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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet (Part 5)

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 1st 2014

Sramana Mitra: Given that’s your sweet spot, whom do you consider as your direct competitor?

Mark Mader: By far in a way, the largest direct competitor remains the traditional spreadsheet. There’s not any other SaaS provider today that uses our form factor – the spreadsheet grid that we present in a collaborative way. When you look at the other markets right now – whether it’s email automation, surveying, CRM, or file sync and share – most of them have multiple participants. Look at Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive, you could just go on and on about all the competitors in those specific niche categories. I think what happened in our category was people conceded the market to Google and Microsoft. When in fact, there was a huge opportunity to innovate on something that is 20 years old in concept.

Sramana Mitra: That’s not entirely accurate because whereas Google and Microsoft are providing spreadsheet, they’re not necessarily trying to provide either workflow or project management through their spreadsheet products. There are players in both the cloud-based project management tools category and there are players in the cloud-based workflow category.

Mark Mader: I think you’re absolutely correct. None of those that we have seen have taken the construct of the spreadsheet as their primary form factor.

Sramana Mitra: That’s absolutely correct. I’m going to ask you to step back a bit and look at the industry as a whole. You can constrain that discussion to the cloud-based productivity solutions or you can even talk about the cloud industry in general. Help me understand what trends you are tracking. What trends do you think are emerging that is potentially threatening to key players as well as to yourselves? Where do you see opportunities, open problems, and blue sky areas?

Mark Mader: The categories are getting filled with players very quickly. If you see something in the non-cloud world, it’s not too far of a stretch to say, “There’s going to be an analog in the cloud ecosystem.” People are going through that map and saying, “How do we get the next point solution in this area and promote it.” I think the one thing that’s less frequently talked about is the nature of the cloud apps and services and what this shift in consumer expectation has been over the last three years. In particular, I will just use our company as an example. When we sold to our first customer in 2006, we had a fairly straightforward model. We had a web application. Since that point, what we call the surface area of this solution space has changed considerably in that you now have native app development.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet
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