rolls out app framework to connect work across the enterprise

Profile picture for user pwainewright By Phil Wainewright June 30, 2020
Up-and-coming digital teamwork platform rolls out an app framework and integrations in its quest to become 'the WorkOS for enterprise' image custom views

Look beyond the leading names in digital teamwork and you'll find a variety of up-and-coming players in what is still a highly fragmented market. One of the largest of these fast followers, with over 100,000 paying business customers, is, which today released its new low-code app framework, now out of beta after its initial launch earlier this year. boasts some impressive logos as customers, from established names such as General Electric, Universal Studios and Walmart, to digital and tech stalwarts such as Adobe, HubSpot and Uber. The company says it recently reached $150 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and has raised $234.1 million in venture funding, with a multi-billion dollar valuation. It has offices in Tel Aviv, New York and Australia.

Like many other digital teamwork ventures, has its roots in project management. That's reflected in its structure, where workspaces are called 'boards'. But nowadays it positions itself with a far grander mission, describing its platform as "the Work OS for enterprise." The new app framework, which also includes integrations to third-party collaboration tools and other applications, plays a big role in that mission, as Matt Burns, Start Ecosystem Lead, explains:

The mission of the company is making sure that everybody is communicating and collaborating in context ...

'Work Operating System' describes being able to use the building blocks of our system to create workflows that transcend project management and task management, and really encompass the whole business. So that's why we're really excited about the apps framework, in particular.

Connecting teams across the enterprise

At diginomica we talk about the concept of a collaborative canvas that connects up the various digital teamwork tools in an enterprise, recognizing that different teams choose tools that match their particular breed of teamwork. That may revolve primarily around in-the-moment messaging, collaborating on content, specific applications, or workflow around a shared task or project. wants to be the platform that connects all of these different teams across the enterprise, says Burns.

When you use all those tools, we want to make sure that those things are connected and seamlessly integrated — being able to create a workflow or work on a task, or connect with a customer in a relationship management system....

With all the different tools that teams are using these days, what's really important is that there's a centralized place for that communication and that collaboration.

Various examples of how customers are using the app framework have surfaced during the beta. One large enterprise with tens of thousands of users is a good example of the proliferation of tools, with almost 800 different tools and applications in use. It has built a workflow that connects the information security team to the IP patents team, says Burns. Another has connected into an internal machine learning capability, so that users can upload financial documents into and have relevant data parsed out and returned to them moments later.

Apps can either be used privately within a single organization, or shared with others. One that has built itself and made available to customers is a 'working status' app that is particulary relevant to the current surge in working from home. It allows team members to indicate when they're unavailable due to breaks, meals, or attending to family matters, and then presents the results in a visualization so that people can see who's available and can co-ordinate breaks. Burns says:

Instead of asking people constantly where they were and what they're doing, I think in these times, especially, something as simple as data visualization about where people are at and what they're doing is really powerful.

Integrations to bridge the gaps

The most common integrations are automating workflows around Gmail, connecting into finance applications such as Xero, or tracking the status of support tickets in Jira or Zendesk. The ability to get visibility into another team's core tool is an important use case, says Technical Success Lead Dipro Bhowmik, because it helps to break down those teamwork silos:

If you're not using that tool every single day, then you might not have visibility into everything that's going on in that tool. And so the way that we see integrations is by bridging those gaps and making sure that your 'canvas', to use the term that you use, is flexible enough to translate the needs of teams across what they do, where they work, and how they work.

A lot of the integrations that we find very successful are integrations with email, integrations with siloed tools like customer success tools, or customer experience tools. also integrates with video conferencing tools such as Zoom, which can be accessed instantly from within a board in and connect all the team members in context. That's an example of where provides more structure than a messaging tool such as Slack, Burns suggests:

Things like that happen inside of where they're core and they're centralized around a person, a project, an initiative, something like that. So it keeps all of that information in context.

My take

For a long while, digital teamwork has been highly fragmented, but some sense of what's needed is now starting to emerge. That's leading to a significant convergence of capabilities. Whether a tool has its origins in messaging, content, projects and workflow, or even specific applications, vendors are all starting to add integrations and low-code app building to facilitate connections across different teams and working styles.

This gives every vendor with a significant enterprise presence an opportunity to present itself to its customers as the digital teamwork platform of choice. No one has this figured out yet — as I express it, everyone is still building out the unique collaborative canvss that best suits their organization. Starting with the tools you're already using generally makes more sense than ripping it all out and starting again. So a vendor like can indeed pitch itself to customers as the ideal Work OS. Trouble is, every other vendor is doing the same — although not calling it that. And then it becomes a race to see which vendors are left standing once the market shakes out. We are still nearer to the beginning than the end of this process, which gives as good a chance of surviving as anyone else with its kind of footprint.