In a nutshell

The IdeaCloud platform started out as a single-use project-based digital agency deliverable. As it began to spark interest with other customers, it became clear that the software needed to quickly and effectively scale. I was brought on board to help grow and evolve the platform, starting with a focus on user experience. From there, the platform evolved to create new tools, features, and products to meet the customer demand.
Jul 24, 2020

The evolution of a SaaS Platform

IdeaCloud is a purpose-built SaaS platform that allows customers to tell complex user-centric sales and marketing stories. Partnering with the Experience Design team, customers can create stories, which we call Simulations, that demonstrate the capabilities of their technology, solutions, or products. These simulations are then hosted in the IdeaCloud platform for use in scenarios ranging from tradeshows, to customer meetings, to Executive Briefing Center demos.

IdeaCloud was first started as a single project through a digital marketing agency, for use in Executive Strategy Sessions with customers. The popularity of the platform in that context, as well as generated interest from other customers, created the need to quickly be updated for scale and re-imagined to be available to roll out to other customers.

I was brought onboard to help organize and manage the software development cycles. The first iteration of the platform had barely enough UI to support it's use, and required users to memorize URLs and pathways to get to what they needed. It was painful, clunky, and limited in it's capabilities. My charter was to help bring some expertise around user experience, software development cycles, and learnings from years of managing technical projects.

We started by updating the outdated, missing, and confusing UI. The software was originally built with the intent to be used in We consolidated all of the disparate pieces of the system, and redesigned the content to be more modern and easier to use. Over time, it has continued to evolve.

Over the first year, the UI was continuously updated to account for new customer behaviors, new products and features, and learnings from the limited amount of data we had available. As we watched and learned what our customers were doing, and working directly with our Customer Advisory Board, we began to construct additional tools and features. We added the ability to upload instructions and overview content to help learn the simulation, tagging and filtering to make it easier to find simulations, and adding global search to allow for ease of navigation and exploration.

In addition to updating the design and navigation structure, we began to conceptualize what I called 'Anywhereability.'  We had already tackled how to give simulations in customer meetings, but needed more tools to be able to take the simulations to the stage in a tradeshow, to the screen in a briefing room, and most recently, to our customer's own digital properties. Features like 'Auto-Run' made it possible for the simulations to automatically advance through the stories, allowing the presenter to focus on their presentation and not driving the simulation itself, which was ideal for tradeshow delivery. For one-on-one or virtual meetings, we added the ability to advance the simulation content using arrow keys, for an invisible and frictionless discussion with prospects.

Along our journey to make simulations accessible anywhere, we began exploring the ability to view and interact with them outside of our platform. While our original primary audience was for sales, product, event, and evangelist professionals, our desire to provide 'Anywhereability' allowed us to create the capability to embed a simulation on our customer's websites. Working with some of our biggest customers, we created what we called Marketing Experience simulations.

These simulations were intended to stand on their own, and be experienced by our customer's digital audience. While the original simulations were architected with the intention to help close deals and change customer conversation, they also were built in a way that required a presenter to deliver the content to the end-user. Knowing this, we had to build tools to support an 'unguided' viewer. This included more obvious navigational elements, orientation, and pathways through the content.

Our first Marketing Experience simulation launched, and within a few days, we received feedback that it outperformed the video it replaced by ~357%. That simulation can be found here:

Creating this new product line opened up a floodgate of opportunity for the IdeaCloud team and for our customers. As of this post, 30% of our customers have begun to explore their own use cases for the Marketing simulations, as well as discussion around how both the Presenter-led and User-led simulations models could enhance and create consistency in the conversation between brand and customer.

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