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Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide

Where Apple Watch Leads, CRM Will Follow?

By Erika Morphy
Sep 25, 2014 5:58 PM PT
Pebble Steel Smartwatch

CRM system users are a versatile bunch. Some 29 percent of participants in a recent survey accessed CRM through four devices: laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones. Twenty percent said they used a combination of three of the aforementioned form factors, and about 81 percent said they used multiple devices to access CRM, according to Software Advice's report.

However the percentages shake out, the survey makes it clear that CRM vendors need to think in terms of multiple screens and multiple screen sizes.

Now it appears that smartwatches will be added to the mix, thanks to interest stirred up by the recently announced Apple Watch.

Apple has said nothing about enterprise software tailored for its Watch. Given how quickly its other products have been adapted for the enterprise, though, it is surely just a matter of time.

CRM already has been making its way onto other manufacturers' smartwatches, and with Apple in the mix, take-up surely will increase.

The question is, what will it look like? For a smartwatch to add value to a CRM app it will have to do more than just what a smartphone or tablet can offer.

Fortunately, we have some early implementations as a guide.

Pebble Smartwatch and SAP

It may be that that value-add is as simple as making life as convenient as possible for sales reps and other people who use CRM apps in the field.

For example, an integration of SAP Cloud for Customer with the Pebble Smartwatch (pictured above) allows sales professionals to more easily access and update CRM data -- and skip the cumbersome process of taking out their phones, tablets or laptops, according to Ethan Fan.

Other niceties this integration offers:

  • You can check on upcoming activities in the calendar on the smartwatch, and post canned replies using SMS, email or even SAP Jam. It is useful when you are running late for a meeting and you need to quickly notify all stakeholders: "On my way -- be there in 5 minutes."
  • When calling or receiving a call from a customer, you can use the caller ID to retrieve notes about the customer, or about tasks that have to be performed during the call. This is extremely useful if you are not using a hands-free headset.

Thalmic Labs and Salesforce

Another example of a CRM integration with smartwatch technology is provided by Thalmic Labs and Salesforce.com. Thalmic used Salesforce Wear to crate a gesture-controlled interface for its Myo wristband.

One use case is a surgeon wearing the wristband during surgery. A large screen in the operating theater can be navigated by the surgeon via the wristband, using hand and wrist gestures to move the cursor and controls. As the surgeon moves his arm, the cursor on the screen responds. He can expand a view on the screen with a fist twist or rotate it using other gestures.

Twisting his hand is equivalent to a mouse click; the surgeon can bring up X-rays, enlarge them -- even order post-operative X-rays, all without touching anything or compromising the sterility of the surgical environment.

Looking Good

With Apple opening the floodgates, other watch makers are jumping into the market to incorporate technology into their offerings. Guess is one example; another is luxury brand Tag Heuer.

The result is a wide array of watches that are acceptable to wear in almost any venue -- from a formal dinner affair that is business related to a trade show.

This is a lesson that other brands only gradually learned when Google Glass was emerging. It took a good while for eyeglass designers to realize their potential and make products that would not be as geeky and, in some cases, downright socially unacceptable.


Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.


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