For everyone, 2022 was a doozy. In tech, especially, it was a year of difficult learnings and at times painful adjustments. But this year also brought much insight. Here at Tonkean, 2022 clarified our mission. Yes, we still want to make a world of makers. But we also want to help organizations work better—that is, with greater efficiency, more customization, and in a way that provides a better experience for what remains every organization’s greatest asset: their people.
As our co-founder and CEO Sagi Eliyahu wrote recently, history has proven that times such as the present are perfect for engaging in this sort of serious, operational change. And new technologies coming online offer tons of firepower as change-making agents. No-code; automation; app builders; AI—all these new tools can be used to unlock flexibility and empower employees who are not traditionally trained coders to take more control over the way they work. They can be used to personalize the way employees work, and enable them to spend more time focusing on high-value tasks.
We want to be a partner to organizations endeavoring to use technology in this sort of way. And we worked by a variety of means this year to improve the support—technological and otherwise—that we’re able to provide.
Here, ahead of 2023, are a few of the changes we made and new tools we built to that end.
When you think of time-sucks, your mind might not jump immediately to intake. But consider the way most organizations manage request handling internally, such as when someone on the sales team needs a contract approved by Legal, or when an account manager has a feature request for the product team. In that instance, the requester will probably do something like Slack a colleague with their request, or send them a message in Teams.
The problem is, most departments are tactically siloed. Few requests can ever be solved in isolation. And these requests are quick to pile up; indeed, they tend to clog inboxes and to-do lists. And because few organizations provide employees with any kind of structure or hierarchy to help them quickly prioritize competing requests in the context of the rest of their responsibilities, they quickly become a burden. Lots of modern work is spent manually coordinating this sort of unstructured collaboration. Even more mental energy and potential focus is lost to it, as well.
All this led us to focus our efforts on finding a way to solve the intake and triage challenge more intelligently. To date, we’ve built a variety of department-specific intake tools—including for Legal, HR, and Procurement—which allow process designers to compose and customize solutions that will automatically intake, triage, and standardize unstructured inbound internal requests. They’ll automatically route requests to the right people, automatically update tickets and CRMs, and reach out proactively to stakeholders in whatever apps or systems they’re already using so that end-users don’t need to change their behavior.
Oh, and anyone inside your organization can lead the charge either with implementing, managing, or customizing these tools, because every single interface we provide is 100% no-code.
Learning resources and tools for makers
Along with all the new tools, features, capabilities, and solutions our product and engineering teams built this year, we’ve also made available a wide array of educational resources, designed both to help our partners get real value out of technology faster and to learn more about their areas of expertise. Here’s an abbreviated list:
We started Tonkean 101 is a one-stop place for diving into automation. It offers a step-by-step breakdown of the basics of the Tonkean platform to get you building powerful solutions on Tonkean as quickly and seamlessly as possible. For example, you’ll learn how to create an email inbox data source, create an “ask a question” action, test your modules, and more.
All this is meant to provide a cohesive and connected learning experience. The handbooks give you a deep and wide overview of each area or challenge, while the blueprints offer you step-by-step solutions to specific business processes. For example, as you’re reading through the Customer Ops handbook, you’ll be presented with related blueprints for related tasks like customer onboarding and module templates like knowledge handoff and an implementation tracker.
And of course, to help any interested parties dive into Tonkean, this year we rolled out a free trial option, so people can sign up and spend a couple of weeks exploring everything Tonkean can do!
Building out and contributing to a thriving community of operations professionals has always been central to our mission. And this year, we strove to build out our community further. One way we did this was through events, including the LegalOps-focusedCLOC Global Institute and HR Tech 2022. There, we put on workshops, chatted (and partied) with thousands of ops professionals, and gave tons of demos of Tonkean’s various tools.
All of which was just the beginning. To wit, the AdaptivOps community—the Tonkean-sponsored community of ops professionals—grew by 200 members this year.
AdaptivOps was also responsible for once again hosting the annual Changemakers Virtual Hackathon, where we pair Tonkean makers—operations and technology experts—with nonprofits who need help with an operational challenge. The winning nonprofit receives a donation, and the projects that come out of this event are incredible. (Wondering if you’re a good match for Changemakers? Interested nonprofits can learn more here, and interested makers can learn more here.)
Finally, we launched the Modern Business Operations podcast, where we talk to leaders of some of the largest and fastest-growing companies about the future of business operations and how enterprises are learning to adapt their operations and technology to a rapidly changing world. Hosted by Tonkean CEO Sagi Eliyahu and Community Lead Briana Okyere, we posted 35 episodes in 2022. Modern Business Operations was also the top podcast on Spotify in the Business Operations category. And as a spiritual cousin to the podcast, this year we launched Ops Digest, a monthly newsletter aimed at ops professionals. It serves as a sort of primer on what’s happening in the ops world and fosters a community hub to help you learn from other ops professionals. Already, the newsletter has shown better engagement every month! You can subscribe here to get every issue delivered to your inbox.
A better Tonkean
Of course, as hinted above, over the course of 2022 we made a ton of updates, upgrades, and additions to the actual Tonkean platform, too.
Our product team focused on two broad objectives:
Providing richer transparency and organization for employees who use Tonkean together
Packaging processes to help people get started with Tonkean easier and more quickly
Here are some of the specific upgrades and updates that rolled up to those two big initiatives:
Custom Item Interfaces: Various stakeholders involved in a given business process may need to see or keep track of only one part of it. For example, for a legal intake process module, the requestor cares only about the status of the request and who’s assigned it to, whereas the attorney working on the request needs to know who’s responsible for approval. So instead of making everyone have to look at every part of the process, Custom Item Interfaces let you create customized views for each stakeholder. It’s widget-based and composable, and you can keep tweaking it over time as demands shift, so it’s easy to stay current for everyone involved.
Workspace Apps: One of the best features of Tonkean is that it’s not just another application to pile onto your tech stack; it sits a layer above your existing applications and allows you to orchestrate all your business processes behind the scenes. But any given solution you create in Tonkean may have many different parts, so we created Workspace Apps as a clean user interface for grouping all the actions, data, and business logic at work.
For example, if you have a number of processes related to Legal, you want to be able to see and track everything related to that category, such as matter intake, legal risk exposure, and so on. With Workspace Apps—which you create in Tonkean via a widget-based page builder—you can create a whole portal with every legal process, a Q&A section, an FAQ section, a handy list of policies and procedures, and more. It’s entirely customizable and updatable as your needs change.
Component Library: Tonkean lets you create workflows for processes from scratch, but we don’t want people to have to build everything from scratch. The Component Library comprises a bunch of ready-to-use components, which makers can browse and import directly into their boards to get moving more quickly on ideation and employing core aspects of common business processes. That way, you’re spending your time on building and customizing the unique solutions or modules that pertain to your particular processes and organization.
There are three main types of components.
Solution Blueprints are fully customizable design plans for an entire Tonkean solution that encompass the business outcome, a clear description, and the recommended modules you need to orchestrate an end-to-end business process.
Module Templates are what they sound like–customizable examples of a Tonkean module that includes standard actions, logic, and data sources for a given task or process. For example, a template for an employee equipment request task would include the forms an employee has to fill out and the data sources you’ll likely need, such as Okta and Amazon.
And Data Sources are pretty self-explanatory. They encompass the apps and services that power your solutions. They may include Google Drive for forms, Slack and Teams for communications, DocuSign, Salesforce, and more. Tonkean has numerous premade data source connections, but you can connect pretty much any custom data source you want.
Solutions Studio UI redesign: We’re constantly updating the interface to our Solutions Studio. The Solutions Studio is the area where you can create and maintain your processes and modules. It includes the graphical no-code interface with which you can create workflows for your processes, and it encompasses Custom Item Interfaces and Workspace Apps.
Late this year, we redesigned the Solutions Studio interface in an effort to keep teams aligned and moving in the right direction together. The redesign simplifies the experience and highlights the Solution Overview and Business Outcome sections, including by moving key pages to a left-side panel.
Module Versions: This is one of those product tweaks that falls under the “if you know, you know” category. We enhanced the module builder so that makers can now manually create versions of their modules without having to publish them to the Production environment. That way, they can tinker with their modules–iterating and experimenting–and save changes along the way. You can also compare two versions and revert a module back to a previous version if you need to.
And of course, all of the aforementioned blueprints, vertical-specific use cases, the free trial, and more all contribute to the overall product improvement effort.
The year ahead
We’re proud of what our Tonkean team accomplished in 2022. Despite the tumult in the tech sector and economy at large, our people have made exceptional progress, our product is better than ever, the community is growing and more engaged, and our vision for the near future is clearer than ever.
In other words, we’re ready to do even more in 2023.
Want to learn more about what we’re doing over here in Tonkean or how we might be able to help your organization level-up its operations? Get in touch!
Legal intake is inevitable, but managing it doesn’t have to be a slow, painstaking, manual process. With AI, automation, and intake orchestration, you can streamline intake processes and reclaim hours of time and effort.