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In the post-pandemic future of work-from-anywhere, will our desktops, tablets and phones become de facto reporters of how well we perform our jobs? We’re not anywhere close to this yet, but the spread-out nature of how work is getting done here in 2022 may be begging for closer and more automated supervision of the workforce, which some managers undoubtedly will want to investigate. That intelligent supervision will certainly include extensive use of AI and ML.
One of the first tools to use some of this functionality may well be San Diego, California-based ClickUp, which makes a customizable, SaaS-based workplace productivity platform that serves all departments across an organization. ClickUp’s API enables any work application to be downloaded to it so that teams from various corners of an enterprise can use them together on projects.
ClickUp’s news today is the general availability release of its new Whiteboards function in the platform, something that its founder says sets it apart from competitors such as Slack, Wrike, Hubspot and Asana.
It’s the kind of versatile tool – and potential portable supervisor – that WFH employees can carry with them anywhere on a tablet, phone or laptop. ClickUp claims that its Whiteboard is the only collaborative tool that enables all teams to turn real-time ideas directly into projects that integrate with their work.
“As teams move to remote or hybrid working environments, whiteboards have an essential role to play when it comes to collaboration,” CEO and founder Zeb Evans said. “The rise of collaborative whiteboard solutions has filled the void for how distributed teams brainstorm and conjure up ideas. With the global interactive whiteboards market expected to reach $2.31 billion by 2025, it’s clear just how popular these tools are.”
How analytics will be used for WFH professionals
While the platform isn’t quite ready for it yet, Evans told VentureBeat, ClickUp developers are working on the AI/ML-based feature that ostensibly would be valuable for management: analytics that log how often the device is used for work and what kind of work is being done. Quality of work is strictly for humans to judge at this time.
“I would say, at surface level, we can show you what work you spend the most time on, over a period of time,” Evans told VentureBeat. “So you can go to anybody’s profile and you can see what we call trending tasks that use machine-learning algorithms to know where you’re spending most of your time on work.
“A few months from now we’ll have some news about how this is developing. It’ll be more like AI/machine learning functionality being able to predict when work will be delayed and estimate how long a project will take over time. The value of using machine learning for things like being able to track productivity or measure productivity – we’re not there yet. But I think that’s the overall promise of where we want to be able to get to from a platform perspective,” Evans said.
Value of the virtual whiteboard
Unable to huddle around a physical whiteboard together wielding a colorful set of EXPO dry erase markers, teams are turning to virtual whiteboards, which have become popular during the pandemic, Evans said. These can be used for brainstorming, content creation, work automation, communication, project management and everything in between, he said.
“Teams would brainstorm, share ideas and map out projects – but often, these ideas and plans never made it past the virtual whiteboard,” Evans said. “The reason these ideas aren’t typically executed is that it would require a mess of other tools that are not only disconnected from the virtual whiteboard, but also from one another. It’s no wonder that workers are frustrated.”
Key features in Whiteboard
ClickUp Whiteboard includes:
Editing tools: Users add content to Whiteboards in a variety of ways, from drawing to text, shapes, notes, and even the ability to embed images and other media files.
Real-time collaboration: Users collaborate with teams from any location, see their edits in real-time, and track cursor movements for seamless interactions.
Tasks in Whiteboard: Users can easily add existing ClickUp Tasks into Whiteboards, find links between tasks, docs, and all other work, and create new tasks directly from Whiteboards and have them immediately added into their boards for execution.
Sharing: Users can share a Whiteboard with anyone across an organization.
ClickUp Docs takes any brand of document
ClickUp Docs, a key feature that also has been updated, can connect all documents used in any project natively in one platform, Evans said. This takes in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Open Office docs and others. Some of the 50 new features include:
Docs as knowledge bases: Users can view and interact with projects and tasks directly in docs and use them to organize all work by bringing them directly into the Spaces Sidebar.
Quick access & sidebar menu: A new area in docs that provides easy access to every feature within a document, including layers of customization and interactive features such as typography, cover images, header sections, stats, and page protections.
Focus mode: This automatically fades away all distractions and visually focuses on key sections, paragraphs, or sentences within a doc.
Relationships: Now you can see everything related to a doc, including related tasks, contributors, or other pages, all in one place right within a doc.
ClickUp’s business story
ClickUp’s business story is notable. The four-year-old startup jumped from a $4 million run rate in 2019 to one of $70 million (2021) in a mere 24 months. VP of Operations Aaron Cort explained it this way: a highly successful combination of product-led growth and organic marketing.
“It starts with the product experience — that was the No. 1 thing,” Cort said. “The founders were just obsessed with it; they’d release new features every single week for a long time, and that was what allowed us to get traction in a very busy marketplace in a short amount of time.”
Last fall, the company landed a $400 million Series C venture capital investment that gave it a $4 billion valuation. The funding round was co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Meritech Capital Partners.
Culture of new ideas
ClickUp has come out of nowhere to wrestle market share from larger, more well-known companies. Wrike, Hubspot, Monday.com, Microsoft To Do, Google Tasks, Evernote and Asana are only a few of the heavyweights competing in this space. Apparently some of them were ripe for overtaking.
“Platforms weren’t changing,” Cort said. “I won’t mention any competitors, but there were a lot that had been around more than a decade and hadn’t moved very much. We are centered on evolving the product, and everything else was layered around it.”
ClickUp sells a $5-per-month / per-user plan, billed annually that gives users access to task management software, docs, and wikis, chat, and integrations with a host of other popular tools.
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