Welcome to our new Workbooks blog!
The intention behind this blog is to keep everyone up to date with the progress of our business and our products. We might also use it to occasionally pass comment on our industry and the world in general.
The origin of Workbooks
Let’s start by giving you the background on the company and the people involved. We founded Workbooks back in October 2007 at Jenny’s kitchen table over coffee.
Four of us got together with a view to building a leading SaaS provider of business applications for the SME market. You might ask why would anyone create a business that competes with industry giants like Salesforce.com or Sage?
The answer is we were very frustrated!
The four of us had previously founded a company called BlackSpider Technologies. BlackSpider was an SaaS provider of email security solutions and when we sold the company in 2006 (to SurfControl PLC) we had approximately 2000 customers and 90 staff operating in 3 countries. Having grown the company from inception we were frustrated at the lack of good business applications for small and medium size businesses.
Like many companies we have purchased IT systems for specific departments, Sage for accounting, Salesforce.com for CRM. These standalone applications quickly became ‘islands of information’ which caused no end of problems for the business. For example all our transaction information (purchase order, invoices, credit limits, etc) were in Sage. This was great for the accountants, but meant that the sales, marketing and support folks didn’t have access to the information.
The accounts department rightly didn’t want sales and marketing people logging into Sage where they could create invoices and post journal entries! But in reality the sales team needs access to some key pieces of information, such as credit limits and previous transaction history.
Creation of our CRM system
So if a sales guy wanted to see how much a customer had previously paid, or if a marketer wanted to run a campaign based on purchase history the only way was to export data from Sage and import it into our CRM system. Then we had to try and ‘dedupe’ the data and the whole process became a real can of worms.
We wanted some joined up business systems which were targeted for the SME market. When we looked round the only products which were close were Oracle and SAP, however they came with a seven figure price tag and required a small army of IT staff to make it work.
So having sold BlackSpider in 2006 and having completed the 18 month transition period at SurfControl, we decided we could build an integrated suite of business applications that would be delivered online, so you wouldn’t need your own army of IT folks.
So here we are in February 2010, over two years later and having built Workbooks CRM and Workbooks Business, which addresses the problems I described.
Development of our activity
We made our first sale back in May 2009 and have been rapidly developing our product’s capabilities based on the feedback of our ever-growing customer base.
We have had lots of good ideas from people on how we can improve Workbooks, so we now have a feature list as long as your arm. We are continuing to roll-out new enhancements about every 8 weeks, so if you are a customer please don’t hesitate to drop us a note about what else you would like and we’ll do our best to include it in a future release.
We have a release of the product scheduled for early March and I’ll provide more details on what’s coming with the next few posts.