I spent some time recently talking to Ryan Nichols, former VP at Appirio and now heading up the apps division at Podio, a company that set out to allow people to build lightweight social apps for everyday tasks – the sort of long tail type applications that no software vendor is likely to think about. I was interested to hear from Nichols what opportunity was big enough to tempt him away from the amazing opportunity that Appirio seems to be.
I asked him to explain to me what Podio is, the way Podio uses to describe itself is that it is an online platform with a new take business apps. The idea is to allow users to create their own work tools and shape the way they work with no requirement for specific technical skills.
Part of giving users the ability to create applications on the fly is enabling mobile access and Podio is today announcing the release of their iPhone application to make those user-built apps mobile. That sounds really exciting but, like many of these situations, it’s seeing a case study that eally drives the potential home.
Here’s an example – Podio customer Atlas Blue runs a swimming pool maintenance and repair business in Kuwait of all places. To manage their workflow, they built their own app on Podio that shares all the details of each swimming pool they service. Today’s announcement sees hem able to extent that highly specific application onto the phones the field workers use.
Podio launched in march and is boasting of 200000 applications being created on the platform in that time – Nichols gave me a run through of the application, showing me a working example of an application that he’d built to manage the trip he’s taking to Podio’s corporate HQ in Copenhagen later this year – the platform seems super-flexible and, not surprisingly, the applications built atop the platform are really intuitive and flexible as well.
This sort of “citizen development” will become a growing trend going forwards as organizations and the workers inside of them demand to break free of inflexible and monolithic business applications. The video below gives a taste of just how empowering this sort of approach can be.