David and Goliath Image credit Pixbay/WaldryanoWhen Salesforce acquired Quip just before Dreamforce last year ET thought it was a move that might in time shake up the office automation software market. It is market dominated by Microsoft Office, one that Google Apps is trying and not quite succeeding to crack. Salesforce has now revealed its next generation of Quip and Microsoft might have to take notice.  Under the banner of “collaboration platform”, it might just take some of the market away from Microsoft Office.

Next generation office automation?

Salesforce has unveiled the Quip collaboration platform. Salesforce is the leader in the platform space and it has taken that knowledge and relationships to build embedded live Apps into Quip. Launching the new platform Salesforce already has several partners, including Docusign, Lucidchart and New Relic. It allows companies using Quip to embed applications including calendars, polls and Kanban boards into the collaboration tool.

Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip a Salesforce company (Image credit Linkedin/Brett Taylor)
Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip a Salesforce company

As well as new partners Quip has extended its core functionality to include workflow templates. These bring pre built documents and spreadsheets for specific industries, projects and functions to enhance the efficiency of business teams.

Bret Taylor, co-founder & CEO, Quip commented: “Our Quip Collaboration Platform is the first to bring communication, docs, spreadsheets and now real-time, live application information together in a single canvas. This is the future of team collaboration—the results are immediate and teams can be more nimble and productive without using email or switching between dozens of apps and  looking for lost files.”

According to IDC Salesforce has around 18.1% share by revenue of the CRM market in 2016. It is also growing faster than Oracle or SAP. A point that Benioff was keen to make in an interview with CNBC“You can really see we are crushing Oracle, SAP, Microsoft — it’s just across the board. We’re getting all these great wins in sales, in service in marketing.”

It still has a long way to go. If it can persuade more of its customers to adopt Quip and drop Office, it will have a better chance than Google Apps of denting the Microsoft dominance.

Innovation brings in Live Apps

Since last year Microsoft has played catch up with Quip. The latest version of Office allows some of the simultaneous editing that Quip already has. However, Salesforce has just unveiled Live Apps. It will hope that this will give it an advantage over Office, technologically speaking.  While Google Apps tried to replicate and improve on Office. Quip has innovated in a new direction.

Live Apps enables users to add active applications into each document. They include @Calendar, @salesforce Record and @kanban. Salesforce has also worked with partners to bring additional functionality into documents. Calendar assists users with event planning, though the press release was scant on details. Salesforce Record allows users to view, edit and update Salesforce records directly from within the Quip application. Kanban board provides the ability for interactive cards to be edited, or moved so that teams can work more effectively. What will be interesting with this last function is how the various PSA companies will take advantage of it. Can the solution integrate into project management tools?

Partners that Salesforce is working with include Atlassian, teams can now integrate direct with Jira conversations from within a document. E-Signature functionality is added with embedded Docusign features. Thus agreements and contracts can be drawn up and signed off when all parties concur. This could include a project plan for example, using @Calendar to plan key dates and @Docusign to sign it off.

Lucidchart brings @Diagram, bringing Lucidchart diagrams and documents into Quip. Components include flow diagrams, org charts, website wireframes and mind maps. New Relic provides real time performance metrics and analytics, enhancing the tool for use by software teams.

Workflows enhanced

Besides the integrations with third party software through API’s. Salesforce has also added templates specific to vertical industries. The templates bring together the elements that are needed to complete a specific task.  Initially, the workflow will be restricted to a small set that are pre defined. This will however expand rapidly. Initial templates include: new product launch, and mapping out sales. Those that Salesforce have not yet finished include: A Territory Planning Workflow Template for sales managers, a Launch Plan Workflow Template for marketing teams and a Product Roadmap Workflow Template for product marketing managers.

Salesforce has also improved the integration between Quip and Salesforce. Quip documents and spreadsheets now completely integrate into Salesforce. This allows users to attach Quip files to chatter, business records. Salesforce Files Connect for Quip is available today for Equip Enterprise users.

What does this mean

What is clear is that Salesforce has cleverly managed to bring a collaboration tool that other vendors can easily integrate to. It no longer needs to try and develop everything themselves within the app, which Microsoft has done with Office. This gives its customers the ability to choose the right tool for each task, rather than compromise. Arguably there are not yet enough third party applications embedded yet, but more should follow. Calendar and Kanban are available now with a Quip Business license for $10/month. An Enterprise licence costs around $25 /user/month and includes Workplace templates.

The software companies looking to deploy this solution and develop their software for it, may need to wait a little longer. Live Apps API is in beta currently. Interested software developers can find more information here. While Quip is unlikely to match the rich functionality of Office, most people use only a small subset of the software. What Quip is doing in this latest release if demonstrating it understands the process needs of the majority of business users. Salesforce is probably the leading platform for business software, with Quip now enhancing that in a new direction, it is going to be interesting to see how many companies take the plunge with Quip and replace most of their Office licenses.  It seems unlikely that Excel will be completely removed from organisations, with Accountants especially reluctant to relinquish their sophisticated tools.



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