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Apple Watch and the Enterprise: Oh, God. This is Kinda Dumb.


I’ve been reading a lot about the new Apple Watch. As a consumer, it is an interesting device. Not one I’m going to get anytime soon but interesting, okay? I’ve done the smartwatch thing with the crowdfunded Pebble. It was cool. I liked having RunKeeper on my wrist, for instance. But the novelty of getting notifications and even responding to texts on a watch got old.

That’s also to say that I’m not really a watch person. I know some people are, though. Apple will probably sell a lot of them, but I’m not sure what the long term uptake on this new technology will be. I’m doubtful, overall.

What I’m less doubtful about is how all of these articles about how Apple Watch will change the enterprise are going to sound kind of silly a year from now.

Look, there are some interesting use cases for Apple Watch for the enterprise outside of communication and notifications that simply move from your phone to your wrist. In HR, upstart BetterWorks is releasing an app (though I’m a little more interested in their hire from Apple than their product for the wrist) and Salesforce has something going live, as well.

But wearable technology has been around for awhile and the broader market will continue to grow and define itself. I’m just not sure it will be through expansive apps on a 4 cm watch face.

The hysteria around Apple Watch in particular is more about protecting what’s left of enterprise tech press. They missed the boat on what smartphones and tablets would do in the workplace, and approached BYOD from a CIO’s perspective instead of a CEO’s perspective.

That being said, an organization’s Apple Watch strategy should probably be behind figuring out why all of your other enterprise technology is so screwed up. Once you figure that out, as well as figuring out mobile and tablet access, then you can think about watches. From my seat though, few companies have that luxury. The Apple Watch is a nice, shiny object you can foist attention onto instead of any of the real problems you should probably try to fix first. Which is to say, your employees likely want you to fix a broken learning and development system or fix employee self-service than focus on a niche product that won’t even work on a majority of smartphones out there today.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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