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Smartsheet marches towards longer term vision in Fortt Knox interview

When CNBC’s Jon Fortt chatted with Mark Mader, the chief executive of collaborative platform vendor Smartsheet, the conversation touched on how taking a long term view can enable success through volatile times.

“You can’t avoid what’s happening in the moment or in the day, but having been with the business for my 17th year, you recognise that if you read and react to everything that happens every day you will run out of gas pretty quickly,” Mader said.

Part of his job at Smartsheet is to ensure the company retains that focus, to help people understand what a medium term or a longer term vision looks like, and to keep “marching towards that” to give people confidence, he said.

“It’s giving the understanding that things go in waves and as long as you’re continuing on a long-term upward trajectory things will be OK,” Mader explained.

CNBC’s Fortt regularly interviews thought leaders on topics like entrepreneurship for a business and professional audience on his Fortt Knox programme. The full interview is published on YouTube.

According to Fortt, the issue of navigating volatile market dynamics could be the toughest problem for large public companies like Smartsheet — not only from a product perspective but in a time of market and global uncertainties.

At the same time, Smartsheet has stepped in and succeeded in a market that many commentators might have thought was “solved” already by the likes of Microsoft — productivity software, suggested Fortt.

Smartsheet had rebounded and built itself up despite all that.

“We had changes in expectations, and we had different devices. I remember 2006 when people got their phones like ‘oh, this is going to be the answer, this is going to unlock everything’,” Mader said.

“Things continued to change, and part of what changed was people’s expectations.”

Neither moving mail from Exchange to the cloud nor storing docs in shared file repositories turned out to be the answer. People increasingly wanted real-time, not just static files, and be able to make changes in unison with the rest of their teams.

“Then that started to become the new norm,” said Mader. “So the notion of hooking files as attachments to mail — that’s a non-starter today.”

Meanwhile, Smartsheet has moved on to the “harder stuff” like automation and integrations — just at the time that business users are looking to move into higher value types of work, beyond simply tracking and sharing.

People nearer the frontline of the business, who may understand the business better, are increasingly able to contribute their knowledge and insights via newer digital platform technologies.

“That’s the exciting part — seeing business teams graduate to higher value,” said Mader.

A 2022 study by Forrester has confirmed the value that Smartsheet can bring to businesses — from managing projects and automating workflows to helping enterprises build and scale solutions.

Forrester Consulting interviewed decision makers across nine organisations currently using the Smartsheet platform — with overall benefits to the bottom line from the increased visibility it delivered.

Overall productivity, resource allocation and revenue gains included a potential for 680% customer ROI over three years, with payback achieved in under six months, as well as a potential net present value over the three years of $16.33 million (£13.54 million).

Other benefits include increased customer and employee satisfaction, improved decision making and accelerated time to market, according to Smartsheet.

Download the full January 2022 report from this link.

( Image by tomfield from Pixabay )

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