There are skeptics aplenty about the Apple Watch, but Salesforce is certainly a believer. The enterprise cloud services giant was part of the Apple Watch launch and is promoting Salesforce Wear as a tool for developers to create apps for the device that also sync with the Salesforce Cloud. The company hosted a media event this week in San Francisco to talk about 20 new third-party watch apps and show off three of them.
Lindsey Irvine, who heads Salesforce’s wearables push, says it’s been far too difficult for developers to build apps for wearables.
“Companies that wanted to build wearable apps had to deal with different APIs, different form factors, and build a different app for each device,” Irvine told reporters. “It’s not what I’d call agile development. There is no scalable cloud development application platform that made it easy to build wearable apps across devices.”
Salesforce launched Salesforce Wear a year ago to address those issues and accelerate wearable adoption in the enterprise.
Irvine was also quick to note that while this initial group of apps is designed for the Apple Watch, Salesforce plans to support other wearables including smartwatches by other vendors, Google Glass and VR gadgets like the Oculus headset.
Three New Apps
ClickSoftware showed its FieldExpert app that gives field technicians and others in the field the ability to quickly review their schedule, update service requests and schedule additional services right on the Apple Watch. It also brings a level of “Uberization” to the customer experience, as using the app to note completion of a job can automatically alert the next customer as to the service reps likely time of arrival. Customers can also track the progress of the service vehicle and even text the driver.
The Vlocity Wear app gives sales reps and others at-a-glance access to customer profile data and the ability to initiate support activities by other team members – for example, having a new order or customer satisfaction survey sent to a client the rep has just visited. Tasks can be color coded to make them stand out on the small display.
“Sales reps often take copious notes and note tasks to be done, but they are often forgotten,” said Vlocity CEO David Schmaier. “We want to simplify common processes, like having a follow-up customer survey sent, that you can easily select on the watch and it syncs to the Salesforce cloud so the team knows to perform the request.”
This is nothing you couldn’t do on an iPhone or laptop, but think about a sales rep being able to quickly review the status of a customer’s account while waiting in the lobby for a meeting to start or, having just finished the meeting, being able to do some follow-up work that might otherwise have waited till he or she got back to the office with a few taps .
Schmaier also said it’s also going to be better for reps to glance at the Apple Watch to get information during a sales meeting because it’s more “socially acceptable” than burying your face in a laptop or even a smartphone screen.
He got some push-back on that from one media member who noted glancing at your watch is often considered to be a signal you are in a time crunch to leave, but perhaps the advent of smartwatches will lead to a more positive interpretation.
Bracket Labs showed the Apple Watch version of TaskRay, the top-rated project management app in the Salesforce AppStore. Eric Wu, Co-Founder of Bracket Labs, said the app provides an easy way to see what tasks are completed or still need work and update that information as tasks are completed.
A simple tap syncs back to the company’s Salesforce cloud account updating the status for others. You can also use a dictation feature to add new tasks.
Will companies buy the Apple Watch?
While the iPad’s initial success in the enterprise helped promote the BYOD movement, Salesforce’s Irvine said she thinks companies will be ready to buy smartwatches and other wearables for employees over time.
“The customers we’ve talked to are excited,” she said, “but they need to see the applications providing the value on the device. That’s been our focus.”