The Cluedin Recursion

Today marks the one month milestone since we officially started Cluedin. It is an understatement to say how phenomenal the feeling is of constructing something from the ground up and where you can envisage the end product in your mind. Equally important, it is inspiring to work with distinguished people and just see things getting done – not talked about – done.

Cluedin is revealing itself more and more and as we continue to connect, enrich and bind information together we are ourselves discovering knowledge internally that is immensely interesting. Before we talk about that, I want to discuss something interesting that happened within just a month of starting the project.

I need to set some context. Startups are definitely the rage these days. I often find it hard to discern what is the difference between a startup and just starting a regular business – I assume that this is just a buzz word that has been associated to it. However one thing that has found its place within this trend is the idea of “be agile, deliver rapidly, iterate quickly, fail fast, innovate and pivot at any moment”. This is great and I am sure it is projected with great intentions, but let’s not forget that every action has a reaction. I would say that we at CluedIn are hovering on the border for following this ideologies, once again, with best intentions.  The teams experience has shown us time after time that it is also necessary to deliver some substance with every iteration as well. 

As engineers we are taught to abstract where appropriate, there is no way you can handle understanding or writing everything yourself. We embrace abstraction at CluedIn as well. From day one, we took the firm internal stance of focussing on what we do well and if there is a tool that solves one of our problems that doesn’t lay directly within our field, then we buy it and we use it. A simple example would be using New Relic to monitor our application health. Could we build something like this if given enough time? Probably. Would it be worth it for us? No. We don’t have an innate passion for that field and it is not part of our overall mission. Is it a great product that solves a problem for us? Yes. However one thing we noticed very quickly while building CluedIn is just how much we actually needed a tool like CluedIn to manage writing the application and hence the CluedIn recursion. Why? Because we were working across at least 20 different tools to manage our work. In addition, we each all had our own personal tools we used. Ponder for one moment, how much knowledge sits within these tools.

I vividly remember the online team Google Hangout we had, which was started from Slack, with our agenda in OneNote, of which I invited people via Office 365, for which people that were not online I sent an SMS – you get the point. I vividly remember that smile moment we all had when we realised “we need CluedIn to help us build CluedIn”. This is a fantastic feeling as it not only proves to us that there is a need for an application like Cluedin but also, it helps us guide our roadmap as well as to prove the applications value propositions, we aim to solve our own problems before we even start to solve the world.

To add impact (or even insult), we are in the business now of trying to solve problems like information silos, not “being in the know” and within a few weeks, we ourselves fell for the same trap that we were trying to solve for other businesses! Imagine how quickly this would happen to other startups? Well, I don’t know but I can only assume that the same happens but typically goes unnoticed as this falls outside their target mission. I guess you could say that like New Relic, we are trying to be that tool that just solves that one problem for you, so you can get on with your own mission.

Cluedin is definitely not solving all our problems yet, it is still early days, but more importantly we know that this is only a matter of time and hands on keyboards. I mentioned above, that we are already discovering insights that would have completely been missed if we took the regular approach of trying to keep up with the regular flood of information within our business. Without giving away too much and too early, we are tapped into our document management system which stores files, notes, mail and more. We are embracing a completely open and flat business where emails are open, conversations are open. Why? We strongly believe that this will instil trust in our culture internally but also there is so much knowledge within that data that can help the team understand what is going on in the organisation. Don’t worry, we don’t expect customers to open up this private information, this is simply a culture that we are internally embracing at CluedIn. It still begs the question of why it has become the status quo that we don’t want to share emails, chats and messages? 

It would be interesting for the CluedIn team to get some feedback on this topic as already we are seeing huge benefits from having such an open and knowledge driven environment.

Let me mention the Calendar insights that the team has already learnt only hours into enabling CluedIn internally. Seeing each others appointments in our news feeds are immensely insightful, especially when you can detect that there are duplicate meetings scheduled for completely different team members. This happened within the first 2 weeks of the project. When I saw this in my CluedIn news feed, I jumped over to Slack (one of the many internal communication tools) and used our #general channel to ask, “Can we merge these meetings?”. The answer from the team was simply “:)” – except Martin, who answered with head banger hands and doom guy face, but for those who were not able to translate, that means “yes” as well. In that one moment we just saved 1 hour. We had a moment of silence on the channel, I think everyone was having the same “moment”. Then the slice broken with a simple comment – “If I was using the paid version of CluedIn, that just paid for the monthly charges just with that one insight”

This is only the start. Once we make some breakthroughs in our intelligence engine we strongly believe that these types of insights will not only stream in but we can start to enrich the experience by e.g. suggest merging the meetings for you automatically. These are truly exciting times for us and for our future customers.  If you too would like to “be in the know”, you can register for an invitation here.

Tim Ward

Founder, Developer and Loudest Employee at CluedIn.