So, what is a Workplace Innovation Platform?

FileMaker, Inc. certainly has been firing on all cylinders recently to define the relevance of its offering to new users with its Workplace Innovation Platform category. There is a great introductory video (https://www.filemaker.com/workplace-innovation/) and there have been some quirky and tongue in cheek 'innovation without the hype' adverts (https://www.filemaker.com/workplace-innovation/films/).

It is worth digging in a little deeper to establish what this means and why it is an important move for FileMaker.

 Why now and who is the audience?

This is very much a campaign targeted at building brand awareness for new potential customers.  Existing customers know how powerful and flexible a tool FileMaker is and how it can be used for a broad range of industries.  However, it can be really hard to communicate the specific benefits until you have had quite a detailed delve into what a potential customer might use it for and given the breadth of uses, this is a significant challenge.

 FileMaker, Inc. has therefore taken a leaf from its parent Apple to solve this challenge by defining its market place category in new terms.  A solid overview of what category design means is dissected in the book Play Bigger (link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Play-Bigger-Dreamers-Innovators-Dominate/dp/0062407619), which is a great read regardless of your business sector and size if you are looking to grow your business.

 Key Market Drivers

1) The workplace has become increasingly dynamic in the modern world

People are no longer necessarily tethered to working from a single physical location with a fixed desktop computer.  In the UK, consumer and business landline broadband had only just started to roll out in the early 2000s.  iPhones started a mobile revolution when they were released in 2007. Mobile 4G went live in the UK to 98% of the population in 2015.  5G mobile services in the UK are already being trialled 2019.

 2) The Mobility Wave

Over the last 10 years, smart mobile devices have reached a population in excess of half of the adult humans in the world - twice the number of desktop workstations/PCs that exist.

 3) The IT skills gap challenge

Computer Science in the UK was the fastest growing subject for undergraduates in the UK according to 2017 statistics (https://www.hesa.ac.uk/news/11-01-2018/sfr247-higher-education-student-statistics/subjects) - with a 4% increase in enrolment numbers. Relative to the massive growth in the number of mobile devices, there is a huge shortage of skilled developers for the number of potential solutions that need to be built for mobile.

Category Confusion

There is a huge amount of noise in the IT development market place about how development tools are defined.  In the past, FileMaker has been positioned and labelled as being a 'Low-code' or 'No-code' development platform.  Equally, labels have been used such as 'High Productivity', 'Rapid Application Development' and the horribly indigestible 'High Productivity Application Platform as a Service' (hpaPaas).

 'Low-code' and 'No-code' imply that code is a bad thing to new customers. Conversely, young developers frequently identify with wanting to learn more about coding to improve their skills.  This neatly illustrates how confusing and unhelpful these categories can be.

 The Workplace Innovation Platform

This category accurately describes and defines what modern FileMaker is used for today and the future. It sees new potential customers as problem solvers that are trying to innovate new ways of working in their organisations. It can be expressed as the following point of view:

Technology has huge promise for helping organisations to be smarter, dynamic and innovative in terms of getting things done, but the reality is quite different. Most businesses using IT are surrounded by appliance apps which do key tasks like accounting, messaging and file sharing, but they are not tooled to be adaptable to help drive business change.

 Typically, the lack of synergy and integration of appliance apps leads you down a work rut. Problem solvers find that they have outgrown what appliance apps are capable of doing and so they aren't efficient to use.  There are plenty of signals for this, but some common patterns are:

·      Information is scattered between different systems.

·      Current processes are very ad-hoc and a lot of energy is wasted on mundane, repetitive tasks.

·      The rigidity of the technology locks you into specific apps only being accessible on specific devices.

 Clearly, the problem here is that appliance apps are simply not made for addressing the unique needs of your business.  If you have researched custom enterprise level ERP or CRM from larger global integrators, then you will be aware that the typically five or six-figure implementation costs of these solutions place these options well out of reach of the majority of small businesses.

 Problem solvers are the people with a mix of creativity to be able to envision how their problems might be addressed and the ability to develop their own ideas to meet these problems.  Businesses are set-up for success when problem solvers have the right tools to aid innovation.

 

Problem solvers need a Workplace Innovation Platform that fills the gap between appliance apps and enterprise systems - a tool which provides everything that a problem solver needs to address their own unique challenges themselves.

 FileMaker provides that toolkit to design and build custom apps for business, which can then be shared with teams regardless of where they work and on any device.  It can potentially integrate with both appliance and enterprise applications and it makes breakthrough technology widely accessible.

 Most importantly, FileMaker has a well-established ecosystem of learning paths for new problem solvers and an established community of experts for more complex problems.