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Coda says its AI assistant knows your business better than the rest

Stephanie Condon Profile picture for user Stephanie Condon October 4, 2023
With the release of Coda 4.0, the productivity platform is delivering an AI assistant that can tap into an enterprise's full knowledge base, without any extra cost for paying customers.

Coda AI writing assistance product pic
Coda AI writing assistance (Coda)

In the crowded marketplace for productivity and collaboration platforms, Coda attempts to stand out by working well with others — it offers more than 600 integrations. It also markets itself as a flexible platform, customizable for a wide range of use cases. Now that every knowledge worker is trying to figure out the best way to leverage AI, Coda is making the same pitch for Coda AI, its own intelligent work assistant, first unveiled in June.

With today’s release of Coda 4.0, the platform is offering a well-developed AI assistant that it says knows more about your business than any other AI tool out there, thanks to all of Coda's integrations. The AI tool was also deliberately built into the core product — at no additional cost for paying customers — with the intent of letting customers use it in whatever way they need to. Lane Shackleton, Coda's chief product officer, explains:

We're in this interesting time in the AI space where everything's moving really fast. And knowledge workers are trying to figure out how to use all of these incredible tools that are coming out, but there's a bit of fragmentation of these tools. You have things like ChatGPT, and then you have 100 other longtail tools that are being introduced in businesses.

Our perspective is that as businesses — or as people inside of these businesses — really try to make use of these tools, one of the best places for them to do that is inside of the tools they're using every day, which already house a lot of their knowledge. That's oftentimes documents, places where they've written things, places where they've recorded a bunch of tasks, or a bunch of core work that they're doing.

Shackleton is describing all the kinds of places Coda can be. Launched to the public in 2019, Coda is an ‘all-in-one’ collaboration platform that incorporates documents, spreadsheets and applications. The idea is that knowledge workers can consolidate a project from dozens of applications into one platform. A salesperson could use it to formulate a sales plan, or a product development team could use it for design and engineering. Shackleton adds:

We even have a really small business that runs a compost farm on Coda.

More than 40,000 teams are currently using the platform, which has a self-service free tier. It's resonated the most with fast-scaling tech companies like Uber and DoorDash. Given that Coda tries to offer a bit of everything, it effectively competes with just about everyone, from Google and Microsoft to project management tools like Asana and Monday. For many customers, Shackleton says, it's not a question of picking one or the other, but ensuring that the tools work well together — one of the big themes of the new release, which adds two-way sync with third-party apps such as Salesforce, Google Sheets, Jira and Github.

Coda AI capabilities

The latest iteration of the Coda platform comes with three main Coda AI functionalities, starting with its ability to serve as a writing assistant. Shackleton explains:

You can have AI comment on your document as if it were just another viewer, and you can prompt it lots of different ways. So you can say, 'Hey, read this as a copy editor.' Or you could say, 'Read this, and comment on everything that you think is really insightful.'

Its second functionality is as a knowledge assistant. Coda promises the tool is "permissions-compliant" but "contextually-aware," able to access all of the same information across an organization as the user. That could include any enterprise data from integrated applications like Salesforce, Slack, Figma, Miro or Jira. Shackleton says:

If you want to ask it a question around, what's the team working on? It's not just going to pull from the page that you're looking at, or some small bit of context... [It] actually can give you both specific answers and really general answers.

The third element of Coda AI is serving as a task assistant to help complete mundane work. For instance, if you had 200 pieces of customer feedback that you wanted to categorize as positive, negative or neutral, you could accomplish this in a couple clicks.

Coda’s generative AI features use OpenAI, but enterprise data is not used for training purposes. The company says it continues to evaluate other models for future use.

Other updates to the Coda platform in this release helps it serve as a single entry point to information and functions across an organization — what Coda calls a “single source of truth’”. This includes two-way sync for editing data in applications such as Salesforce and Jira, the ability to embed live pages from other apps as a tab in a page list, and ‘sync pages’ of content that can live in multiple Coda docs.

My take

When Coda launched in 2019, the market for collaboration tools was quickly growing -- and then the pandemic sent it into overdrive. Hybrid and remote work have made digital collaboration more critical than ever, and Coda's ability to win major customers in a hyper-competitive market speaks to the value it offers. The market environment, however, is changing. Interest rates are back up, and business customers are rethinking all of the tools they may have previously invested in. Vendors are looking for ways to add value with AI, and Coda's ability to integrate a flexible tool without any added cost could be enough to keep paying customers happy.

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