In the cloud, sweet is better than suite

Today I’m speaking on a panel at Boxworks titled “Secrets of Silicon Valley: Enterprise Software, Silicon Valley’s Surprising Star”, along with some of our favorite SaaS startups GoodData, Okta, and Zuora.

My friend Aaron Levie (@levie) at Box is the poster child for the new enterprise. I won’t bore you with Zendesk’s take on social, mobile, and cloud, because it won’t be as entertaining as Levie’s, but I’d like to talk a bit about how the cloud makes partnering super simple for us and other software companies.

The same principles that make enterprise software cool again can also make partnering cool again:

Product = Experience
At Zendesk, we strive to make our product as easy and intuitive to use as Facebook. This is true for our core features like ticketing and customer management as well as extended features we deliver through our partners. Using Yelp, Twitter, Instagram, and Farmville through Facebook is seamless – as a user you don’t think about it, you just click a button. We want to do the same thing when you extend Zendesk with JIRA, Box, Harvest and MailChimp. For instance, we package GoodData embedded into Zendesk with our Plus and Enterprise plans at no cost. The starting point isn’t a BI integration or a blank report builder, but pre-built dashboards with relevant reports and metrics that are fully customized. Experience matters.

Build for users, not buyers
We all know how soul-crushing it is to find out after a drawn-out sale that a product doesn’t do what was promised. Zendesk offers a free trial in order to be transparent before our customers choose Zendesk. After all, you should know what you purchase. We also believe that partner integrations are a core part of the whole product experience. We encourage customers to integrate early and often. Our forthcoming Box app for Zendesk is a good example. It’s designed to make it simple for customer support agents to search and find the docs that they’re allowed to see, and add them to support tickets in one click. We love our new Box app because it makes it easier and faster for agents to better engage with their customers by putting the right information at their fingertips.

APIs are king
What powers this ability to innovate and partner are open APIs. The best software companies of the future are investing in APIs and app frameworks that are as good as Apple and Google’s. You can tell the companies that are serious by seeing the effort they put into their APIs. At Zendesk, we decided to rewrite our core APIs from the ground up, as well as develop a new apps framework that treats integrations as first-class citizens in our UI. Most importantly, we built the new Zendesk on top of the same APIs that our partners and customers use to extend our product. This matters.

So what does this all mean for the enterprise software market? Every generation, the pendulum in business apps always swings between best-of-breed and packaged suites. Innovation comes from best-of-breed software, but at some point, the cost of integration makes innovation too expensive for companies. The result is 85,000 attendees at Oracle Open World and Accenture with a multi-billion-dollar SAP practice. Our challenge as innovators is to keep the innovation cost as low as possible for as long as possible to avoid this fate in the cloud.

Learn more about Zendesk and Box