We talked to Sjoerd Koolen of WorkplaceBuddy on how to increase productivity by smart training through Microsoft Teams app with e-learning and chatbot.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sjoerd Koolen: Thanks for asking. We’ve actually all had it but without big trouble so that’s a relief. Of course, we are totally done with the pandemic but who isn’t.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded WorkplaceBuddy.
Sjoerd Koolen: I worked for Microsoft as an adoption consultant. This role is all about making sure that larger companies actually use Office 365 after implementing it. It was very hard to become scalable whilst only having two hands. Also, it was rather expensive for companies to train everybody and offer support for everybody. So that’s why we invented our Teams app “WorkplaceBuddy”. It is a Whitelabel app, used by Microsoft partners, to make the adoption approach personal at scale.
How does WorkplaceBuddy innovate?
Sjoerd Koolen: From all training and adoption tools we like to think that we are the most innovative one available. That’s because we use and create the most advanced technology, and because we make sure the features integrate with the approach partners have. We have a partner approach so we align with them every week on what they see and what they need.
Because our app is all about active usage we see exactly what people ask. With this information, we determine what reactive or proactive additional content is needed to serve everybody well.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Sjoerd Koolen: Thanks to our app with all its capabilities, we allow Microsoft partners to keep doing their adoption efforts virtually. On the one side this is the reason why we are doing very well. However, we do see that many companies wait with spending money on supporting their employees (costing more money after all but I do understand it).
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Sjoerd Koolen: Of course we have made difficult choices. I think the most difficult choices are with hiring people. It is hard to get to know them upfront, and while being a startup we constantly evolve. People hired have to evolve with these motions as well, sometimes with success, sometimes not.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Sjoerd Koolen: Being in the Microsoft ecosystem we use everything from them. We are in Microsoft for Startups so some parts are sponsored. However, in my personal opinion, nothing beats the flexibility of Clickup. It is my task system and CRM system in one. I love all the possibilities of that package and I am relieved I am not using a traditional CRM system.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sjoerd Koolen: Sometimes customers compare us with a chatbot system, sometimes they compare us with eLearning tools. For us the biggest challenge is to explain to customers we are here to solve a problem in a personal way at scale, without focusing on being a particular tool.
Your final thoughts?
Sjoerd Koolen: We will cope with Covid and starting mid-summer there will be increased opportunism in the world, making it easier for people to think forward!
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