Bill Dobie, Founder & CEO of SEDNA tells us how they use this smart team communication software to unify all messages, data, and documentation to help companies focus on the work that matters.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bill Dobie: Thanks for asking. It’s definitely been a complex year for everyone, but one of the noticeable upsides of the pandemic for me is that people are taking a bit more time to make sure their colleagues and friends are doing okay. Personally, my husband works in the airline business, which has faced huge challenges, and he has not seen a colleague or been on a trip in over a year. For certain, everyone has faced so many unexpected challenges in the past year, and having empathy and understanding is more important than ever.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SEDNA.
Bill Dobie: I’m the Founder and CEO of SEDNA, with over 20 years of experience bringing technology and people together while creating opportunities for innovation and growth.
I’m a serial entrepreneur with a long history in the business of software and global trade. In 2000 I co-founded Navarik, a pioneer in the delivery of software as a service to energy companies. In 2010 I started Stage 3 Systems, which ran major software services for shipowners, commodity companies, and agents around the world. After working closely with customers to help them tackle the central problem they had in managing transactions over email, I started SEDNA in 2017. SEDNA enables its customers to manage and direct their transactional email flows in real-time—delivering huge value to end-users by cutting email volume, unifying processes, and intelligently surfacing relevant information.
I’ve been programming since the age of twelve, and while I don’t code much these days, my primary passion remains understanding a problem and then using design, engineering, and thoughtfulness to build great solutions. I currently live in London with my husband, Peter. You can also find me musing about the business of software and life in general on Twitter.
How does SEDNA innovate?
Bill Dobie: In a world where business communication platforms overrun people, SEDNA is a smart team communication software that unifies all messages, data, and documentation to help you focus on the work that matters. By aligning teams through action-based communication, SEDNA drastically reduces email volume and creates more efficient, productive, and collaborative workflows across organizations.
SEDNA helps better capitalize on time by cutting email volume, unifying processes, intelligently surfacing relevant information, and creating a self-serve context through a shared inbox.
It’s also designed for speedier workflows, from quick composition features like templates and snippet insertion to in-app agility with SEDNA Link integrations and attachment previews to granular, superpowered search functionality that parses millions of emails, attachments, and documents in less than one second.
A connected platform
SEDNA’s open APIs, along with SEDNA Link, allow third-party systems to embed workflow and contextual data right within SEDNA to create countless opportunities for custom integrations with other tools and data sources, so all relevant information is accessible and actionable in one place.
An Intelligent platform
The communication that runs through every job, project, transaction, initiative—all of the internal and external workings of a business—is harnessed and transformed to data that helps optimize the way teams and individuals work. Sedna brings the phrase ‘working smarter, not harder’ to life.
Auto-tagging, which is user-configured or applied by metadata, enriches messages with contextual information and categorizes and organizes emails based on the job, project, or people involved. Saved searches and “Buckets” automatically filter incoming messages to keep information and conversations consolidated and accurately prioritized. Over time, these workflows are measured so they can be used as a level for learning and future automation.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Bill Dobie: We’ve been incredibly fortunate during the pandemic, because SEDNA is designed for global organizations with large and distributed teams, we were able to fully support our customers, many of which have experienced their own digital transformation during this period, as well as being in the fortunate position to transition our own team to be remote-first.
When, all around the world, businesses were having to quickly move and adjust to a remote workforce, SEDNA was a ready-made solution that could help them adapt more easily with an infrastructure and features meant for communication and collaboration across high-volume and distanced teams.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Bill Dobie: Again, we are very fortunate—we actually experienced a lot of growth over the past year. We received our Series A funding, which allowed us to accelerate our own product development as well as significantly expand our team across all departments and several key leadership positions. In fact, we’re still growing and still hiring, which is an amazing stage to be at.
We onboarded nearly 40 people during the pandemic, bringing our team up to 75 today.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Bill Dobie: We are using SEDNA! Our team is based all over the world. Using our own system helps us to perform and improve our product to meet new needs developed and surfaced during this crisis.
Every team at SEDNA uses SEDNA for more efficient communication and better collaboration. For example, when our partnership team finds a new potential partner, they can discuss within the Activity Panel about next actions—commenting with other team members around the message of origin instead of having to send multiple emails or forwards to loop others in. With Auto-Tagging, they can automatically categorize every message from this new partner to make sure the account manager sees the right information.
With SEDNA Link—a development toolkit that embeds third-party data and workflows—the account manager can view details and take message-based actions like adding a task or note through Salesforce, or any other CRM, all within their SEDNA inbox.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bill Dobie: The shared workspace SEDNA creates, with exclusive features such as Auto-Tagging, SEDNA Link, and the Activity Panel, give our product multi-layered value that touches several aspects of the way an organization works.
There is no other platform like SEDNA that can bring all communication, internal and external, together with around one team while also connecting with third-party tools such as Salesforce, Google Drive or SAP. We also have one of the most powerful search tools in terms of speed and precision. Some of our individual features have been compared to other tools—for instance, commenting to Slack, collaboration to Microsoft Teams—but as a whole, we offer something truly unique. We’re competing for mindshare and market penetration, but we think we’re unrivalled when it comes to product and interoperability.
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