Man oh man I feel like it's 2007 all over again. Ok, not the most motivating opening sentence but in 2007 cloud and SaaS were being opined as the future of business applications. Yes, you already had some SaaS pioneers like Salesforce, Taleo, SuccessFactors, Eloqua, etc. doing very well and growing, but cloud was just starting to be a main topic of discussion. The big guys like Oracle, Microsoft and SAP were either openly dismissing cloud as a fad or not doing anything real about it. Even Gartner used to think "SaaS" was "SAS", the analytics software company!
Well we know how that all turned out.
Right around that time we made our first big bet, which was to build an integration platform for the cloud era. We were looking at the Boomi business in 2006 and wondering what the next generation of our business was going to look like. Internally at Boomi we were early adopters of cloud, rolling out Salesforce "way back" in 2004, and it was clear to us that application and data integration would fundamentally change if the world were to move to the cloud. And so our first big bet began; we decided to design (from scratch) a new integration platform with cloud at the forefront of our architecture. An architecture that would help businesses integrate their applications and data, recognizing the reality that businesses cannot just pull the plug on all the infrastructure they have running on premise overnight, and instead would need to have a secure and robust integration architecture that spanned their firewall safely into the cloud. That product was a big success for Boomi and ultimately led to our acquisition by Dell. And I am very proud of the team that still, to this day, is kicking ass and growing an awesome business as part of the Dell software group.
Guru is now the manifestation of our 2nd big bet: destinations (read: "portals") are dying, and the knowledge we need to perform our jobs on a daily basis should find us when we need it. So how did we get here?
Just like in 2007 when a lot of smart people were talking about revolutionary concepts like multi-tenancy and elastic computing, we are now at the beginning of what we believe will be another rewrite of the web. Instead of our devices containing a sea of apps that we must find, open and use, we will flip this pattern upside down into a discrete collection of services and workflows based on the job that we need to do. These services will come to us, we won’t go to them anymore, and underneath the hood a workflow will be possibly dozens of “apps” built by dozens of different companies each serving their own very specific and valuable purpose. And these discrete services will leverage whatever data we choose to share such as our email, our location, our likes, and give us a simple and intelligent experience.
We have written about this already in our post about destinations, it's silly how many places, logins, steps are required to complete basic tasks today. The founder of Drupal just wrote a great post on this topic, and Paul Adams from Intercom wrote an awesome if not controversial post on the topic as well. And let’s not forget about cards — this is one of the new design patterns that makes what we are describing possible. We see more and more examples of people talking about and building card based UX as well.
While many talk about the notification being the future of how we interact with services on mobile devices, we feel one of the best analog experiences for the desktop today is the browser extension. Chrome has absolutely dominated the desktop browser experience, and their extensions are one of the big reasons why.
This is a big deal. We feel that what is described as an “extension” will be a core design pattern in this new architecture. It probably won’t be called an “extension” anymore, but the notion of layering context and value added services into your current workflow will become a common way we "get work done".
So just like we did in 2006, we are taking these exciting trends and making them the blueprint for Guru. And just like 2006, we couldn't be more excited. This time its about knowledge sharing, another one of those age old yet unsolved problems, just like integration used to be. As companies grow, the way they institutionalize the "brain" of the company hasn't really changed in well over a decade. There is some portal that contains department-specific knowledge. Someone probably thoughtfully crafted that content, but no one really reads it and its gone stale, no longer reflective of the current learnings of the business. Its a classic "out of sight out of mind" problem because it lives outside of your daily workflow. And yet there are fewer things in our digital world that are more important to making us productive employees than ensuring that we have access to the knowledge we need to do our jobs, wherever we are working.
- What is the best thing to tell a prospect who is looking at my competitor?
- How should I be describing that new feature we just released?
- What do all these stages mean in my CRM?
These are questions that come up while we are doing other things. The knowledge we need is a means to an end; the end is the job that has to get done, and the knowledge informs us how to complete the job. But despite this, solutions that exist today are built in the exact opposite way. It always hinges around some central place for knowledge, and its up to you to go digging around trying to find the answer to your question.
It's a big problem and one we are really passionate about. And this is just one of many categories that are ripe for disruption. It's early days for sure, but this is an exciting time to be working in technology as we witness the next wave of transformation.