A little over a month ago I left SAP for a startup and at the time I declined to name the company I was joining. I would like to say that this was part of some brilliant marketing plan but the fact is that I joined a very early stage company and we had to get a lot of work done before I felt comfortable throwing the doors open and inviting you in. We have much of that done, much more to do, but we have enough done that I am not only comfortable to let it out, but excited.
The company I joined is called Teqlo, Inc.
I’d like to start by saying all the usual stuff like cool technology, great team, huge market, yada yada yada, but first let me answer the really meaningful question: what does this mean for customers?
As a industry we have been after this idea of easy to use software that “my mom can use” (surely the most over-used phrase in the technology world, but appropriate more so than ever before) for the better part of a decade and a half. I remember the first client/server applications because they were such a breath of fresh air compared to green screens, and then later the Internet actually opened up these apps to the wide audience they were intended for. The consumer Internet companies have really pushed the state-of-the-art for ease of use and accessibility and indeed many companies today are looking at these services and asking “why can’t we have something like this for our apps?”.
The fundamental problem that has bedeviled application developers is that they are fundamentally disconnected from the people who use their applications. They have design partners and focus groups, beta periods where feedback is channeled back to the developers and tweaks made, and there are post-release initiatives aimed at improving the quality and satisfaction rate of the product… but even in the best run process the users are not intimately involved in the development process. With Teqlo the users are intimately involved because they are the developer.
To expect that users, even power users, will be able to build applications that stitch together web services from multiple vendors is a stretch. Teqlo isn’t attempting to build a new development language like Ruby on Rails that dramatically lowers the barrier, what we are doing is essentially reverse programming. We’re treating development as a data flow problem, not a programming flow problem. If there is a core piece of technology that we have invented, it is the routing methodology and not the semantic definition of components; Teqlo takes web services that are wrapped up as components, we call them Teqlets, and determines the optimal sequencing based on the data inputs/outputs of each component. Yeah, it’s hard and there is a lot more to it than I am revealing here, but the point of this post is not to talk about our technology but rather what it means for users.
I’m up at the Office 2.0 conference today and in Esther Dyson’s keynote she talked about building applications from services that are available on the internet. Her example was an expense tracking application that would look at her calendar and determine that she had lunch with someone today, then go to her credit card statement and input the transaction details. With Teqlo, Esther would be able to build this (although in all honesty we don’t have the credit card component, but it’s a good idea) and publish it to a URL like esther.teqlo.com/expense/ and then invite her colleagues and friends to use it… Esther is now a software publisher and she didn’t have to learn how to program in a structured or scripting language to do it. Later, Vinnie decides that he wants to clone Esther’s expense Teqlo but instead of expensing lunch he wants to bill his client for his time, so Vinnie adds a small billing calculator and then drops a salesforce.com Teqlet into the assembler canvas that he pulls customer master data with and generate an electronic invoice, and then publishes the Teqlo for his use and invites his coworkers to use it.
Assemble, publish, invite is what Teqlo is all about. If you have been reading my blog for any period of time you know that I’m passionate about giving users applications that work the way they work, applications that deliver high levels of customer satisfaction because the people that are using them had a hand in defining and building them. This is exactly what attracted me to Teqlo (then called Abgenial Systems) when Peter and Rafael first showed me the concept a year ago. In later meeting Jacoby and the rest of the team I was blown away by how elegant their invention was, but more importantly that they were able to actually build it. I am proud and excited to join this company and look forward to exposing more of it as we deliver it.