FORMS --- Everybody Wants ‘em … I’ll bet you do too

Van Halen - Diamond Dave at the height of Spandex ConsumptionEverybody Wants Some … I Want Some Too!

This is a classic line from a Van Halen song and it’s truer than ever.

Not just for the consumption society we live in today. Also, for the software and apps lifestyle we live today … and we expect the apps to adapt to the way we work and play.

Everyone wants their mobile phone to be an extension of their work and personal lives. Almost everyone has Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive or some other file sharing service connected to their desktop and mobile device. Some of these EFSS vendors are beginning to think very seriously about forms and forms based solutions and integration.

Forms Aid Productivity

Below is a list of a few things that everyone looks for when they want to be productive. Forms need to be Mobile, Simple and Integrated. These three features along with those listed below are very true with forms based solutions. Everyone wants (or will eventually realize) they need the following features and functions.

What did I miss? Add a comment with your thoughts on Forms.
As mentioned below there is a lot of headroom to grow in this space.

Forms are here to stay. They span every industry and every business. Every application has some sort of form based interface --- no matter how poorly designed and implemented.

There is a lot of room for improvement and growth with forms.

This is why I think we are seeing so many ISV’s, EFSS vendors and Platform Providers (think SAP, Oracle, etc.) adding forms to their offerings and why we will see a few startups pop up to fill more than a few niches.

Some of the Key Features of Forms Solutions:

  • Mobile – This is obvious and a requirement. The underlying tech is not as important as the ability to be able to adapt a form from device to device and platform to platform.
  • Quick – Responsiveness is a requirement. People don’t have the time or patience to wait for a detailed or otherwise complicated form to load.
  • Connected (and Disconnected) – It almost goes without saying that every form needs to be able to work online. However, the latest trend is to insure these same forms work when there is no connection.
  • Data Connections (aka Integrated)– The ability to connect to other Line of Business (LOB) solutions is becoming increasingly necessary. Fortunately, it’s also becoming a lot easier. However, there are caveats that need to be considered related to governance and access. (Perhaps the topic of another post).
  • Simple – I alluded to this with the quick point. But, simple adds another element. Simple is just that. It needs easy to design, develop and deploy forms based solutions.
  • Re-Usable – This is a bit more of an esoteric concept. Forms that have been designed and deployed all have one thing in common. That is … someone wants to make “just one little change” and this is where re-usability comes in. There needs to be a way to allow for the quick and simple capabilities to be added to the process to create re-usable forms solutions.

Everyone Is Building Them, but who is doing it right?

Unlike the data storage business (aka EFSS) this is NOT a race to the bottom. What this tells me is that there is room to grow here. Very much like workflow there is no “right” way or “only” way to build forms.

WIIFM & Change Management

This is why Change Management will be a big part of forms solutions. Not just the change management for the various incarnations of forms. Although this is a critical element that will determine if people use forms more than once. But, also in the sense that the employees, vendors, partners and customers need to know how, why and what is in it for them. The WIIFM factor will come into play.

What’s Happening Today?

Microsoft has forms based solutions that have come and gone with SharePoint and an attempt with Excel Survey, Google with their Google Forms (which is quite good), SalesForce has partners, Box and Dropbox also have partners and, of course, Microsoft has a whole partner ecosystem.

There are simple forms based add-ons and there are more complex solutions that require integration and expertise. My prediction is that those with the simplest solutions will win. Ease of use leads to ease of adoption.

Talloo, a relatively recent entry into the CRM space (founded by industry veteran and pioneer George Seybold) has a new Forms solutions. The details and demo are here. I like what they are doing. Simple, functional and integrated. Three key pieces to the forms puzzle.

Forms are here to stay. Forms are a growth business. Forms may be the “workflow” of the 21st century. Where workflow had a lot of buzz in the last 20 years the next incarnation of “gotta have it” solutions might just be forms.

What do you think?

  • Are forms passé ?
  • Do Forms play an important role in your business?
  • If you had a better forms solution would you be more productive?

Drop a comment here and let’s start a conversation.

Heck … let’s start a Forms Business!

Perhaps we’ll call it FormAid and host concerts and revivals around the world … who’s in?

image credits: Van Halen


Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently the consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances.

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@jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ He is active in the Microsoft Partner Community and is the co-founder and President of the IAMCP Seattle chapter.

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