This conversation takes our coverage of the cloud-based productivity space further.
Sramana Mitra: Mark, let’s introduce our audience to yourself as well as Smartsheet.
Mark Mader: I’m the CEO of Smartsheet. We are a Software-as-a-Service provider that serves about 40,000 businesses today in over 150 countries. The category of solution that we provide is enabling teams and businesses to collaborate on work and projects more effectively. That sounds like a very expansive category but in essence, it is one that is going through tremendous change right now as individuals and companies are trying to figure out how to adjust to working in a networked, cloud-based model. The types of businesses we serve are very diverse ranging from the commercial sector, government, non-profit, to education. Very similar to what one might see in an essential software utility like Microsoft Office, the applicability is vast. The types of work that people track in our project and work management tool ranges around a number of different processes. Some of it is capturing information, which is what we refer to as intake – the initiation of a process whether it is a hiring flow or a feedback flow.
There’s also an intake process within businesses today. Many firms, prior to the cloud, were initiated either through phone calls or something that was less self-directed. Another type of process that we help people enable is what we might refer to project collaboration. How do we, in a multi-user fashion, enable people to efficiently work together in completing a project? That may be a traditional or what we refer to as a waterfall process where you have a series of milestones with assignments and due dates and they are all connected to one another. When we look at the vast market, most people don’t refer to themselves as project managers per se. They say, “I’m responsible for work. I’m responsible in completing that work with others. What are the tools that are best suited to enable me to do so?”
Sramana Mitra: It sounds like you’re in the space that would generally be described as a cloud-based productivity solution, correct?
Mark Mader: Yes, it’s a super category that we fit within.
Sramana Mitra: Why don’t you lay out for us the ecosystem map of how you look at the category? Who are the major players? Whom do you compete with? Whom do you interface with?
Mark Mader: When we look at the different product categories in Software-as-a-Service, we often speak to what their analog is in the pre-cloud world. As we look at the different centers of gravity, there’s really a progression of people from the traditional on-premise world to the cloud world. For instance, one category is the file sync and share. The companies that many of us have heard and used are Dropbox and Box. That is trying to move on premise file storage and management to a cloud-enabled platform. You have all these other categories as well. You have finance, HRIS [human resource information system], and sales force automation, which was one of the early cloud products with Salesforce leading the way. You have all of these systems that are now finding homes in cloud-based structures.