So what is the “moat” behind Smartsheet? And what makes their toolset so special? I just don’t get it.
We use it at our company ---- and seems like a nice enough tool…but I wouldn’t fight to keep it. We have our 2019 business plans in Smartsheet ---- and use workflow for our personnel to put regular status updates on their key initiatives. Again, nice tool, but nothing that we would lose sleep over if we didn’t have it. We could spin up a SF.com app to do the same damn thing or simply use Googlesheets (with no workflow). Also seems to me that if Microsoft added the workflow capability to O365, then that takes away even more from SMAR’s capability. Heck, one of you might tell me they already have it.
The use cases in their toolset seem like glorified spreadsheets that eventually just collect dust ---- like so many spreadsheets do. It’s not like TWLO, AYX, MDB, ZS that I can quickly recite the why behind their toolsets ---- and their competitive advantages.
I also get the fact that SMAR is growing like crazy, have a solid net expansion rate…even w some churn. I’m tempted to jump in and try the investment out just based on that + the fact that the few of you here speak so highly of it + our chief on this board has a position in it + the “follow the customers theory” ---- but I keep going back to my first few paragraphs.
Help me address my blind spots please. #temptedtofollowthecustomers
So what is the “moat” behind Smartsheet? And what makes their toolset so special? I just don’t get it. We use it at our company ---- and seems like a nice enough tool…but I wouldn’t fight to keep it. We have our 2019 business plans in Smartsheet ---- and use workflow for our personnel to put regular status updates on their key initiatives. Again, nice tool, but nothing that we would lose sleep over if we didn’t have it.
Hi Jay, Thanks for the excellent questioning. I hope that some of our smart tech guys have an answer for it.
High tech moat is always pretty much the same and it has two parts to it:
1- When searching for a solution you are more likely to buy the leader than the also rans
2- Once you have bought into the product, what keeps you in are switching costs. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I hope that some of our smart tech guys have an answer for it.
I hope that was not overly techie!
If SMAR is doing the job that needs doing then nothing is going to disrupt them other than a discontinuous innovation. A company is not going to suddenly say: “People, dump your Excel, we can do the with Numbers and save 20%!”
Alteryx, which is very premium priced, should a satisfactory open source product suddenly swarm the world may have issues but not a product at $300 a year per seat that provides so much value and everyone knows how to use it and has invested time in using it.
Disruption either comes from above or below. W Alteryx from below seems to place to watch (and I know of no such open source threat presently to concern ourselves, but that is where one should look for concern. No open source ever got to Excel either) but w SMAR how is open source going to do anything better as to price or performance, and what is it missing such that some higher priced product comes from above to displace it? Nothing.
So if your company says no more Smartsheet what will replace this necessary functionality that Smartsheets does so well? And is that replacement materially better? Cheaper? Have any other materially superior qualities? If not, and your alternative is to go back to ancient Excel? Then why keep working at such a back arse company to begin with?
Smar’s Issues are more winning the market mindshare than being dumped so people can go back to Excel for this functionality.
To me Jays post answers the question.
He lists a few different features that they are using it for across an organization. They could replace this one with that and replace this other thing we do it with that other service. And then if only company x had this capability.
Or you can keep using Smartsheet and forget all the coulda woulda shoulda and have it all in one apparently easy to use app.
Another point is that just because you don’t use a particular feature or a plug-in doesn’t mean that someone else in your organization or in other thousands of organizations don’t use or it or even perhaps live and die by it on a daily basis.
they did a really nice job creating a web ui for spreadsheet
better than gsheets imho and way simpler than o365 where msft tried to match functionality with the desktop version of excel
smartsheet feels responsive and can be worked from the keyboard
excel users can very smoothly start working in smartsheet - also better than gsheets
its got the right set of features that people need from excel without the bloat
but i think thats about the totality of the moat - they could get squashed like a bug on a windshield if microsoft decided to upgrade the ui on excel for office 365.
o365 already beats smartsheet on price:
office 365 personal license - $99/year - and that includes the other products
smartsheet personal - $168/year
…but for the moment, i’m long SMAR
I use Smartsheet where I work. When I first saw it, I didn’t understand why we didn’t just use Excel. It’s deceptively simple. That is the moat.
Anybody that has used Excel can use Smartsheet. I mean anybody, even the “can you help me save as a different file name” users.
I think by far the most frequent use case is simple project management. You have multiple people on a team and need to keep track of to do or timing,etc.
Next thing you know, you have multiple sheets, you tell new team members to get access and now the network effect kicks in and you have growing user base and some stickiness. You also need to track multiple projects and you find the dashboard and report features. This is where the potential in Smartsheet starts to get interesting.
Creating reports and dashboards is relatively easy. You might need the type of expertise level of vlookup. However, the sharing and publishing is already done. The dashboard live updates and has its own web address. If you download the app it’s there. This is a kind of low code aspect and where I think there is a lot of potential for workflow, reporting, connection and communication. Users can grow into it and create things you can’t do in Excel, but are not as difficult as other options.
Microsoft has introduced “flow” and it can do a lot of the workflow things, can connect to many things but has the typical Microsoft level interface. More powerful, more technical expertise needed. Remains unused and uninteresting.
The other moaty thing was also addressed in Jay’s original post.
“We have our 2019 business plans in Smartsheet”.
SMAR customers put their business plans in Smartsheet. For the next few months, for the next year, multi year projects, etc. Then start to work on them. All of that work and employee time is contained in the progress of those business plans contained in Smartsheets. As time goes on more resources are tied into and have been spent advancing those business plans using those sheets. Dozens or hundreds of sheets across an organization. To stop using smartsheets and switch to another vendor, or more likely several vendors to match the functionality, what happens to all of that progress on those projects?
If a business has started down the path of using Smartsheet, much if not all of that progress would be lost. To me, that is moaty.
To stop using smartsheets and switch to another vendor, or more likely several vendors to match the functionality, what happens to all of that progress on those projects?
Doesn’t the progress of those projects still exist, but you lose track of it if you don’t migrate the information?
Clearly there would be some time spent in switching, but if a business were to switch to another vendor, that vendor would probably have some way to import information from Smartsheet. Isn’t there much more of a challenge (or at least a higher risk of catastrophic failure) migrating from MongoDB or Elastic or Zscaler to another similar service?
With their revenue retention rate it seems like it’s a “sticky” product where people who use it like it and get others to use it. I just have concerns with so many competitors that it may be hard to continue growth long term. Is there any reason to believe this can reach Office levels of ubiquity (becoming the standard for project management) or is destined to be one of several options fighting for market share and gain wins based on specific use cases? Is this something that Slack or Dropbox or similar communication/collaboration companies try to offer?