SAP Work Manager and the Apple Watch

SAP Work Manager on the Apple Watch


When the iPhone was first released a lot of people thought “Why would I need something like that? I can text with my phone, I have an iPod, who needs to browse the web from a small screen?”

Well…we can see how that worked out. The iPhone was a game changer not only for the consumer world but also for the way we work. The release of the iPhone SDK and the apps that followed have fundamentally changed the way we communicate in our everyday lives.

With this change to our personal lives came big changes in our jobs. Now we use apps on our smartphones and tablets to get work done in the office or on the go.

The enterprise world and SAP are still playing catch-up to this mobile revolution. SAP has finally started to realize that their applications need to be as simple and productive as consumer-grade applications. At Excellis we are seeing these changes literally every day. New applications like the Fiori suite of apps have come a long way to making enterprise business process easier to use, on the desktop and mobile devices.

Which brings us to the Apple Watch. Honestly, ever since the device was announced I have thought “Why would I need this watch? I have my iPhone. I have my iPad. This doesn’t seem practical.”

Then I remember that is exactly what people said about the iPhone.

Technology and it’s uses move at a breakneck pace. The one thing we cannot do anymore is underestimate new devices and their uses. So when the Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines were released the User Experience and Interaction Design team here at Excellis took a good, hard look at what the potential could be for our clients and their SAP applications in an Apple Watch world.

Now What?

First things first: just because a client may WANT an Apple Watch SAP app doesn’t mean that they NEED one. The same thing has always applied to iPhones and iPads. Your ridiculously complicated and user-unfriendly interface just can’t be shoehorned into the form factor of a phone or tablet. You have to be smart, start at the beginning, and do the research to determine how the application will be used by HUMANS. If the application doesn’t make sense to put in the insanely small form factor of a watch then don’t do it.

There was something there though. There was a purpose for an SAP Apple Watch app that made sense.

Recently at Excellis we have done a lot of design & development on the SAP Work Manager application for a number of clients and the real world use of it is a good fit for an Apple Watch concept app.

A recent client project had us building a custom SAP Work Manager application for a large medical device company. The basic use of the app is to assign, track, and document repairs & service for the company’s devices at hospitals across the U.S. The application was custom developed for the client’s service techs and managers based on specific use cases and business processes for iPads and iPhones.

SAP Work Manager iPad App

The SAP Work Manager iPad that Excellis customized for our client, a medical device company.

When we looked at the use cases and user research for this client’s SAP Work Manager application we identified 3 key uses in which an Apple Watch app would be beneficial for the client’s service techs & managers.

These three uses were:

  • Displaying a service notification request
  • Viewing details of the service notification
  • Assigning a status to the service notification

Like any app concept we do at Excellis we started with the story. How will this app be used in a real world scenario? This is a great exercise for our UX and interaction designers that helps us visualize the use case. In this Apple Watch app concept for SAP Work Manager the following story is what we wrote for how it would be used:

The User Story

Service technician James Howlett is on-site at Xavier Memorial Hospital repairing a rigid surgery telescope. He is in the middle of using industrial glue to repair a gasket when his Apple Watch buzzes with a new notification. Without pulling out his iPad from his repair kit bag he glances at the Watch, sees the SAP Work Manager service notification, swipes to unlock the watch, views the new service notification, and taps the “Assigned” button to let his manager know he is adding it to his work list.

SAP Work Manager on the Apple Watch
SAP Work Manager on the Apple Watch


SAP Work Manager on the Apple Watch
SAP Work Manager on the Apple Watch


That’s it. That’s the extent of what research & analysis dictates can and SHOULD be done with an Apple Watch app.

Again, all of this is conceptual. Will there be an Apple Watch app for SAP Work Manager? Maybe. Does it make sense financially to outfit a company to outfit it’s entire service force with an additional device that costs (at the minimum) $400.00? Who knows? Will the Apple Watch (or other smart watches) even become a legitimate tool that SAP can leverage with custom software? I don’t know. No one does.

However things shake out remember the saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We can’t afford to try to guess what will be the next big thing. Businesses need to adapt to the changes in the world quickly or they will be left behind.

This SAP Work Manager app for Apple Watch may just be a concept but it’s good to be prepared. It’s good to think ahead, to imagine the possibilities. That’s what we do here at Excellis. We make great software that improves your business. Maybe someday that business will include a smart watch. If it does, rest assured, we are already a step ahead.

One Response to “SAP Work Manager and the Apple Watch”

  1. Gavin Quinn

    Looks great Todd. Have a few questions on the work manager customization you did actually, that looks great!


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