Work management software company Smartsheet unveiled its next-generation platform today, debuting features designed to provide users with new generative-AI powered capabilities at scale.
Work in the Smartsheet platform centers around “sheets” that contain information relating to a particular project or projects, within which users can include a variety of details such as a description, status, due dates, and which workers have been assigned to complete a task.
“Our goal is to make our platform not only powerful, but intuitive, beautiful, and delightful to use. And with this announcement, we're giving customers more and better ways to visualise their work in Smartsheet,” said Ben Canning, senior vice president of products at Smartsheet, during a press conference. The company is taking a very practical approach to AI, he said.
“We want to make sure that we are providing practical capabilities that use AI to empower our customers to achieve their goals faster and remove some of the drudgery from work,” he said.
Available from today in private beta, the revamped Smartsheet allows customers to use conversational prompts to generate data insights and visual charts, a capability that is currently limited to individual sheets but in the future will be derived from thousands of active projects and data stores.
Users will be able to offer up simple descriptions in order generate formulas or content such as sheet summaries, translations, and image captions through its digital asset management tool, Brandfolder. Additionally, users will be able to create custom solutions simply by responding to questions posed by the platform.
Smartsheet’s new AI-powered assistant can also provide customised, natural language responses to questions posed by customers.
“Smartsheet is being pragmatic with its AI capabilities focusing them on addressing common friction points in the Smartsheet user experience like working with formulas and more quickly building custom solutions,” said analyst Chris Marsh, who leads workforce productivity and collaboration research practice in S&P Global Market Intelligence.
He added that the company had opted to apply AI where there is scale advantage such as analysing large volumes of data in its grid and autocaptioning images, and focus less on text generation.
Building out the platform at scale
In addition to the AI capabilities now on offer from Smartsheet, the updated version of the platform is also designed to make it easier for users to work at scale. By January, the Smartsheet Control Center will support 20,000 active projects per business program, a 20-fold, year-over-year increase, and in 2024, every sheet will also support five million cells and allow five million sheet links — a 250-time increase above the current level — per sheet.
A new timeline view will give teams a big-picture look into date-based work and allow data to be organised into visual groups or by project milestones, making it easier to see key dates. Smartsheet is also previewing its refreshed Grid and Card Views and customers can soon create more modern and colorful dashboards that provide multi-widget editing, scaling optimisations and wider canvases. Soon -to-be released dashboard snapshots will allow users to schedule regular, automatic dashboard deliveries.
Business and Enterprise users will soon have access to two new features: Workload Heatmap and Workload Schedule. Available directly in project sheets, these new tools give project managers the ability to quickly identify who is working on what, address over-allocations, and make data-driven staffing decisions to ensure the successful delivery of projects.
Finally, for advanced protection, Enterprise plan customers can purchase Smartsheet Safeguard, a collection of security and governance controls that includes customer-managed encryption keys, data egress policies, event reporting, and data retention controls.
“The things Smartsheet is announcing speak to the opportunity the category has around scaling into more strategic customer deployments,” said Marsh, who noted that much of the growth in work management software is being driven by large customer deployments where capabilities like sophisticated project and portfolio management, advanced security and governance features, and massive capacity in managing volumes of data are needed.
Though companies are still in the discovery phase of how AI can benefit them on a daily basis, vendors are quickly jumping on the bandwagon, said Margo Visitacion, principal analyst for portfolio management and enterprise architecture at Forrester.
“Right now, it's the vendors leading the charge, but they need to bring real value to the table in terms of automation, smart decision making and ultimately successful business outcomes to sustain interest and adoption — and sustainability means vendors must be ethical in how they are dealing with customer data,” she said.