Order from data chaosDawn

Our investment in Onna

Anarchy in the workplace

Before the current boom in enterprise SaaS, the CIO’s job was far easier. Enterprise apps were carefully planned with a core set of ‘must have’ apps including CRM, ERP, BI and Messaging and Collaboration. The data powering these apps was tightly managed in a closed system.

Fast forward to today and we are using more and more apps at work — apps for communication, collaboration, productivity and storage — many of which have not been procured by the CIO but rather by individual employees and which then spread virally. This has led to a fragmentation of apps and a dispersion of corporate data in an uncontrolled manner. And whenever something better comes along, the enterprise landscape is reshuffled.

Before long, the company finds it has hundreds of users on platforms such as Slack, Dropbox or Zoom — even though none of these has been through a formal purchasing process.

As a result, CIOs can no longer plan or dictate what apps people use, have no control of where data sits, and worse have no easy way of accessing and searching that data.

Unifying the stack

As the toolset becomes more diverse, new problems emerge in security, compliance and unification. (This is true even for software that has been procured through formal channels.)

Zapier solves the problem of workflow orchestration: by connecting apps together, you can build a more cohesive stack out of your favourite tools.

A typical Zapier workflow (Source: Zapier)

But data fragmentation remains a major headache. Nowadays, you can begin a conversation on email, continue it in Slack, and then chat in Google Docs as you collaborate on a file that you then download as a pdf and save to Dropbox.

As a result, employees can’t remember where they saw a message or file, and organisations struggle with compliance and knowledge management — and this in a context where they’re increasingly under pressure to manage their data proactively. Apps also need to consume data directly from one another—i.e. the actual content of emails, documents and messages—but there is no fabric to connect them all together.

Zapier has revolutionised workflow, but until now there hasn’t been a good solution for uniting the the data within SaaS apps.

Connecting data with Onna

Enter Onna, whose philosophy is simple: Connect everything, so you can find anything. Their mission is to bring order to the chaos of data fragmentation in today’s tech stacks.

Workplace tech stacks will continue to be diverse and best-of-breed, but apps need to talk to each other much more closely. Onna is the platform that will stitch all the data together, centralising and organising siloed information.

The old way of connecting data within apps relied on file exports, screen-scraping and journaling. Onna uses APIs to enable SaaS tools to surface and exchange data. APIs mean that Onna sees much deeper into the data, and that it’s kept up to date through continuous streaming.

With Onna, any software company or third party can connect any data source—whether for users to search data via a frontend, for authorised applications to exchange information between themselves, or for machine learning models to classify and organise. To support this, Onna is fostering an ecosystem of standard machine learning models that can be applied to any deployment, so that users can organise information based on their needs.

All this represents a major engineering challenge, and Onna is first to market with a brilliant product that is truly fit for the cloud era.

Onna Founder and CEO, Salim Elkhou

Onna started out in legal departments in companies such as Facebook, EA and Fitbit, which needed a way to search company data for regulatory purposes. But soon, everyday workers started asking if they could also use Onna to search their own data, just to stay on top of things. So Onna is now building out further capabilities and connectors to enable it to be a comprehensive point of search for internal data, as well as to power direct app-to-app data exchange.

We’re thrilled to announce our investment into Onna in an $11m round led by us and supported by Nauta together with Dropbox and Slack — customers that are so delighted by the product that they asked to invest as well. Salim and the team at Onna have built an elegant solution and we’re delighted to partner with them as they continue to scale into a global leader.

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