Linus Pauling winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (vitamin C) and Peace (no nukes) once said if you want to have good ideas, you have to have lots of ideas. Simply put he meant every idea wouldn’t be a home run but it is important to keep iterating. You can see Salesforce’s Wearables strategy following that curve as the company just announced a score of new apps for Apple Watch.
I am using the Pauling analogy because while the apps are certainly useful they don’t convey the sense of hitting the ball out of the park and the whole wearables revolution depends on finding the killer app. Or does it?
Killer apps were once easy to spot. For PC’s spreadsheets and word processing were the must have solutions that made boxes sell. Then graphics packages gave laptops a reason to exist. But look at the handheld device and you see something different. I don’t think the handheld has a killer app but it has a stable of them. For the first time, these devices are so personalized that they can be anything that a user wants them to be simply by downloading apps for pennies. Our phones and tablets reflect the way we live our lives.
It’s hard to contemplate something more personal than a phone and its apps but perhaps time will make it apparent how wearable computing takes us further. Certainly the suite of wearable apps that Salesforce announced today is a worthwhile contribution to the journey.
If the phone enabled us to automate our personal lives, it appears the vision for wearables is to further automate work but at a very personalized level and perhaps the form factor is just right too. After all, in our personal lives, we can dedicate as much time and effort as we want to tracking flights of angry birds through maps of exotic places we’ve photographed in different time zones while reading French newspapers and selecting tonight’s movie. You get the idea.
In our business lives just give us the facts (or data) ma’am, we can fill in the missing pieces so wearables are ideal. Salesforce’s passel of programs for Apple Watch all seem to do this in one way or another. Take the BetterWorks Wear app for instance. They say it’s designed to connect employees around common goals. That’s a perfect app for conveying the essential information to team members without cluttering up their days. If you need long form conversation you can always text or even dial the phone or send email.
Speaking of calls, the ContactWorld for Wearables app from NewVoiceMedia helps users triage incoming calls from the wrist without necessarily picking up. Perhaps you’re busy and can’t take a call right now but you’d make an exception if the caller was really important and not necessarily in love with you today. You’d want that call to see if you could turn the situation around. That’s personalizing your approach to business—doing the most you can with the limited resources at your disposal.
In ways like this wearables apps are enabling us to get incredibly fine grained about our personal relationships with our jobs and our customers. It’s what McAfee and Brynjolfsson we getting at in “The Second Machine Age.” Wearables are enabling us to filter the ocean of our personal-work lives so that we can more effectively use our limited time.
So perhaps the killer app for wearables isn’t a single app or even a constellation of them. It is an approach, a new paradigm, a good idea that bubbled up from all those earlier ideas we had that didn’t quite push the ball over the goal line. Linus would get it.