Investing in the Connected Enterprise and Making Offices Frictionless

(Cross posted from Medium)

The typical knowledge worker spends a third of his or her work day in meetings. With advent of the information, internet and cloud era, we have moved to electronic calendars, virtual meeting tools, cloud-based collaboration software and other tools that increase productivity.

However, the process of finding a physical space to meet or work at has continued to be laden with friction. The move to calendar based booking of rooms and resources has helped, but significant areas of friction remain. This is because enterprise productivity tools have not hitherto had a direct feedback loop with the physical office environment.

Take for instance these recurring situations you’ve likely run into — you book a room for an important meeting, but someone else is in the room when you arrive; or that urgent meeting that you can’t find a meeting room for, yet many rooms appear unoccupied when you walk past the meeting room area; or coming across recurring blocks of zombie meetings on the resource calendar that appear to be there just to hold on to meeting space.

As organizations move towards higher proportions of knowledge workers, move to open office environments, and value employee time and collaboration more, these friction areas are becoming more important to address. Smart organizations have an increasing need to measure and act upon usage patterns of workspace and employee time — think Fitbit for office space. McKinsey expects IoT technologies to manage office spaces could add upwards of $70 Billion of value per year by 2025, including potential for 5% human productivity improvement and 20% savings in office costs.

Today, we welcome digital workplace innovator EventBoard to the Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) portfolio to address one of the most common business headaches — managing meetings. NGP has led a $13.5M Series B round, and the company’s news release provides further details. EventBoard CEO Shaun Ritchie has shared his insights and vision in his blog post. As a long-term investor in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, we are committed to supporting innovators that will power the next major enterprise shift through connected devices.

Our Connected Enterprise Vision

There has been a surge of buzz around Enterprise IoT. Our Connected Enterprise investment thesis is based on our experience partnering with several successful companies in this space. We look to invest in Connected Enterprise companies that:

Create and capture a bulk of the value in the software platform and actionable analytics rather than proprietary hardware, and monetize via a subscription model. EventBoard’s solutions work with commodity hardware (iPads and Android tablets), integrate with a number of best-in-class third party services and disrupt prior generation solutions that used expensive and cumbersome proprietary hardware. This approach enables a solution that is easier to implement and scale, significantly more usable and cost effective, and one that provides richer analytics & indoor maps

Provide simple-to-use solutions which address clear existing areas of friction, sell to a motivated buyer within the enterprise and easily fit into the natural employee workflow. We believe such Connected Device/IoT solutions will create faster path to Enterprise adoption than solutions that first need to educate customers on need, those that need to move through multiple stages of buyer experimentation, or those that require significant changes to employee workflow

Provide extensible solutions that align with important macro trendssuch as the focus of knowledge economy companies on enhancing employee productivity and fostering collaboration. As companies move to open office layouts and shared spaces, solutions such as EventBoard’s attain further relevance

– Are at a stage where the company has achieved strong product-market fit, has a viable sales model in place, demonstrates strong SaaS/Enterprise metrics, and is at a scale where it is ready to engage with large enterprises

In our conversations with IT and Workplace Resources decision makers at several leading organizations, we found that EventBoard aligns well with these criteria. NGP portfolio companies Digital Lumens and RetailNextprovide other relevant examples of companies that drive business value by leveraging a winning combination of these elements.

Exemplifying our vision and capitalizing on the rise of connected devices in the enterprise environment, EventBoard has a tremendous opportunity to expand as it grows its enterprise productivity analytics stack. EventBoard has demonstrated impressive market traction in a short amount of time. It serves more than 1,800 customers including technology and workplace thought leaders such as Uber, AirBnB, Twitter, Dropbox, GE, Viacom, Rakuten, TripAdvisor and National Instruments. We believe EventBoard is well positioned to become the standard solution for managing workplace productivity thanks to its proven leadership team, category leading product and scalable architecture. Please reach out if you’d like to make your meetings more productive. And EventBoard is hiring!

NGP continues to invest in companies that are actively addressing real pain points in the Enterprise — the innovators that will disrupt the enterprise technology status quo and deliver on the potential business value of the Connected Enterprise era.

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