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How Wearables, Analytics and the IoT Will Redefine the Enterprise of 2020

Mayank MehtaIn this special guest feature, Mayank Mehta of Capriza looks out a few years on the horizon and reflects on how pervasive technologies stand to redefine the enterprise. Mayank is Vice President of Product at Capriza, a Palo-Alto-based mobility company. Prior to Capriza, Mayank was the co-founder and head of product at Cooliris, a company focused on redefining the browser experience, and founder of Ambient Technologies, a home automation company bringing the Jetsons to life by creating set it-forget, it products for the home and office. He holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, with a double major in Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship. His undergraduate was at McGill University where he majored in Computer and Electrical Engineering.

New technology like wearable computing, mobile apps, the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and data analytics are beginning to influence all aspects of our lives. As a consumer, it can feel like your applications are always a step ahead of you. Use navigation app Waze at a certain time of day, and it knows you are heading from the office to home, pre-populating the route.

This pervasive connectivity, and abundance of information about users, places, and things play a pivotal role in creating highly contextual and efficient experiences. In the case of smart apps, the experience begins 30 seconds before the user taps it — it knows what the user is looking for before they do.

In the enterprise however, the experience is drastically different. Business solutions aren’t used for entertainment. They’re launched to get work done. Helping the user accomplish their intended task as quickly and effectively as possible is far more critical in a business setting, yet most enterprise-geared products lag far behind the user’s intent. This is one of the main reasons why new services like SaaS platforms are replacing rapidly aging enterprise-grade technology. And it’s the main driver behind the rapid adoption and momentum of solutions like Slack, despite its facing off against the giant that is email.

To put it simply, there is too much friction. In any given workflow, you have to go through several levels to get to what you really need. For instance, say you’re part of the customer service team: You use Salesforce to get the information you need to best serve customers. But depending on the information, you have to go across half-a-dozen windows in search for the right sales pitch, product information, or other collateral. You are 15 steps into a workflow before you get to the real starting point. This wastes time, money, and reduces quality of service.

This is in sharp contrast to what you have come to expect using consumer products. Think peer-to-peer payment option solutions like Square that make payments as simple as the tap of a button — eliminating dozens of process steps that you would usually go through. This simple, bare-bones approach has changed industries across the board, be it transportation (Uber), insurance (15 minutes can save you…), accounting (TurboTax), retail (Amazon Same-Day), and so on.

Enterprises that provide this personalized, contextual experience will thrive and those that don’t will falter. By incorporating new processes and concepts that have driven consumer adoption, enterprises can start moving in sync with the broader tech market. By 2020, we will see a Fortune-500 list that is very different than what we see today. (A trend that we’ve already seen manifesting with Facebook’s recent dethroning of Walmart as one of the world’s most valuable companies by market capitalization.)

What will it take to get there? The future lies in the context that users and their workflows create. Efficiency of business is dictated by the efficiency of the individual. And a one-size-fits-all approach to enterprise IT makes this impossible. Massive consumer-oriented change must be enacted quickly, with context and personalization as its focus.

Giving Context to Every Workflow

We know context is critical for employee experiences. Fortunately, IoT, big data, mobile and wearables will come together to create the best context possible for each employee. Why draw out business processes with generic workflows when they can and should be optimized to deliver what’s needed, specific to the individual?

It’s not a new idea, but it is just starting to make a real impact internally for the enterprise. That will soon change as more consumer-based software and devices are tailored for the enterprise. Imagine your smartphone or watch not just reminding you that you have a meeting in 10 minutes, but also populating your device with the documents you’ll need, ordering your car service to get to your meeting across town and keeping you posted on the ETA of the other meeting participants.

This is just one example of the kind of personal context that will be king in the future enterprise both for internal workflows and customer-facing processes. In Disney’s case, context is already ruling the Magic Kingdom. The company is betting $1 billion on mobile and wearable technology that will enable park employees, hosts and even kitchen staff to provide personal context to every guest interaction, and make it easy for them to connect and purchase throughout the happiest place on earth.

Adapting to Thrive

As pervasive context grabs hold, the enterprise will be driven from the bottom up, empowering employees to create the efficiencies needed for success. Enterprises that get this and can evolve rapidly will benefit. You can already see this happening with companies like Uber and Amazon who’ve chipped away at giants like Yellow Cab and Walmart.

Before, to order a cab in any given city, I had to call a number that I had to Google first, stay on hold, talk to an (often rude) operator, share my location and destination, wait for 20-30 minutes on average, be unsure if the cab was taking the best route, and be frowned upon when I tried to pay via my Amex. Compare that to getting an Uber. I launch the app, tap Request an Uber, wait for 5-10 minutes, drink a bottle of chilled water en route to my destination, and get out without having to fumble for my cards or cash.

And Amazon’s new dash button will make purchases even more convenient without eliminating the perk of Amazon’s selection or prices. Imagine purchasing razor blades the moment you know you’ll need them with the simple press of a button right in your bathroom. It makes tedious trips to places like Wal-Mart for a single item a thing of the past.

These companies have almost completely removed themselves from daily business operations allowing for it to be optimized and dictated by the day-to-day use of either employees or consumers. As I mentioned above, this can already be seen in the enterprise with the cloud and “as-a-service” platforms that are customizable and agile compared to legacy solutions, but it’s not quite enough.

The old mode of operation that passes the inefficiencies on to the customer in the form of money or time will continue take a massive hit compared to other options that have created the most efficient workflow. The change is not a trend, it’s a fundamental shift in how users use tech and its impact on the enterprise. Embrace the change or prepare to be left behind.

 

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