Design Exploration: The Next Innovation Phase is Not for Consumer Hardware. It’s for Enterprise Software.

Our cell phones and laptops take up a ton of time in our personal lives. When it comes to productivity in our professional ones, there’s still a ton of room to grow in the app & product development space.

If you’re relatively well off in America, chances are that you can get or buy anything you need to make your personal life as productive and comfortable as possible. If there isn’t a physical tech gadget to help you, there’s probably an app that’ll do just fine. Yet when you start your 9–5 job, you’ll notice there are probably a ton of tasks that take up so much unnecessary time.

It’s why you hear people cringe when someone talks about filing their expenses. It’s why you’re still writing your to-do tasks on Notepad or in a Google Spreadsheet. It’s why you take a couple seconds out of your day to think about whether you’re going to upload your slides on Google Drive, on Box, on DropBox, on ClearSlide, or on your company’s internal storage program, or just send it via e-mail and wait 20 minutes while they upload. It’s why the host of your conference call with 25 people on the line just dropped off and now you have to re-dial in the whole meeting. If you ever wonder why you end up leaving work later than you should 4 or 5 times a week, it may simply be because you’re having too many meetings or you’re not being productive enough…or both.

Often times employee productivity isn’t always weighted on the employee. Usually a company’s IT department or management structure may make being efficient at work a living hell. If you’re working in a fairly new age tech company though, that may not be the case.

The problem may simply be that the business software your company or the government agency you work for is using, just isn’t getting the necessary feedback to make changes. Think of it from a consumer vs. business standpoint. If someone hates a feature on their iPhone or sees an awful flaw, it’s way more likely that others will have the same opinion and write about it on tech blogs, tweet about it, and make a big enough fuss that Apple will most likely make a few changes. That’s the power of public consumer feedback. Frustrations with business products used to usually stay in between the walls of the company or were shared over drinks with a friend or family member that used similar tools in their 9–5. Simply put; they didn’t get the same attention consumer products do, even when they make a big impact on your day-to-day life and overall productivity. Thankfully, that’s changing really quickly.

The real challenge in the next five to ten years will be how tech companies make things easier for employees across the world. Is it lucrative? Hell yeah. Think about how much money Uber makes on expensed business rides or what American Express’s contract is with tons of companies using their corporate card programs. B2B Productivity Solutions is a big market and with the adoption of more artificial intelligence in work-streams, it’ll get even bigger. Whether it’s using AI for recapping meetings or figuring out how one can stop spending the whole day sending and reading e-mails, the goal isn’t to have a virtual personal assistant. The goal is to cut out the monotony and repetitive nature of your work so you can come up with more brilliant ideas.

Speaking of some brilliant ideas, here are some thought-starters on integrations & innovative concepts companies can start working on now.

SAP Concur: Labeling Expenses via Notifications

Create a notification that links to an employee’s corporate card which lets you categorize your expenses as you’re making the purchase. This way, you won’t have to remember what you bought at “HUDSON NEWS — JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY” a month later when you’re doing expenses.

Google: Creating Calendar Invites in Gmail

This type of work is most likely already being beta tested in some manner, but would be a really helpful feature so you don’t have to constantly go back from Gmail to Google Calendar

Apple: FaceTime & iWork for Business

At this year’s WWDC, Apple‘s announcement that a new feature for iOS 12 will allow FaceTime to accommodate up to 32 people at once is a major sign the company is already thinking about entering the enterprise video conferencing market. Looks like they’re ready to give Google Hangouts a run for its money.

How do they capitalize on this? By leveraging their flagship iPhone of course. Imagine a world where you enter a conference room with a connected Apple TV and you don’t have to worry about screwing around with all the wires to connect your laptop to the TV or swipe around on a different monitor. Apple will most likely integrate Airdrop, Airplay, iPhone, & Keynote presentations into their video conferencing and it’s going to be beautiful, saving you tons of time and worries. Here’s my rendition of what it could potentially look like for both iOS & tvOS:

The possibilities are endless but those that have the best shot at succeeding are the big dogs. This is where the consumer model actually matters. Employees will use something they’re used to in their personal lives. That’s why the ubiquitous presence of the Googles and Apples of the world will continue to succeed and innovate in the enterprise space. It’s now a waiting game to see who does it the best.

Rest assured, the productivity revolution is already happening. If you’re looking for some efficiency in the meantime, just go outside for a quick bite. 7-Eleven just recently moved their taquito and hot dog station to self-serve and it’s pretty sweet. Shorter lines and more buffalo chicken rollers.