Make work awesome


August 14, 2013

Sol Lipman is the co-founder and Product Guy at startup Tomfoolery, whose debut product Anchor is a social app for work. In this guest post, he talks about consumer experiences crossing over into the business world and why this is the future of enterprise software.

The Michelada. Beer, lime, tomato juice, peppers, whatever. It's the fruit cake of beer.
The Michelada. Beer, lime, tomato juice, peppers, whatever. It’s the fruit cake of beer.

Not so long ago, an amazing woman named Kakul handed me her iPhone over lunch and said, “just read this.” It was kind of weird as I had just met her minutes earlier and it felt strange to sit in silence and read a document. But, she humored me by drinking Micheladas so I read it. The whole thing. I remember one thing in particular that made me take notice:

“Because work is life too.”

The document, titled “Project Blue,” was essentially a drawn out mission statement built around one painfully obvious truth: the apps we use outside of work are beautiful, intelligent and often inspiring. The apps we use at work are broken and banal. Why? We’re the same people – why aren’t there products that we love at work? If you’ve ever been forced to use a third rate mobile version of an already lacking web-based experiences at work, then you understand Kakul’s POV.

So, we started Tomfoolery Inc. with one goal: make work awesome through mobile-first, consumer-grade experiences. Our highest priority is the person using our product – a focus we share with most consumer products. We don’t see ourselves as either an Enterprise or a Consumer company. We just build products for people first; those people just happen to be at work. Make work awesome. This is the statement that guides us.

Why Now?

You can’t read a blog today without the mention of “the consumerization of the Enterprise.” Suddenly, it seems like every entrepreneur who has spent the large majority of their careers focused on consumer applications (like myself) is now zeroing in on this opportunity. People will argue that “consumerization of the enterprise” is a buzzy phrase that means very little. Up to now, I think that’s been more or less true. But, we’re all witnessing an unmistakable pattern enabled by a huge disrupting factor: mobile.

Whether it’s Evernote, Hightail or a smart calendar like Tempo, mobile applications are finding their way into our workflow. Why? Because these companies are building products that we love and for the first time we get to choose what we want to use. More often than not, we own our own devices and we tend to find software that makes our lives better whether we’re home or at work. To us, as consumers, it matters very little what the context is. If we can find a product that makes our lives better, we’ll try it.

Mobile is the Trojan horse that will lead to significant, lasting change in the workplace because we insist on using the products we like.  It’s that simple.  And really, no one can tell you that you have to use inferior products. Eventually logic wins.  Better products make us happier and more successful wherever we are. Control is shifting to the device you’re probably reading this on.

Are you reading this at work?

There’s an excellent chance that you’re working right now and reading this post isn’t just fascinating (thanks, I appreciate it), it connects somehow to your “work.” Similarly, there’s a better than average chance you’re reading this on off-hours.  What do I mean by “off-hours”? It’s a concept we used to have back before we had a super computer with a touch screen in our hands 24/7. It’s more and more often an outdated concept because the time-based line between work and off-hours has blurred to the point of invisible. We get a lot of work done on our mobile devices at all hours of the day.

We’ll be doing more and more work on our mobile devices. Once again control of your tools, particularly in the communication category, is rapidly shifting.

It’s not us against them – you’re just leading the way

From an IDG Report from last April about how businesses are responding to the crushing demand of mobile users in the workplace, we found some interesting statistics:

“Organizations are also seeing many positive impacts, including user satisfaction (82%), user productivity (76%) and business agility (70%).”

What does that mean? Mobile improves the bottom line. That means businesses will increasingly embrace the tools that work on them. This will continue to increase product development as hungry entrepreneurs like myself attack the market in the swing of this disruption. More entrepreneurs, more funding and more choices.