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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet (Part 6)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 2nd 2014

Mark Mader: Then, there was the promise in native app development that went, “Why don’t you build it with a framework and the framework can propagate your app to all these different device platforms?” That failed miserably. The performance did not meet client’s expectations for almost every provider who tried that. Ten people said, “What’s the promise of HTML 5?” That also failed. User experience level was not high enough. We’ve gone from a web app world to where people’s expectations on solutions being, “I want a compelling web experience plus I want a compelling native app experience so that I can access, update, and share my information from wherever I am.”

Then, the third piece is another derivative which says, “Now that I’m using these different cloud services, how do these cloud services coexist peacefully and effectively with each other. For instance, if I use Dropbox, can I use it with Smartsheet? If I use Salesforce, can I use Salesforce with SmartSheet? How does the information flow between us? We’ve seen a very dramatic shift in user expectations. I think the big winners in cloud will have very strong answers to the web app experience, the native app experience, and then also the API-based ecosystem that customers are really getting shrewd on.

Sramana Mitra: If you were to start a company today, where would you zero in on?

Mark Mader: I think there’s a big theme, as software companies are selling into enterprise, in the security front. It’ something where both lines of business heads and security officers are recognizing that the migration to cloud is occurring and it’s not even so much just on the locking things down but also getting visibility to what’s occurring within the environment. I’ll give you an example of one of the things that we’re developing that helps people address. Very often, people think about discreet feature development. Can we build something to enable someone to better track a piece of information in a Smartsheet?

There’s another vector development, which is the visualization around the flows of information. If I’ve shared with 500 people over the last three years and I’m tracking 200 different pieces of work, what are the things that matter? Can we provide our clients with visibility into not only what’s being tracked but also to who are the real facilitators within the company? Who is that glue who holds the different teams together and who has ownership of these key things? Beyond security, that provides them with insight into how do they secure their best people? How do they keep on the team? That’s a whole realm that is taking off.

Look at the success that a company like Tableau has had recently on the visualization front. We have a number of our clients who have hooked Tableau to Smartsheets so they can visualize the flow of information. One part is security in terms of lock down and making sure that things are adhering to policy. The other issue is visibility and intelligence. There have been a number of well-funded companies recently on the visualization space. I think that’s getting very crowded now but I think the appetite for security command and control visibility will remain very high.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet
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