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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #8

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

The pandemic has accelerated growth for a lot of tech startups, but only the ones that build brand trust are likely to stick around. 🔥⚖️💪 Once the dust settles around GameStopRobinhood is going to have to deal with the damage done to its brand. Whether or not the company had legitimate concerns around liquidity constraints , halting buys for individual traders hardly lives up to the slogan “democratize finance for all.” For many fintechs, it will be a reminder that it’s much easier to prioritize customer trust and transparency than to rebuild after a disaster. 📈🏦🚒

Tech Innovation at Work

User interviews are crucial for software development, but only if testers go in prepared. Often, companies expect the user to come up with the solution for them. Instead, they should be figuring out what information would be valuable to receive. 🤔💡 This article  offers a great take. For instance, users don’t always know what makes a design good or bad, or what the purpose of a page is. 🎨📋   Instead of asking the user base whether they like a design in general, companies should pick up cues from how users respond to more specific questions. A design that feels “childish” might be an indication that the font or background is too colorful, and so on. 

Edtech has gotten a boost from pandemic demands. Last year, the sector was flooded with venture capital dollars. Compared to $4.7 billion in 2019, edtech startups around the world raised $10.7 billion in 2020. 📈🔥👩‍🏫   As the world gets used to video teaching, many are wondering what’s next in remote learning. 📹 Here’s an interview with 13 investors about the future of edtech startups, and what startups — and their customers — can expect in 2021. 🔮🤖   Trends to watch for include re-skilling, lifelong learning, and greater adoption of AI and modalities like VR. As the market matures, challenges will include demonstrating efficacy and building a brand customers can trust.

Nike has opened its latest small-format Nike Live store in Eugene, Oregon. 👟🛍️   Generally, the point of these stores have been to emphasize local design and unique neighborhood features. New assortments of products drop regularly, and this one offers U. of Oregon merchandise. To respond to the pandemic, these small-format stores also offer BOPIS and curbside pickup. They also provide digital services that work with the Nike app. 📱📶   This new strategy will help Nike move away from wholesale and invest in its digital, direct-to-consumer business. 

The Changing Workplace

This probably comes as no surprise: people don’t miss the hassle of commuting, but they do miss the separation between work and home that a regular commute provides. Thus, the idea of the “fake commute” has taken off. Employees are taking short walks or drives to recreate the separation between work and non-work. 🚗🚶🐕   For inspiration, here are a couple of workers who shared with the Wall Street Journal their “fake commute” routines. 

On a related note, the pandemic has launched a new corporate title — the “Head of Remote Work.”👨‍💻🔥  FacebookOktaGitLabShopify and many other companies have designed the role to help them navigate the long-term shift to remote work. Darren Murph, new head of remote work at GitLab comments: “This remote migration has exposed a lot of subpar workflows that have been a reality for a long time for many companies. Now they need a head of remote to fix all of that.”💪✅   Murph also observed that moving to remote work might help break down some outdated office dynamics, like focusing on “whoever dresses the best or who’s the loudest voice in the room.”

Undoubtedly, the shift to remote work will face many challenges as we transition out of the pandemic. According to a study by RBC Economics, only about 30% of companies who currently have work-from-home arrangements plan to carry on with them after the pandemic:

Finally, rail and bus agencies are discussing how to adapt the passes they currently offer. 🚎💼  New ticket types are pending in many cities to accommodate workers who commute only a day or two per week.  Revenue from travel cards for NYC’s subway and bus systems have been falling for some time. MTA board members are considering eliminating certain time-based passes. But transit advocates are concerned because riders with a household income of less than $50,000 accounted for 71% of 7-day unlimited and 47% of 30-day unlimited MetroCard sales.

All About Data

Each year, Okta processes millions of SaaS logins via its authentication system, and it releases an annual report on the most popular apps. 📈🙌🔍  Microsoft Office 365 was the most popular app across the board. However, app usage isn’t a zero-sum game. 36% of Microsoft 365 users were also using Google Workspace, 42% were also using Zoom, and 32% were using Slack. Here’s how app usage broke down: 

Graph (above and below): Okta Inc.

Of course, it helps to keep in mind that this is not a snapshot of SaaS generally, but of how Okta’s customers use SaaS. 🤔   Nevertheless, here are the fastest growing apps in 2020 according to the report:

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Patrick Donegan

Managing Director

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