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Some companies want to be a "platform", because… they just want to be platform 🤔.But how to do it?

Some companies want to be a "platform", because… they just want to be a platform 🤔.

But what does becoming an actual SaaS #platform entails?

💬 We discussed Asana's platform journey with insightful Sharrifah Lorenz, CFA who led #partnerships in Asana, Loom and now Census:

📈 Building partner integrations

Slack had built all of their original integrations, because they wanted to prove out the model of Slack being a platform. And once they started getting traction, they reached out to other partners to take over the integration.

This happened when I was there [in Asana]. And it actually caused a lot of friction internally, because some people said we should build it. Some people said we shouldn't. If you looked at the usage - it was fine, but it wasn't great.

👀 Then there was this question of is it not being used widely, because:

No one wants it?

It is not built well?

People don't know about it in the first place? ...

🤝 Platform value creation and exchange

When you're a smaller company, you pretty much always are the one to build. And the value exchange really is we’ll build the integration with Slack, the bigger company, in exchange for exposure to their users. Whether that's in an app marketplace, through formal marketing, co-marketing, or something else.

And in the beginning, we built a lot of integrations. And it was very challenging to figure out how to sequence them, to figure out what the value was. And to really show, hey, integrations make sense and here's why.

🚀 Now as Asana grew, Asana itself became more of a platform.

And when I left a year and a half ago, there were in-app entry points for third parties that never existed before. And now it's our turn to give exposure to smaller companies that are willing to build, so they could then be exposed to our user base, our customers, etc.

But it's still the case that, no matter how big Asana gets, Google and Microsoft, they're all going to be bigger. For those larger strategics, we're always going to have to continue to maintain them.

💰 Showing value

There are a lot of stats, Slack actually has put out many of them that show the value of having integrations as far as customer retention, stickiness, and engagement.

And we really look to that to understand what is the profile of a customer that has one or more integrations installed. Are they stickier?

Turns out they were, because we were able to use the integration to get our own app more deeply ingrained into their workflows.

💡 Will Asana become a platform?

I can see Asana being a platform. Our view is that all work starts at a project level. Our product is built around projects and tasks. The answer is YES, I do think as work management continues to increase in penetration across organizations, it will and it can become a platform.


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