Nov 4, 2022
Smartsheet Engage, the annual Smartsheet conference, was held live and in person this past month for the first time since the pandemic began, serving as a wonderful reminder of the power that in-person connection holds. As an attendee of the conference since 2017 and a user of the platform at CDA since 2014, Engage has become a hallmark of innovation each year, allowing us to not only share the progress we’ve made but to expand the possibilities of what we can achieve. Since attending the first Engage five years ago and seeing the scale of organizations using the platform, Smartsheet has played a transformative role in our business, rooting our Project, Employee and QA infrastructures and overhauling many of our administrative tasks and teams. While the most forward-looking developments cannot be shared publicly, there are a number of exciting takeaways to showcase:
Brandfolder’s integration with Smartsheet signaled the expansion of Smartsheet into the world of DAM - Digital Asset Management - and was a major focus throughout the conference, with time dedicated at the user group, opening keynote, and across multiple sessions. DAM is a system that catalogs and collects digital assets (any and all content saved to a digital format) for more streamlined access across projects, people, and teams. Not only does a DAM significantly reduce the amount of time spent looking through folder structures or emails for specific content, but Brandfolder employs proprietary AI technology to tag content with predictive metadata, color profiles, and permissions, establishing content associations for more fluid navigation and access.
Brandfolder further builds on Smartsheet’s march to expand the tool across sectors and workflows, this time targeting marketing and identity (Smartsheet acquired Brandfolder in 2020). This acquisition and integration help to expand the existing Proofing functionality by allowing a team to initiate a campaign through a Smartsheet webform, track responsibility and due dates, leverage Proofing to review and revise content and send the finalized assets directly to Brandfolder for upload into the larger DAM ecosystem. Additionally, Brandfolder features a plugin to access assets directly within Adobe CC products, such as InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, further aligning the tools that comprise CDA’s technology stack.
Brandfolder has the potential to reduce the amount of time taken finding project imagery while simultaneously establishing relationships between assets across projects that would otherwise go unnoticed. This means less time spent searching and more time spent designing with inspiration striking teams firm-wide in unexpected, serendipitous ways.
Miro, a platform used by CDA for process diagrams, concept design workshops, and design sprints, just announced a direct integration with Smartsheet. The integration is a two-way sync, meaning an update in one platform will update the other. The current form of the integration works like this – stickies are created in Miro, which can then create rows in Smartsheet. Rows in Smartsheet can then be sent back to Miro in the form of cards, carrying over fields and values. When one environment updates, so does the other.
Miro remains a standout platform for collaborative ideation, capturing the speed of thought visually on a shared canvas for quick consensus. It’s also been a tool I’ve used personally and at CDA for years, dating back to the early Realtimeboard days. The tool has not only transformed the way that I think but helped make the abstract actionable.
By sending content from the structured, table-based environment of Smartsheet and into the free-flowing graphic-minded space of Miro, team members who feel less comfortable aligning thought and action in a grid will be empowered to interact and engage with key tasks, rows, and metrics in a more visual and intuitive manner.
Additionally, being a power user across both platforms, I was able to introduce myself and offer my support to both the Miro representative and the Smartsheet integrations. The questions I raised during the session were focused on whether there could be an expansion beyond stickies to include objects in the creation of rows from Miro to Smartsheet, and the representation of hierarchical relationships when sending information from Smartsheet to Miro. I availed my time and insights to their teams as the tool goes through further development in the interest of establishing as strong and robust a product as possible.
Miro has become a critical tool for remote collaboration at the conceptual level, particularly for early design workshops with clients distributed across the country. This direct integration with Smartsheet will allow for a more seamless transition from these conceptual sprints to our production environment.
With vaccines and behavioral adjustments addressing the deadliest challenges posed by the pandemic, Smartsheet has renewed its push to develop regional user groups for support and collaboration. A user group was held the first day of the conference, with a sizable booth dedicated to the main floor of the convention center staffed by members of their Product Marketing teams assigned to User Group growth and management.
The Smartsheet community remains vibrant but has been largely relegated to the online portal and virtual meet-ups, and while I’ve visited said portal numerous times to delve into high-level threads nothing can replace the experience of building relationships locally and in person. Additionally, as our teams continue to explore opportunities to extend our services into the world of philanthropy, finding opportunities to support local nonprofits’ needs through user groups remains a fantastic avenue to give back through our time and expertise.
In the time ahead, I’ve been asked to speak at the forthcoming Chicago user group, telling our Smartsheet story from our first use case through Control Center deployments. This Chicago user group is scheduled for November, with a prospective Portland, OR user group targeted for late 2022 / early 2023. If you’re in the area, be sure to join! Keep up to date with Smartsheet User Group schedules here.
By building our network of collaborators and power users, we’ll ensure that CDA remains at the forefront of innovation and development within the platform of Smartsheet and beyond. The insights and fresh perspectives acquired from these connections across the Smartsheet community will fold directly back into the solutions and structures we offer to our clients.
This Engage served as a fantastic reminder of the power of in-person connection, whether interfacing with other power users to ideate around the use of the platform, providing direct feedback to the people building the tool, or networking with clients and nonprofits who can find use in our services.