The much rumoured and much awaited Apple watch is out today. While other companies (e.g. Samsung, Motorola) have already released smartwatches, Apple has once again redefined this category by fusing the hardware and software to create a whole new experience. It fact it may have redefined the entire watch category. Watch a video where Apple talks about the vision behind and features of Apple watch. We do need to keep in mind that the Apple watch is a companion device for the iphone.
Apple watch may turn out to be the first mainstream wearable technology device. This means that just like smartphones, it will invade the world of work through employees. These employees will then demand that the Apple watch (and other smartwatches) be integrated to work processes to make their life easier.
So what does the Apple watch provide that other devices and smartwatches have not been able to till date? Other wearable devices such as Google Glass possibly provide more features and application; however Apple watch is likely to have a higher adoption rate as it is a mainstream accessory supported by a app ecosystem, design desirability and the relatively affordable price point.
So what are the possibilities for using the Apple Watch for enhancing employee performance support and learning? Apple watch (and other smartphones) provide instant access to information, alerts and ability to take immediate action. In addition the information can be contextualised to the location, time and other variables.
Here are some possible use cases:
Performance Support – Provide alerts and just the right amount of information to help with a task at hand and help remind about progress toward goals such as quarterly sales targets or information about the office (e.g. office manager, office times) when the watch senses it is in a new office location.
Learning – Reinforce key messages from a workshop e.g. steps from a new sales methodology, taught a recently concluded workshop.
Pulse check – While the Apple watch can actually sense your physical pulse, what I mean here is that it allows wearer to respond easily to a poll e.g. on a scale of 1 – 10 how do you feel about the new employee incentive plan ?
Health & Safety – Issue alerts when you approach as area that has been deemed unsafe.
In fact it will create use cases that we can’t visual at the moment when those clever people building apps bring their products to the market.
Implications for HR and Learning.
Process design Implications – A new technology channel which needs to be integrated when into delivery channels for service and information. It can allow employees to immediate capture work metrics instead to waiting to compile at the end of the year for performance appraisals. Or issue alerts that accumulated leave needs to be taken.
Governance – Unlike a phone, this is the first time that an accessory which has traditionally been bought by employees may be provided by the employer. Along with it comes the usual governance impact of security, data privacy etc.
HR capability – I have constantly reinforced the message that HR and Learning professionals need to improve their digital acumen and the launch of Apple watch make this message more urgent.
Digital overload – The Apple watch will add to the digital overload, an issue which is being increasingly recognised and has health implications that need to be “watched”.
Apple watch is a game changer and once the adoption reaches critical mass (which Apple is very good at architecting) it will snowball into new possibilities and directions for supporting employees at work and for learning.
Will I be getting an Apple watch? The answer will depend on whether I can handle more digital overload and I am not sure what the answer is. Maybe buy for the “cool” factor and turn off all digital capabilities?
What do think are the applications and implications of the Apple watch and other smartwatches for performance support and learning?