Replacing Rigidity with Creativity: Why We're Delighted to Develop for Apple Watch

Donna Wilczek
Donna Wilczek
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Innovation, Coupa Software

She is an executive sponsor of the Coupa Executive Advisory Board and an inventor with multiple software patents.

Read time: 9 mins
Apple Watch

Apple Watch goes on sale April 24, with pre-orders starting in just one month on April 10th. The watch will go a long way toward expanding the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend of recent years into a new subcategory: BYOW (Bring Your Own Watch).  

As anticipated, the watch can do a lot of what the phone can do. You can make and take calls of course, listen to your music, do Apple Pay and check the weather. You can Instagram, Uber, and even check Salesforce.

With all this functionality, some analysts and pundits are wondering why you’d need the watch if you have the phone, and vice versa. That leads them to the obvious question of whether the watch will cut into iPhone sales. They’re missing the point: It’s all about choice.

That’s why I’m so excited about it personally and professionally. Personally, I can’t wait to buy one. Professionally, I’m excited about what we’re developing here at Coupa for Apple Watch wearers.

Why is choice so important? I’m reminded of an article in this month’s print issue of Wired, Bricks and Order by Jon Mooallem.

Jon, who  writes an advice column for Wired called Mr. Know-It-All, answered a reader question about whether the reader’s daughter should be forced to sort her Legos by color.

As the mom of two little ginger boys, I can tell you that upon first reading the question it sounded like a fantastic idea, given that what I call Lego Chaos Theory is currently being practiced at my house. As in, there are Legos all over the place and it’s a constant battle to get them put away. Having them all neatly corralled and sorted by color appealed to my sense of order and control. I felt a brief moment of zen.

But within a split second, I stopped my reverie and blurted out “that’s ridiculous.” I thought about my kids and how I try to support their creativity and ability to make choices every day. Yes, the Legos should be put away, but my dictating exactly how that should occur would stifle creativity and choice.

Jon’s article drew the same conclusion. “So why not let your kid decide? Let her dictate the system,” he writes. “Let there be a different system every time. That will generate excitement about cleaning up, instead of resentment.”

Yes! Now, we’re talking. I see this playing out in so many areas of modern parenting where old approaches of dictating rigid rules are giving way to new approaches that help kids make smart decisions. We’re raising generations of kids that have been given the option to make decisions for themselves. And it has to be that way, because they have an unprecedented number of choices to make throughout their lives.

I also see this playing out in business, where consumer technology such as Apple Watch is delivering so many new choices that it’s changing the expectations of what’s acceptable at work. This consumerization of IT, where business users choose what devices and services they use to get their work done is a dramatic shift. Think about it, would people in the 1980’s have brought their own typewriter to work? It’s a whole new world.

To remain competitive in this era of choice, businesses must enable their employees and suppliers to work in many different ways if they are going to be more successful than their competitors. That means thinking about the needs of their different users and letting those needs dictate the approach. It means recognizing that the world is 100% mobile and even a mobile phone app isn't enough to support everyone’s diverse needs.

It’s one of the reasons that Coupa’s development team will continue to run at supporting all users in creative ways. We will have our Actionable Notifications available for any Coupa user within weeks after Apple Watch ships. To start, you’ll be able to approve an expense report, invoice, or requisition in seconds right from your wrist.

We'll follow that up by allowing Coupa Expense users to automatically start and stop a mileage tracker from the Apple Watch, and then automatically create a mileage expense report line item. I can hear sales people the world over rejoicing that they'll no longer have to maintain a mileage log or enter the start and stop address in an expense report. And accountants everywhere will be happy that they have the documentation they need to support government mileage reimbursement reports. 

That’s the win-win we’re after: end users have the freedom to exercise choice and their employer reduces costs and increases the speed of business. 

Apple Watch is big news, but I see it as just the start for a whole new range of choices. Our children will be faced with more choices than we can even imagine, and it’s our job as parents to prepare them to make intelligent choices in that world.

Similarly, it’s our job as intelligent software creators to continually design software that supports people’s abilities to decide what works best for them.

If you give people choices, they’ll naturally choose the way that takes them the least amount of time. This is what brings back excitement to the task at hand, replacing rigidity with creativity. The Lego mom in me couldn’t be happier about creating that type of world.