Sensorification of the Enterprise

A few years ago a bunch of consumer internet companies had an “Oh, shit” moment around mobile. They saw all their traffic coming in from mobile rather than the web. They redid everything to take advantage of mobile. Many still aren’t done doing so (and some have yet to make the shift).

Now something similar is happening in the enterprise world, which is going to have its own “Oh shit” moment. But this is not just about bringing mobile to the enterprise. It’s about much more than that…

Think about what’s possible with smartphones today. The form and sophisticated functionality of smartphones has led to businesses we couldn’t ever have imagined (ridesharing, to name just one example). This was made possible partly because of the “sensorification” of the landscape, coupled with mobile and a friendly UI.

That same sensorification needs to move into the enterprise.

Enterprise UI is woefully behind. All those well-understood motions that have taken hold from our everyday smartphone behaviors — pinch, zoom, swipe, tap, speak, even just moving stuff around with our fingers — have yet to take hold in the enterprise. The user interface has always been an afterthought, the last thing one did after building a database. That is changing now.

So where do the sensors come in? Think about what happened on mobile. We don’t have a lot of screen real estate or functionality available there; the sensors are essentially used as “shortcuts” to information and actions the user doesn’t have to perform. Instead of having to manually type location in to our phones every time, GPS simply informs our phones that ‘you are here’ so it can automatically load that context.

For enterprise, the value of the sensors is in being a shortcut for the user interface, potentially even replacing typing so we can concentrate on the easy, fun, creative things.

— Scott Weiss