Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a Maker?
In Kotive, a Maker is a person who creates workflow apps.
We intentionally chose the concept “Maker” to break the convention that the creation of software apps are the domain of software programmers and engineers.
What is a task?
A task refers to one specific action or operation. Examples of tasks are, to:
- Gather information with an online form,
- Send an email,
- Make an entry into a Google spreadsheet,
- Generate a PDF document.
What is a workflow?
A workflow consists of tasks strung together by conditions (business rules, preconditions, either/or, if this then that) with the intention of achieving a desired goal.
Conditions influence, determine and control the progression from one task to the next while each task performs its specific action.
Workflows are inherent in human endeavors. Once you understand the extent to which workflows are integrated in everyday life, you will be able to solve many “shadow business processes” more effectively. Gartner defines shadow business processes as “hidden, informal work practices, often supported under the IT radar by secret spreadsheets, emails, phone calls and face-to-face collaboration”.
What is a workflow app?
A workflow app is a “packaged” workflow(s) to be used by a specific target market to perform a desired operation. Over and above the workflow(s), the workflow app includes user account management, role-based access control and billing. As a Maker, what is the difference between my customers and Kotive’s customers?
All Makers are the direct customers of Kotive since they use Kotive to create workflow apps.
The Maker’s customers are the users that the Maker recruits or who sign up to use the workflow app. The Maker determines the amount they charge their customers for the usage of the workflow app.
I do not have experience in business processes management. Will this disqualify me to create workflows?
The reference to BPM (business process management) is interesting… Although workflows can be a business process we have chosen not to position Kotive within the BPM space. We have done this for one important reason: we do not want people to feel that the creation of workflow apps are not within their reach.
We believe that workflows are a natural part of human practice and with Kotive we give people a tool to create custom workflow apps without needing BPM or programming experience.
At the same time we suspect that BPM knowledge will be beneficial in creating workflows with Kotive – that is if you are willing to get past the nonconformity with BPMN (Business Process Model Notation).
Who benefits from using Kotive?
Anybody. But if you want to be more specific the most likely people are: Entrepreneurs, Software developers, Designers, Business analysts, Marketing agents, Managers, IT specialists & Small business owners.
Also those looking to solve “shadow business processes” – the hidden, informal work practices usually supported by spreadsheets, emails, phone calls and face-to-face collaboration. Practices often not found on IT’s radar.
The truth is that the possible permutations are limitless when considering the combinations of Makers, their unique workflow apps and the niche markets they service.
How can I earn revenue by making solutions?
Problems deemed difficult and cumbersome to solve in the past and lived with in complacence, becomes an opportunity if you have the right tool. By giving you scope, endless new possibilities open up for Makers.
If you create workflow apps that increase your customers’ productivity, you will earn revenue. Anyone likes getting a job done as quickly and as easily as possible, without any mistakes, saving time, effort and costs.
I want my workflow app to be financially successful. Any suggestions that might help?
For us, the most important (financial) success factor is: to truly understand the need of your customer and create a workflow app to seamlessly solve this need.
Secondly, opt for the simplest solution to get the job done. Customers are often so absorbed in the old way of doing the work (often paper-based with some use of Excel) and therefore they struggle to redefine the solution within a digital context. If you, as Maker, can help them with this challenge, then we have found that often exciting new insights are brought to the table. And more than once this have had a spinoff effect of changing the original flow of tasks. In this way you bring value to the customer and people are willing to pay for real value.
Determine the value that the workflow app offers the customer (increase in productivity, risk reduction, custom solution, etc) and then price your product accordingly.
How do I understand the needs of the niche market I want to build a workflow app for?
Relationship, relationship, relationship. The important skills are to get “into the shoes” of the customer, to listen to what they say and to understand what they mean.
When a customer is not well versed in technology and tech jargon it is very difficult for them to articulate their needs. We have had a client who approached us and asked for a website. However, they already had a website and it was functional. After understanding their business and need, we realized that they needed an online insurance claim workflow to speed up the insurance claims process, to consolidate the information and provide reports on the status of claims.
Talk “normal human language” and avoid tech talk at all costs. Customers are often reluctant to talk about technology as they feel intimidated by the jargon.
We often find that our customers think and communicate their flow of tasks in the context of their existing paper-based “system”. If you fall in the trap of taking that exact flow and recreating it digitally, then you get a workflow app that is cumbersome and fragmented. Thus although you have to listen very careful to the customer, you have to find the simplest and most logical way to design the flow of tasks within the digital context.
How did the idea for Kotive emerge?
The idea for Kotive took shape a day before presenting another proposal to a client who needed a custom software solution for procurement. By that time we have repeatedly programmed custom solutions for clients and felt that we needed a tool to help us build these solutions much quicker instead of repeatedly creating the same things over-and-over (e.g. access control, validation, API integration, forms, business rules, etc.).
The first workflow app created by Kotive launched March 2013. We created this workflow ourselves and implemented it for 180+ companies.
Kotive is the third iteration of our tool that we now make available to other Makers. We believe we have a richer understanding of our product, being both the creator of and a Maker with Kotive.
Who is behind Kotive?
Collectively the team that contributed to Kotive has experience in software development, digital marketing, game development, user behavior and usability.
Kotive’s founders have worked together for more than 10 years and Kotive is their fourth entrepreneurial venture. Kotive is self-funded (bootstrapped) and recently the founders sold a successful entrepreneurial undertaking to re-invest in Kotive.
“We love to be free, to do what we do best: to congregate a team of experts around a shared vision and to focus on our customers. We understand the value of delayed gratification and to organically grow with our business.”
Is Kotive a prototyping tool?
No. Nope. No-way! Workflow apps made with Kotive are fully functional software solutions that are used by real businesses and organizations.
If you’re interested in the technical details why Kotive is NOT a prototyping tool:
Kotive has been developed on the world’s leading Reactive application development platform, provided by Typesafe. We’re in good company since giants such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Walmart, Paypal, Verizon and HP also make use of the Reactive technologies we use in Kotive, namely Scala, Akka, Spray and Slick.
We use Elasticsearch to power our custom reporting within the app and to record a detailed audit trail of every data-changing transaction. Github, Tango, Quizlet, The Guardian and Wajam also use Elasticsearch to provide real-time search results from millions, and in some cases literally billions, of records.
On the web-app side we use Ember, in their words “for creating ambitious web applications”. Ember is used by hundreds of companies, including Yahoo!, Square, Zendesk, Groupon, Heroku, Ted and Netflix.
Is Kotive a flowchart or process-modeling tool?
No. Although you get a visual representation of your workflow when designing it, the workflow is a fully functional software solution. Not only can you view and discuss your workflow but you can also implement, execute and interact with the end-solution.
Is it not easier to just buy an out-of-the-box solution?
Out-of-the-box solutions provide one-size-fits-all solutions. You have to adapt to their logic instead of finding a straightforward solution that fits your need. And besides, out-of-the-box solutions still need to be configured – usually at an additional cost.
What can be expected of Kotive in the future?
- We will regularly make new kinds of tasks available in the Kotive Workflow designer.
- We will also establish a Maker community where you can discover and clone public workflows created by other Makers.
- We are planning to extend this Maker community into a marketplace where you would be able to buy and sell private workflows.
- For our Premium Makers, you will be able to add your private web-services as tasks into workflows.
Do you have any other questions we haven’t answered?
Let us know in the comments below.