Introducing the Superpowered Remote StackZach DeWitt | July 9, 2020
2020: A New Era of Remote Work
2020’s global pandemic has rapidly accelerated the economy into a new era of remote work. As of February 2020, 3.4% of Americans worked remotely. Four months later, more than 60% of Americans are working remotely. Companies like Twitter, Square, Facebook and Shopify are making permanent changes – allowing employees to work remotely forever. Other companies will soon follow. Every startup born April 2020 or later will be fully remote for the indefinite future.
COVID has not only accelerated remote work, but has fundamentally changed how we work. In a crisis-induced remote environment, the first problem to solve was virtual communication. Companies triaged by rapidly adopting communication tools like Slack, Teams, Zoom and BlueJeans.
The next wave of remote-work-related problems are harder to solve as there are fewer unstructured meetings and serendipitous conversations. In an office, workers can find immediate assistance if they have an IT issue. Managers can walk the floor to see what everyone is working on. Executives can gauge morale and guide teams when they get stuck. As work migrates from bustling offices to isolated living rooms, teams suddenly lack the assistance, visibility and direction that an office facilitates.
The stakes have never been higher. Employees feel isolated. Managers are flying blind. Executives struggle to align direction. Companies are demanding new applications and tools to combat the emerging challenges of remote work.
Superpowered Remote Work
The next generation of workplace applications is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and leverages data to improve the remote work experience. In most cases, these AI-powered applications (AI-apps) are able to provide a superior work experience than the office-based experience.
AI can sift through large amounts of behavioral data, identify signal, automate tasks and intelligently assist teams. AI-apps free up remote workers to spend more time on stimulating, knowledge-based work. AI-apps that provide automated assistance, increase team visibility and intelligently steer the direction of work are powering this new era of remote work.
Let’s look at the emerging AI-apps that are quickly forming the Superpowered Remote Stack:
Sales is the lifeblood of every company. Unfortunately, sales is one of the functional areas impacted the most by the shift to remote work. Normally, the social and competitive energy on a sales floor is palpable. Account executives (AEs) and sales development reps (SDRs) work the phones, shout when they close a deal and trade tips and industry gossip with seatmates. In a remote world, much of this competitive vigor, information osmosis and informal coaching is lost.
Gong: Gong connects directly to the source of sales conversations – raw email and call data – and gives sales managers and reps unbiased visibility into how deals are progressing. Sales reps love Gong because Gong becomes their virtual coach. Gong automatically transcribes their sales conversations and uses AI to give reps feedback such as: the best-performing reps wait to talk about pricing until the last minute of the call, whereas you typically talk about pricing in the first minute. Managers also love Gong because they can track rep performance in real-time while receiving data-rich progress reports on every deal.
SetSail: Traditional sales activity tracking and self-reported data from reps can be misleading, especially when measuring remote teams. Driving deal progress is what really matters. To accomplish this, SetSail not only collects and cleanses sales interaction data to save reps time but also utilizes AI to provide visibility into real-time deal progress by measuring customer behavior. SetSail motivates customer-facing teams using a unique micro-incentive model that intelligently rewards deal progress. This helps remote reps ramp faster, form better habits and close more deals.
Clari: Clari helps sales leaders manage remote teams by providing a real-time view of the entire business, transaction by transaction, territory by territory. Deal-level visibility, AI-powered pipeline insights, and predictive forecasting allow leaders to not only provide strategic coaching but also reduce risk and deploy resources against the highest value accounts and opportunities. Clari harvests and analyzes activity signals from dozens of business systems, including email, calendar, CRM, marketing automation, and others, giving sales leaders actionable insights, transparency across their entire team, and dialed-in forecasting. In short, Clari turns sales teams into finely-tuned, predictable revenue machines.
Product + Engineering
With sales velocity slowing as budgets are being cut, many companies are refocusing on product development. Product and engineering management have become increasingly challenging as engineers shift to working remotely. Engineering managers are struggling to track what everyone is working on and engineers are unable to collaborate and troubleshoot as efficiently as when they were sitting around a desk together.
Productboard: Productboard is a collaborative hub for product teams to collect and organize user feedback, develop a product roadmap and track progress. World-class product management requires creativity, collaboration and attention to detail, all of which can be impaired in a remote setting. Productboard is introducing AI-powered features that find patterns and insights from piles of user feedback data so that product teams can manage their ideation and road mapping process.
Amplitude: Amplitude is a robust product analytics platform. Amplitude tracks usage and behavioral data to help teams set product strategy, improve engagement, optimize conversion and drive retention. Amplitude uses AI to help surface patterns and insights from usage data and allows managers to monitor product health when working remotely.
Jellyfish: Jellyfish plugs into popular engineering tools like GitHub, Jira, Gitlab, Bitbucket, Google Sheets and Slack and uses AI to build a live map of what everyone is working on to track how projects are evolving. Jellyfish allows engineering managers to scale their teams with confidence as they have visibility into how the code base is evolving, who is driving it forward and who is getting stuck. Engineers tend to get frustrated when they don’t get credit for working on backlog issues and technical debt. Thus, Jellyfish helps improve team alignment, reduces the need for constant check-ins and improves productivity.
IT + Finance
Help desks, IT services and finance teams are overwhelmed with employee requests when working remotely. When working from home, users are frequently locked out of their computers and struggle to find and access the right files and systems. Traditional employee services are being stressed in this new model of work and smarter knowledge platforms and resolution systems are needed.
Espressive: Espressive is an AI-powered virtual support agent that automates the resolution of employee questions, issues, and requests for remote workers 24/7. Espressive increases productivity and employee satisfaction by helping remote workers seamlessly troubleshoot IT issues, while reducing help desk call volume by up to 60%.
Guru: Guru is an AI-powered knowledge management tool that allows workers to seamlessly surface relevant information for the task at hand via a browser plugin. Guru ingests a team's most valuable information and makes this knowledge base iterative, trackable, and effortlessly accessible. Guru empowers workers to find what they need when they need it, as if they were sitting next to their colleagues.
AppZen: AppZen is a modern expense and audit application. When remote, it is increasingly difficult for teams to both track and approve what employees are spending money on. AppZen monitors employee and vendor spend and uses AI to look for errors, waste and fraud. AppZen can also help teams reduce spend as cash management becomes more important during COVID.
As companies try to do more with less, the war for talent is intensifying. Successfully sourcing, hiring and retaining talent in a remote world requires new applications. As companies shift to identifying and hiring remote talent, hiring managers need to be more creative and adaptable. HR managers face new challenges with remote headcount tracking, performance reviews and promotion cycles.
Findem: As talent becomes more geographically distributed, companies will compete to find diamond-in-the-rough candidates. Before recruiting for a role, there are multiple steps that typically happen like agreeing on a job description, debating what qualities to look for and searching LinkedIn profiles. Findem uses AI to make talent search effortless by collapsing all of these steps. With Findem, a recruiter can simply point to an ideal candidate and Findem’s algorithms will surface similar candidates.
Lattice: After Findem sources the right candidate, Lattice helps companies develop engaged and high-performing teams. Lattice is building modern HR software for performance reviews, goal setting, benchmarking, feedback sessions and 1:1s. Lattice is introducing AI-powered features that help remote managers monitor employee sentiment and predict who might be at risk of burning out. A robust, intelligent HR platform can help companies navigate new workforce issues that arise when operating remotely.
ChartHop: ChartHop is an org management platform where companies can centralize, visualize and analyze all their people data - and use it to plan for the future. As companies hire more remote workers, it becomes increasingly challenging to keep track of headcount and all associated metrics (i.e. representation across gender and race/ethnicity). ChartHop is introducing AI-powered features that surface industry benchmarks, recommendations for team structure and flag when metrics are falling below targets.
As companies rapidly accelerate their remote work, there has never been a greater need for modern workplace applications. The emerging remote stack is powered by AI, supercharging teams by assisting with routine tasks, increasing visibility and intelligently directing work. AI-apps are not only improving remote productivity, but these superpowered apps are making workers happier.
If you want to discuss AI-powered workplace applications or if you are building something in the space, I would love to hear from you (email@example.com).
Wing is hosting the Wing Remote Stack Summit later this year. The summit is virtual and is exclusive for tech entrepreneurs and executives. To request an invitation, send an email to Olivia Rodberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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