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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet (Part 7)

Posted on Thursday, Apr 3rd 2014

Sramana Mitra: Let me suggest something else as well. You know there’re so many cloud apps right now. It’s becoming very fragmented and there is a large number of point solutions all over the place. With an enterprise company with lots of resources, you can potentially avail of integration resources to manage all these and to coordinate and link things up. There is also a huge amount of cloud services and applications consumption in the small business category. There, the resources just do not exist to be able to stitch all these things up and to integrate. What is your view of that world?

Mark Mader: I have two answers. One is there’s an ecosystem that’s being developed around enabling non-technically savvy people to link these together very easily. There’s a company called Zapier which enables companies like ours to build bridges to their service so that you can orchestrate workflow between a Smartsheet and an Evernote or a Box and an Evernote. A non-developer can go in and basically orchestrate workflow. It’s a very fascinating trend where 10 years ago, you would have needed R&D budget to solve that integration even if the provider has given you an API. There’s a whole set of tools and services coming out to actually enable those types of flows which I think is a very nice trend for SMBs who don’t have the capital to stitch them together.

The other theme that we’re hearing from our customers is that, as you correctly pointed out, there is a high number of these tools coming on to the market. We’re hearing from people that there’s this notion of app fatigue. It’s like getting tired of having a separate app for every separate workflow. I think that’s one of the themes that we try to address by saying, “How can you do multiple work functions or process functions within a single application framework?” That’s a theme that successful companies are really starting to address as opposed to just solving one very specific capability even if it’s done very well.

Sramana Mitra: You need a certain market position to be able to say that you are going to be a consolidator or hub for different applications. You have to have a critical mass of users to be able to do something like that.

Mark Mader: If you’re just enabling somebody to collect a candidate’s information, you have just solved one HR flow. Are you going to get another system for your other five flows within HR or would you prefer to have one system that can address multiple ones? You can also look at the skill level of the workforce. What is your cost to on-boarding an employee? How can you use technology and a consolidation of tools as opposed to an explosion in the number of tools to simplify the employee experience? People, especially in more traditional industries, were saying that they are very aware of the cost to ramp. I think the notion of ‘cloud-means-consumer-means-easy’ is overly simplified. It can still be a very complex beast when you land 10 apps in front of somebody.

Sramana Mitra: Excellent. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet
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