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Twitter Buys Messaging Platform Quill, Microsoft and Adobe’s Productivity Partnership and More News

8 minute read
David Roe avatar
Microsoft and Adobe deepen their productivity partnership, Twitter looks at new offerings with Slack competitor Quill and more digital workplace news.

It’s been clear for a long time that Twitter would have to do something new to keep growing. The first sign that changes were on the way was the exit of Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and then CEO. The new CEO is the old CTO, Parag Agrawal. The significance of the change hasn’t been missed by anyone.

At his first public outing after taking the reins, Agrawal, as reported in The Verge, said his top priority is “improving our execution” and streamlining how Twitter operates. He explained how, in his previous role as chief technology officer, he focused on rebuilding the company’s aged technical stack so that products could be shipped faster.

And he is moving fast. Already he has reorganized the company under the key pillars of consumer, revenue and core tech. The company also announced that the company is buying Quill. In a Twitter thread, Nick Caldwell, general manager for core tech at Twitter, gave some, but not a lot, of insight about what it intends to do. He wrote:

Excited to share that today we’re welcoming @QuillChat to Twitter! 👋🏿👋🏿🪶🪶

— Nick Caldwell🔪🧼 (@nickcald) December 7, 2021

“We’re bringing their experience and creativity to Twitter as we work to make messaging tools like DMs a more useful & expressive way people can have conversations on the service,” he said.

The idea is to improve direct messaging, which was confirmed by Agrawal when he said “opportunity around DMs is really key … it’s a way you can connect with anyone in the world and expect to hear back from them.”

For its part, Quill will be incorporated into Twitter. A statement posted on the site explained: “Together with Twitter, we will continue to pursue our original goal — to make online communication more thoughtful, and more effective, for everyone."

Quill will shut down as an independent company, it said, and Quill users will be able to export team message history until Dec. 11, when the company turns off its servers and deletes all data. Paid active teams would be issued refunds.

It’s clearly too early to know where all of this is going. While Quill has been often compared to Slack, it doesn’t have the same reach and it is unlikely that it can turn Twitter into an enterprise communications tool any time soon. But Quill will give it better traction in a market that is currently dominated by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

The business market is clearly where the money is and Twitter’s focus on the consumer market hasn’t helped its development. Where this goes is anyone’s bet, but it’s clear there will be a lot more on this and probably very soon given the speed at which Agrawal has acted thus far.

Microsoft, Adobe’s Productivity Partnership

This week, San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft upped their productivity game by announcing a new partnership — on top of those that exist already — to enable deeper integrations between the companies' products.

With the new Adobe Sign integration, users will be able to negotiate and sign a contract from within Microsoft Teams, Outlook or SharePoint as well as review PDFs on mobile devices with Liquid Mode in Microsoft Edge.

In a blog post that focused as much on the future integration possibilities for the two companies as the announced one, Adobe’s Ashley Still, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at Adobe, said the objective of the extended partnership is to give employees modern tools to collaborate no matter where the team is or what device they are using.

“These deep product integrations allow people to do their best work by connecting the apps they use daily — from negotiating and signing a contract from within Microsoft Teams, Outlook or SharePoint, review PDFs on a mobile device with Liquid Mode in Microsoft Edge and more," she said.

This new initiative builds on years of work between the two companies on what Adobe describes as a common vision of the future workplace and transforming digital experiences. It is centered on embedding Adobe’s PDF, e-Signature and document automation capabilities in Microsoft 365, where businesses do most of their work. Together, Microsoft and Adobe file formats are the majority of business files, and no two companies are better positioned to affect the way legions of people work.

According to recent Adobe research, "The Future of Time," a third of the work week is spent on unimportant tasks, and a vast majority of enterprise workers (86 percent) and small business leaders (83 percent) report that unimportant tasks like managing files and business documents get in the way of doing their jobs effectively. As a result, half are working longer than they’d like.

The remote working world turbocharged the paper-to-digital transition. With Adobe Sign as the preferred e-signature solution across Microsoft’s product portfolio, the number of digitally signed agreements increased 17 times in the past two years, according to company figures. More than 180 million Microsoft commercial active users have access to Adobe Sign as part of their Microsoft workflows.

Learning Opportunities

New Report on Public Sector Digital Transformation

Meanwhile, in the UK, London-based Unit4, which develops enterprise cloud applications, has taken a look at the digital maturity of public sector organizations around the world. The survey of 600 public sector decision-makers across Australia, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, the UK and the USA, and was published in the "State of Digital Nation" report, show that despite considerable progress digital transformation is far from a done deal.

In fact, only 9% of organizations globally have achieved digital maturity as cost cutting, delivery delusions, manual processes and resistance to change hamper back-office modernization. The vast majority (76%) of respondents said they were either cautious followers or enthusiastic evaluators, suggesting there is a long way to go before digital transformation has reached every corner of the public sector.

There are also concerns about how ambitious public sector organizations are in their delivery timetables for transformation. On average, it will take 2.4 years in central government and 2.7 years in local government to roll out digital transformation across all areas of organizations.

The study indicates there are significant hurdles to overcome for digital transformation to be successful. A number of specific points stand out:

  • 41% said large improvements are needed in data compatibility in their organizations.
  • 16% said wholesale changes are needed.
  • 38% said data is manually entered by someone from paper to software systems.
  • 43% said data is manually exported from one system and imported to another.
  • A strong majority (86%) believe their staff don't have the right skills or training for transformation.

The research indicated the top three priorities public sector organizations are focusing on to improve processes and drive efficiencies are cloud migration (50%), data management tools (49%) and real-time reporting tools (47%), while artificial intelligence is the lowest priority (36%).

SnapLogic Improves Automation Capabilities 

New platform innovations enable IT and business teams to develop business-critical applications, workflows and microservices faster. That appears to be what is driving a series of upgrades San Mateo, Calif.-based SnapLogic announced to its Intelligent Integration Platform. The updates and enhancements enable users across the organization to embrace self-service development, integration and automation.

The improvements include self service for API consumers, enabling organizations to build applications and microservices faster and manage their entire API ecosystem more efficiently with upcoming support for third party APIs. The idea is that users will be able to build data products faster and accelerate analytics projects with support from data warehouse tools.

Combined, these will help organizations with a hybrid- or multi-cloud environment implement their enterprise-wide integration, automation and self-service visions. SnapLogic’s Flows interface has been designed to give business users what they need to embrace self service and build their own integrations and automations as needed.

SnapLogic is also adding pipeline extensions and new connections to sales and marketing endpoints such as Microsoft Dynamics for Sales, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Sharepoint. These connections will help business users build integrations within the new systems without IT needing to be involved.

Facebook Messenger Head To Leave

Finally, this week and just to show that the Great Resignation comes to us all, Stan Chudnovsky, the head of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook’s Messenger division, announced he will be leaving in 2022.

Facebook, now called Meta, has dealt with a wave of high profile executive exits this year. Deborah Liu, formerly the head of Facebook Marketplace, left in February to become CEO of Ancestry.com. David Fischer, who was chief revenue officer, announced his departure in March, as did Kevin Weil, one of the co-founders of Facebook’s Novi cryptocurrency division.

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