On the go

That all-important bit more direct in the processes

With the Apple Watch, wearables are forcing their way into companies. The spectrum of potential business applications is broad. However, the small screen is a major challenge, and not only when it comes to usability.

Daniel Meierhans

“Our most personal technology!” That’s how Apple advertises the watch, thus getting right to the heart of the smart watch: it is a constant companion that is literally always to hand. And it is precisely this that also makes it attractive for business use. With the watch, a tool is available that makes interacting with employees much more direct and reliable as it is not left in a pocket or on their desk. And, with the clever watch, employees can also act immediately in almost any situation without first having to fish a device out of their trousers.


Watch makes wearables a mass phenomenon

According to an international study by the American mobile-computing specialist MobileIron, the majority will do exactly that. 95 per cent of private wearables buyers plan to use them for business purposes as well. And what they want – as smartphone experience has taught us – they will do, with or without the blessing of their employers. Companies should therefore look into the possibilities of smart watches as soon as possible.


Even more so as wearables become a mass phenomenon thanks to the Apple Watch. Based on forecast global sales figures of 10–30 million items, it can be assumed that up to 300,000 Swiss persons will digitally equip their wrists by Christmas. In the longer term, the potential lies at around 1 million smart watch users. Therefore, with watch apps, you can secure access to a quarter of the active population.

“The greatest challenge here is the small screen. The apps need to be adapted precisely to the needs of the users.”

The Swiss know the Swiss better

This makes the clever timepieces interesting not only for customer interactions, in which providers can get very close to their customers – employees can be integrated just as directly into the processes via watch. The greatest challenge here is the small screen. The apps need to be adapted precisely to the needs of the users. Every superfluous function and every additional step has a direct impact in the form of lower usage rates. However, this very factor offers Swiss companies a major opportunity. They are completely familiar with local preferences and habits and can therefore design their apps much more intuitively.


Generally speaking, due to the small space on the “clock face”, action is the key: the focus should be on direct action triggers and notifications. Managers can be alerted immediately in case of need, messages delivered to recipients even in situations that require a certain amount of discretion and employees deployed promptly and reliably.


Master key, guide and gesture control

By means of an app, the personal companion can also be transformed into a master key that can be used not only to open doors and implement user-friendly access restrictions to rooms, machines or computer systems. All types of payment transactions and checkpoint controls can be performed just as efficiently via watch. In addition, times and services in a service environment can be recorded with little effort using the watch.


One great advantage of the watch: hands are free for other tasks. For example, Apple uses what is known as the Haptic Engine, which gently taps the wrist in connection with a card service for left-right instructions. Warehouse employees or freight forwarders can be directed to the destination in the same way.


However, the other sensors and actuators also open up innovative fields of application. For example, gesture control can be implemented for machines or devices by means of acceleration sensors or voice controls realised using Siri. Control via the crown and the screen, which can react differently to varying degrees of pressure, provides additional room for creative solutions.


The faster the better

In addition to all these options, there is a marketing aspect that should not be underestimated: companies that use smart watches are viewed as innovative by both their customers and the employees. But this isn’t the only reason that it is worthwhile for companies to launch watch apps as quickly as possible. The small screen means even greater competition between the apps. The later you wait to bring an application to the wrist, the greater the crowding-out struggle will be.


Seizing opportunities

The Apple Watch opens up any number of new possibilities for companies. Find out how Swiss companies in particular can seize those opportunities, what they need to bear in mind and which first steps they need to implement as soon as possible:

The Apple Watch as a motor for digitisation