Airtable is praised for rediscovering this basis of office productivity software, spreadsheets. But there is much more to the company’s low-code application than cloud spreadsheet playback, according to Ilan Frank, who recently left Slack to be vice president of product at Airtable.
Air mass combines the functionality of a relational database with an intuitive interface which allows users to plan a team project, manage a sales pipeline, etc. Its low-code approach allows a wide range of users to customize workflows to meet their specific needs.
The app is often referred to as “a steroid spreadsheet,” Frank said, although the description underestimates its use for business. “I don’t look at it that way at all.”
What Airtable does, he said, is connect data from various applications that serve as recording systems for businesses. This can be data generated in the Airtable itself or from external applications, such as PagerDuty-registered incidents, Zendesk tickets or Salesforce territory maps. “We’re building a data center that unlocks all this isolated data.”
One way to do this is through the integration of Airtable data synchronization, which can be used with Jira Cloud, Box, Tableau and GitHub, among others. Airtable plans to increase the number of synchronizations so that users can enter data into the platform and share it throughout their organization. The company also plans to create an API so developers can create their own agent to sync with external systems, and is working to build a “data market” for the app, Frank said. This way, customers can share information more easily internally.
In a sense, he said, Airtable’s approach to the data hub parallels Slack’s collaboration platform, which has proven to be a popular channel for peer interaction. “Slack is fantastic in terms of commitment so that people can communicate with each other,” he said. “Everything is there, this is the optimal solution. But I think it’s also important in the departments that are scattered around the world so that the data can be delivered [be connected]. And I think here comes the Airtable. “
Airtable, which launched in 2013, has attracted the attention of investors in recent years. A $ 735 million funding round in December valued the company at $ 11 billion, bringing its total investment to $ 1.4 billion. The company claims to have more than 300,000 customers, including Netflix, Red Bull and luxury goods company LVHM, and is used by about 80% of the Fortune 500. Its annual recurring revenues are reportedly over $ 100 millionand CEO Howie Liu is thought to be preparing for public listing over the next few years.
Hiring Frank is an indication of Airtable’s plan to target larger business customers. During his six years at Slack, he led the company’s push in the company and participated in the creation of Slack’s Enterprise Grid product, which helped deploy thousands of employees. Near the end of his term at Slack, Frank worked for nine months at a time as a product advisor for Airtable, before moving to the latter company. He also advised several other companies to move from product-led growth to establishing a stronger corporate presence.
He cites the similarities between Airtable and Slack in their initial acceptance among smaller teams within an organization before spreading more widely. Airtable is increasingly being adopted in customer organizations, he said, citing “the same signs of maturity … where Slack has really begun to be seen as a wall-to-wall tool from the C-suite.
“It’s imported by a team and spread to other teams, and then eventually IT or some kind of central technology organization says, ‘Okay, now everyone has access to the Airtable.’ .
This virus adoption, he said, is also one of the differentiators that Airtable has compared to other low-code or no-code enterprise applications. “We continue to live and breathe this DNA of product-led growth, very easy to use and absorb,” he said.
“Unlike some corporate platforms, we want to be bottom-up and make sure we serve the needs of end users, and ultimately the CIOs who will embrace it and deploy it wall to wall.” he said. . “It means both the ‘consumer’ and the ‘voter.'”
Airtable is “extremely successful” at the team level, said Angela Ashendon, chief analyst at CCS Insight. This is especially true in smaller organizations, where it includes the growing demand for low-code options that enable “non-technical staff to solve their own problems – which are often very specific to their organization or team.”
Winning positions among larger companies is another challenge.
“He’s checking the ground for virus,” she said. “But getting closer to corporate opportunity is always difficult, not least because of the new complexity of security and compliance that usually comes at this level.
“Getting involved across the enterprise, finding the right stakeholders and convincing IT organizations that it’s something other than shadow IT will also be a challenge,” Ashendon said. “Often there is still a need for centralized control and management, which is a difficult approach to distributed creation.”
Ashenden also notes a number of competitors, from smaller players such as Coda and Asana, to similar ones to Microsoft with its Lists product.
“So it will definitely take time for Airtable to gain serious strength and confidence in the company,” she said, “but the company’s recent investment will undoubtedly play a critical role in fueling this engine.”
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