrist; and SAP Office World Clock, which displays local times for various SAP office locations around the world. In addition, SAP has also built what it calls its first consumer app for the Apple Watch, called Trip It, which lets users keep their travel itinerary on their wrists for instant access.
The motivation for all of these apps is becoming clearer every day, said Costanzo, as more smartwatch wearers seek new ways to incorporate them into their work.
“It holds promise,” he said. “We think wearables will be important in B2B and B2C, as well.”
Some of the tasks that customers are already asking about for use in Apple Watch apps are warehouse product-picking apps, inventory apps, enterprise asset management apps and troubleshooting and diagnostic apps, said Costanzo. “The great thing about Apple Watch is it’s on your wrist and unobtrusive. The bad thing is the screen is small” and battery life is not long-lasting.
SAP’s experiments are continuing to see how the company’s developers can come up with innovative ways to help customers get their work completed, said Costanzo. “There is no doubt that wearables will have a place in the future. We absolutely believe that. Our apps should be able to work on whatever devices customers want to use them on, so we are seeing where that can be done.”
Much of SAP’s work will be further enabled by the coming changes in the Apple Watch platform, which will get an updated watchOS 2 operating system later this year that will allow the device to work with third-party apps and to have more independence with iPhones.
Due to the small screen size on the Watch, Costanzo said he thinks that more apps in the future will include wider voice command features to help users get away from having to use the small screen.
“With Apple Watch, you’re at the very beginning of a whole new [period] of innovation,” he said.
And though the focus of the first 12 apps is on the Apple Watch, Costanzo said the company has open platforms at its core and will also support Android and Windows smartwatches. “At end of the day, we want to allow customers to use our software on whatever devices they want to use it on. I think this space is going to evolve very quickly.”