The LiveTiles Lean Methodology:
How to MacGyver Your Way to Success
Industry: Customized Digital Workspace
Challenge: Integrate quickly without having two developer resources completely dedicated to integrations
Solution: Cloud Elements pre-built integrations: Cloud Storage, Marketing, CRM, and Finance Hubs
This story was first published on Upshot.
Need to build a startup with limited time and resources? Check out how LiveTiles uses Cloud Elements to expand our Digital Experience Platform (DXP) with minimal development resources and meet customer demands in only two weeks.
Startups are like Macguyver, they just need flexible tools and a way to keep it all together. You have to move fast and often work within tight constraints, both in time and personnel - escaping tense situations and relying on your friends (and perfect hair) to get you on to the next scenario.
"Startups are like Macguyver, they need flexible tools and a way to keep it all together."
- Erik Ralston, Chief Architect at LiveTiles
The Business Case for Doing More With Less
LiveTiles is basically a visual arsenal equipping people to make their own digital experiences while integrating content they already have. We’re built on SharePoint and Microsoft Azure, and while we already had the ability to reach into Office 365 OneDrive and SharePoint’s document library, I knew we needed to be omnivorous in our approach to support all technologies. Because while we’re providing the toolbox, our customers are actually building a house.
Our desire is to support as many other platforms as we can as quickly as possible, but integrating into every possible API would cost us time and resources we just don't have. Remember the point of working within your constraints? Our customers look at us as a one-stop shop, so when we began searching for ways to offer one integration to support many cloud storage platforms—Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.—we knew we didn’t want to start from scratch. We wanted to stand on the shoulders of the giants before us and leverage all their hard work for our needs.
Think Like a Startup
To give a little context, as anyone who’s met me knows, I’m a huge advocate of community—I have to be. Based in a relatively small town, I understand firsthand the importance of expanding my knowledge base and resources beyond the borders of Tri-Cities. In the scope of the startup world, we’re nowhere, but everywhere is somewhere when you’re on the internet.
When I co-founded a coworking space (Fuse) two years ago, it was my aim to bring together skills from every field so startups could benefit from the cross-pollination. To date, 60 companies and 200 hundred jobs have been born in the ecosystem of this space. That may not sound like a lot, but in an economy where only 2,800 jobs are created a year, a 7 percent impact with only a handful of volunteers and basically no budget is a huge deal. That’s the power of community, and that’s what LiveTiles is built upon.
"If you ever need to learn something, figure out if somebody already knows it."
- Erik Ralston, Chief Architect at LiveTiles
The LiveTiles Lean Methodology
My goal at LiveTiles is to make a DXP that takes all of the ecosystems in which people are already connecting and bring them together under a single, visual, branded pane of glass. I want these connections to happen in real time through a seamless, single API, but to accomplish this roadmap with equal lead time and functionality that Cloud Elements offered would’ve taken two dev resource completely dedicated to integrations and one dev making the tiles.
By leaning on the existing Cloud Elements integrations, we’ve saved those two dev slots and can allocate those resources into other areas of the business. Outsourcing this element also fit in with our startup mindset. In a startup, you want to do things in an on-demand, slightly experimental fashion. Cloud documents is just one piece of our long-term vision, which includes integrations with marketing, CRM, and financial tools, but by offering customers the cloud documents integrations, we can test the waters and prioritize based on feedback.
One of the signature things about the LiveTiles customer experience is every two weeks we push out a new release, so our customer’s DPX is constantly growing and increasing in value. With the centralized management of Cloud Elements, we can create any new tile in only two weeks. The API already exists, meaning zero lead time, so we just have to figure out the details, like what the tile should look like.
This gives us the ability to respond to customer demands and meet their requirements even before they can put together the proposal to greenlight the initiative. By the time they’re ready to begin, we’ve already made the tile and have moved on. That’s the definition of lean.
Community Is Everything
When you move at this speed, however, you want a technology partner who can keep up. Just a couple of weeks ago I was doing a security review with Nike and a few questions came up that needed answers—and fast. I reached out to my Cloud Elements customer success manager, Tom May, and got the answers I needed to continue the process with zero hassle or delay.
"Startups are made up of four things: time, energy, talent, and money."
-Erik Ralston, Chief Architect at LiveTiles
Even before we began our official partnership, when we were developing our lean roadmap, the Cloud Elements technical sales team sat down with us at an offsite in Seattle and worked side by side with me to ensure all our needs were met. Beyond the hands-on support, they offer interactive documentation that gave me the confidence that people with different levels of expertise within my organization would be able to get up and running with a minimal learning curve.
In the startup world, many people are self-taught and may not be experts in every technology across the full stack, but with Cloud Elements, we’re confident that no matter the background of the developer, they have the tools they need to be successful.
Minimum Investment, Maximum Return
Startups are made up of four things: time, energy, talent, and money. Everything is being stretched as we trying to minimize investment and maximize return. With our partnership with Cloud Elements, we’ve been able to grow the one resource you can never generate more of: time. And that relationship has allowed us to turn our flexible tools and roll of duct tape into a thriving business.