Airtable exec describes the creation of a ‘data hub’ for the enterprise

Airtable has been praised for redesigning the core of office productivity software, the spreadsheet. But there’s more to the company’s low-code app than just replicating spreadsheet functions in the cloud, according to Ilan Frank, who recently left Slack to be vice president of product at Airtel.

Airtable combines the functionality of a relational database with an intuitive interface that allows users to plan a team project, manage a sales pipeline, and more. Its low-code approach enables a wide range of users to customize the workflow to meet their specific needs.

The app is often referred to as “like a steroid spreadsheet”, Frank said, although this description makes it less useful for business. “I don’t look that way at all.”

Ilan Frank Ilan Frank

Ilan Frank, vice president of airtable products.

What Airtable does, he says, is combining data from a variety of apps that act as a system of business records. This could be data created in Airtable or an external app, such as events logged in to PagerDuty, tickets in Zendesk, or territory maps in Salesforce. “We’re creating a data hub that unlocks all that slid data.”

One way to do this is through Airtable’s data sync integration, which can be used with Cumin Cloud, Box, Tableau and GitHub. Airtable plans to increase the number of syncs so that users can bring data to the platform and share it across their organization. The company plans to create an API so that developers can create their own agents to sync with external systems, and work is underway to create a data “marketplace” within the app, Frank said. This way, customers can share information more easily internally.

In a sense, he said, Airtel’s “data hub” approach has a parallel with Slack’s collaboration platform, which has proven to be a popular carrier for interacting with colleagues. “Slack is great for people to communicate with each other from a busy point of view,” he said. “Everything is there, it’s the best solution. But I think it’s also important in sections that are spread around the world for data.” [be connected]. And I think that’s where Airtable comes in. “

Launched in 2013, Airtable has attracted investors in recent years The $ 735 million funding round in December brought the company’s value to 11 billion and its total investment to $ 1.4 billion. The company claims to have more than 300,000 subscribers, including Netflix, Red Bull, and luxury goods company LVHM, and is used by about 80% of the Fortune 500. Its annual recurring revenue is over $ 100 million, and CEO Howie Liu is considered. Preparing for a public listing in the next few years.

Frank’s appointment is an indication of Airtable’s plans to target big business customers. During his six years at Slack, he led the firm’s enterprise into the enterprise and was involved in Slack’s creation of enterprise grid products, which helped recruit thousands of employees. Towards the end of his term at Slack, Frank worked for nine months as a product adviser at Airtable before moving on to the next firm. He advised several more companies to move from product-led growth to establishing a strong enterprise presence.

He noted the similarities between Airtable and Slack in their early adoption of small groups within an organization before it spread further. Airtable is increasingly being embraced by consumer organizations, he said, adding that “the same signs of maturity… where slack really began to be seen as a wall-to-wall tool by the C-suit.

“It was brought in by one team and spread to other parties, then finally some sort of IT or central technology company says, ‘OK, now everyone has access to the airtable.’ So it’s going to be a very similar market, ”Frank said.

This viral adoption, he said, is a distinguishing feature of Airtable compared to other low-code or no-code enterprise apps. “We continue to breathe a sigh of relief that the DNA of product-led growth is so easy to use and absorb,” he said.

“Unlike some enterprise platforms, we want to bring it down and make sure we meet the needs of end users, as well as the CIOs who will eventually accept it and roll it out from wall to wall,” he said. . “It’s thinking about both ‘user’ and ‘selector’.”

Angela Ashenden, chief analyst at CCS Insight, says Airtable has been “extremely successful” at the team level. This is especially true for small companies where it taps the growing demand for low-code alternatives that allow “individuals, non-technical employees to solve their own problems – often very specific to their organization or their team.”

Acquiring ground among larger companies represents another challenge.

“It tests the box for ground-up, viral acceptance,” he said “But it is always difficult to move forward with enterprise opportunities, not least because of the new security and compliance complexities at this level.

“Enterprise-wide shopping, finding the right stakeholders and convincing IT companies that this is nothing but shadow IT, will be a challenge,” Ashenden said. “Often there is still a need for centralized control and management, which is the method of creation distributed with jars.”

Microsoft’s list also notes many competitors with products, ranging from small players like Ashenda Koda and Asana.

“So Airtable must take time to gain serious traction and credibility in the enterprise,” he said, “but the injection of the company’s recent investment will undoubtedly play a key role in accelerating this drive.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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