On Joining Zinc, and the Opportunity Ahead
Why I Joined Zinc
Walking through the streets of San Francisco last month put me in awe of how Oracle and Oracle Open World does up the city. The size and scale of the event is monumental – the size and scale of the business is monumental. It’s the second largest software company in the world, and it’s in the middle of a company-defining strategic move to the cloud. It’s an amazing time to work there. And I left.
I left an amazing team, a market-defining product, innovative customers and a powerhouse company operating at a monumental scale. I left, not because I don’t believe, but because I wanted to work on the next monumental opportunity. Something that is changing the way people interact, changing the way people work, changing the way people communicate.
We Live and Work in a Mobile World
Yet most of the communication tools used for work today are lifted from the desktop era. Email comes from the desktop; phone conversations are mobile now but are so one-dimensional. These tools are functional today, but are still burdensome to use. On top of that, 70 percent of the workforce in North America does not work at a desk or a computer, but nearly 61 percent of North Americans have smartphones.
Communication at work happens in so many ways, through so many modes. One-on-one conversations where individuals can seek answers from trusted colleagues, or assign tasks; group engagement where a collection of people can support each other, solve problems together and share information; or the broadcast of messages and content that is urgent or highly relevant to employees. The lower the friction in communication, the more efficiently teams operate; the more connected an employee feels to their organization, the higher their engagement and the longer their tenure.
With frictionless communication comes the heightened need for security and corporate controls. Efficient, real-time communication is happening everywhere. It has escaped the confines of email, busted out of the break room and pushed its way free of the phone. Companies that don’t have the right controls in place have lost control of protecting their corporate information. In fact, most have already lost control though the swell of consumer communication tools.
The monumental opportunity we are working on at Zinc is the nexus of these points. There is a critical mass of mobile devices in the hands of almost any worker, with organizations needing to create an efficient and engaged workforce through frictionless communications, while remaining effective custodians of corporate information.
I was fortunate to experience the power of what Zinc could bring to a team while I was working at Oracle. When a group of us needed to deal with an urgent customer issue, all the needed people could be quickly brought into a group to resolve the issues. When someone needed a quick answer it was only a Zinc away; geography was erased, and waiting for an answer to a blocking issue was replaced by efficient and immediate solution. When we wanted to socialize and share stories about what our kids dressed up as for Halloween we could do that too – even if several time zones separated us. It brought a geographically dispersed team together both figuratively and psychologically. We created a conversational network that was easy, efficient, fun, secure and amazingly effective.
It’s Just the Beginning
At Zinc we have just started to scratch the surface of what we can do. We are on a quest to make any worker a connected worker. That does not stop at communications between people – this year we are setting our sights on connecting enterprise systems into the conversation network.
So much useful information is stored in enterprise systems today. Companies that don’t unlock this information and deliver a frictionless way for employees to access it will be operating at their own peril. With friction comes inefficiencies, with inefficiencies comes costs: wasted time, frustration and burned out employees. All costs that most companies can’t afford. From the simple question of “How many vacation days do I have left?” or “Can I switch my shift tomorrow?”, to the sophisticated “Am I on track to hit my utilization rates this year?” or “Can my patient take this medication?”, people need answers in the shortest time possible – ideally, immediately.
This monumental opportunity is real, it is transformative and inevitable. This is the reason I left I multibillion dollar company: to help build Zinc into the next multibillion dollar company.