Trendspotting: Platform Ecosystems

7/15/13Follow @sramana

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maintain file versions and send multiple attachments within Cloud Drop via email through Salesforce e-mail templates.

But the Salesforce.com AppExchange, while the first, isn’t the only successful cloud platform ecosystem on the market. Google has its own cloud-based Marketplace, as well, and the Google Apps Marketplace has its own fair share of success stories in areas like workflow management.

Cloud-based workflow management in the Apps Marketplace is split between three different core capabilities and of course they overlap in some areas. First, there are social task management workflow products that perform ad-hoc task/workflow management where end users can collaborate. Podio, the category leader, was recently acquired by Citrix for $53M. Podio is free for the first five users and there after it costs $19/user/month.

Second, there is integration-centric workflow that allows IT teams to create workflows that integrate with enterprise systems and cloud applications. While these apps support human centric workflow capabilities like UI forms etc, they are designed mainly to connect various enterprise and cloud based systems. RunMyProcess leads this category. RunMyProcess was also acquired recently by Fujitsu for $21M. RunMyProcess does not have a free option, but it does offer a free trial for 30 days for 20 users. The paid version costs $40/user/year.

Finally, there is cloud-based structured human-centric workflow. This allows business process owners in finance, human resources, and other departments to create well-defined business workflows that require collaboration among employees.

SMBs are generally under-served, with the workflow management vendors generally chasing large enterprises. In the pre-cloud era, such solutions would cost anywhere from $100K to multi-million dollars.

Kissflow, a Google App Marketplace product, is addressing this gap.

Kissflow positions itself as a self-service workflow creation and management tool for small and medium business users. Kissflow is specialized for Google Apps users and is deeply integrated with various Google Apps products like Google Docs, Google Open ID, etc. It is also hosted on Google’s cloud. The Standard Edition of Kissflow is offered at a very attractive price of $3/user/month.

Kissflow is a new product from OrangeScape, a small company itself with just over $1M in revenue.

The beauty of this model is that Salesforce.com and Google have made available cloud platforms-as-a-service upon which entrepreneurs can rapidly and cost-effectively build businesses. Platform vendors take a percentage of the revenues for products built on their platform, and the ecosystem works well.

The same phenomenon is evident all through the technology ecosystem—cloud, mobile, social—and all over the world.

Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M), a global virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Follow @sramana

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