How Fibery will transform product companies work and knowledge management processes

🦐 Now → Many tools

Let’ me briefly focus on the “now”. How this startup most likely operates and what unsolved problems does it have?

  • Notion as a company wiki/intranet and product management
  • Jira/Linear for software development
  • Slack as a chat
  • Asana for various projects in marketing and other non-IT teams
  • Intercom: chat + user guide
  • HubSpot as a CRM
  • Canny as a feedback portal
  • Miro as a diagram/whiteboard tool

Problems

There are many problems, but I just want to highlight several of them as examples.

  1. Knowledge lives in many tools (Notion, Miro, Canny, Slack, Jira)
  2. Discussions out of context
  3. Customers feedback handling process is poor
  4. Features prioritization process is ad-hoc and mostly based on gut feelings
  5. Connection between features specification and features as work items is weak

Problem 1: Knowledge lives in many tools (Notion, Miro, Canny, Slack, Jira)

It makes invention much harder since you have to extract it from many tools and put it into some digestible format for the analysis phase. Then you have to jump between these tools: brainstorm something in Miro → document results in Notion → have a sudden discussion in Slack → jump back to Notion to add some ideas and options, etc.

Many tools…

Problem 2: Discussions are out of context

Most discussions happen in Slack, but knowledge is hard to extract from Slack discussions. In most cases, there are no connections to real decisions, actions, and long-term knowledge accumulators.

Real Slack discussion in Fibery team

Problem 3: Customers feedback handling process is poor

Feedback from all sources is not accumulated in a single place, only a basic voting mechanism may present. However, feedback comes from many places: customer calls, intercom chats, emails, etc. Votes are not the best way to capture feedback, text is much better. But almost all companies rely on votes since there are no good tools to capture and aggregate narrative feedback and quantify it.

This feedback is primarily votes. While it gives you volume, it has no narrative and not so many real cases.

Problem 4: Features prioritization process is ad-hoc and mostly based on gut feelings

It is not clear what Feature brings more value since feedback is not captured and not linked to a potential feature. There are some models like Kano or RICE, but they work no better than gut feelings, to be honest. We need some real hard data to make decisions about features’ importance.

Typical backlog without any real prioritization model

Problem 5: Connection between features specification and features as work items is weak

Features-as-specs live in Notion and features-as-work-items live in Jira. This makes feature updates and discussions harder since developers work in Jira and have to navigate to Notion to add some relevant comments. Or they comment in Jira, but the context is not there, thus making even discussion harder. In real life, the discussion will happen in Slack…

😑 Why do companies tend to ignore these problems?

Most companies are blind to these internal problems. Why?

  1. External problems (market, sales, customer success) are more important and you can build a great business on top of relatively unoptimized internal processes.
  2. Internal process changes are hard and painful. Companies tend to avoid them.
  3. This is a status quo and solutions to these problems are hard or non-existent.

🤷‍♀️ Are these problems important enough?

We don’t really know ¯\(ツ)/¯. We don’t have solutions for them and we don’t know how these solutions will affect companies, we can only speculate. This is the edge of productivity tools right now. Maybe it will lead to a transformative experience for many companies and help them create things that were not possible before. Maybe it will lead to marginal improvements in productivity and knowledge management.

🪢 Why do these problems exist?

  1. Unbundling and specialization of tools solved some specific problems but added coordination and information discoverability problems. For small companies it is bearable, for a larger company coordination problems become more important and hard to ignore.
  2. All efforts to bring information from these tools together did not get traction so far. Universal search bars, some ad-hoc integrations or integration platforms, and data lakes solve only some cases.
  3. Some problems are intrinsically hard (features prioritization, domain knowledge capturing).

🦄 Future → Bundling

Our ultimate idea is that it is possible to build a single piece of software that will replace almost all tools from the list above:

  • ✔️ Notion as a company wiki/intranet and product management
  • ✔️ Jira/Linear for software development
  • ✔️ Slack as a chat
  • ✔️ Asana for various projects in marketing and other non-IT teams
  • ✔️❌ Intercom: ❌ chat + ✔️ user guide
  • ✔️ HubSpot as a CRM
  • ✔️ Canny as a feedback portal
  • ✔️ Miro as a diagram/whiteboard tool

Solutions

I understand that text + sketches might be not enough to assemble a complete solution, but I hope you will find some glimpses of hope below.

1. Knowledge lives in many tools (Notion, Miro, Canny, Slack, Jira) → replace many tools with a single one (Fibery)

When you have all process and knowledge-related things in a single place, information discovery becomes so much easier. You just search for what you need in Fibery using full-text search, filter search results by information type, and other criteria.

Search in Fibery. When you store everything in a single place, it’s so much easier to find what you need.

2. Discussions are out of context → discuss always in context

You don’t have Slack or any external chat app. You have all conversations in Fibery. All discussions are tightly linked to process areas, knowledge hubs, or work items.

FUTURE: Discussion linked to a Feature. Transform it to information and actions.

3. Customers Feedback handling process is poor → accumulate and connect all feedback in a single place

Feedback from all sources is accumulated in Fibery: Intercom chats, calls transcripts, emails, feedback portal. Feedback is linked to accounts in Fibery CRM and to Product Areas and Features in a backlog via bi-directional links.

FUTURE: All feedback is connected to features. You can filter it by account status, MRR, segment.

4. Features prioritization process is ad-hoc → collect and use hard data to score features

When you have all feedback in Fibery, you can finally use hard data to prioritize features. What feedback is more important? Most likely from paid accounts, your target segments, larger accounts, etc. You can create a custom formula to calculate Feature importance based on strategic criteria and rely less on your git feelings.

FUTURE: Score of features based on real data: Account status, MRR, segment and feedback volume.

5. Connection between features spec and features as work items is weak → remove this false dichotomy and merge them

Knowledge and work items are not separated. Feature spec lives inside a Feature, and Feature is moved by states from development to release. All communication about Feature happens in Fibery and is linked to Feature, so you can trace decisions-to-discussions and back.

Feature is work and Feature is Spec in Fibery. Unity!

Why it is possible?

Indeed, every single vendor in the list above is a large product with relatively large teams behind and $100+ billion dollars capitalizations in total. How on earth you can replace them all?

  1. It’s possible to create a product where you can replicate any domain. Essentially, it’s a database LEGO where you create tables, and relations on the fly, evolving them the way you need anytime. This is what we have already done at Fibery. Problem solved. We can replicate the static structures of the all tools above. [✔️ solved]
  2. 80% of UI in these tools is the same. You have tables, boards, timelines, and other views everywhere. Every single vendor reinvents the wheel over and over again creating custom UI representations of the domain data. Sometimes I wonder how wasteful is this, but you have to own your components to improve them based on your users’ feedback and new data. It’s possible to create a set of UI components that will fit almost all use cases good enough. This is what we have at Fibery partially. Some UI components we have are crappy, but, again, this task is doable. [✔️✗ almost solved]
  3. It is possible to create a workflow/rule engine that will close 80% of automation cases in all these tools. Again, many vendors solved this problem already for specific domains, but with some basic generalization, it can be solved for any custom domain. We have a partial solution and a path to the full solution at Fibery. [✔️✗ almost solved]
  4. It is possible to implement a general permission schema that will work for any domain. This problem is solved in many tools, but not for any custom domain. We don’t have the ready solution, but we have a conceptual model of how it should work and going to implement it this year. [✗✔️ not solved, have a concept]
  5. It’s possible to create a tool that mixes structured (database) and unstructured (text/diagrams) information in a good way. This is not a solved problem, but we have good attempts (Notion, Coda). As a side-effect of this belief, we think that it is possible to implement good enough document/text (Google Doc) and diagrams (Miro) solutions and mix them with the other areas of a product. [✗✔️ not solved, have a concept]
  6. Many other things are just replicated in all these tools: SSO, users management, billing, search, etc. You can just build them once. [✔️ solved]
  7. Based on our current state of development, it seems all these problems can be solved in about 10 years timeframe for a team of 20. Note that we spent 5 years on Fibery already and nailed the most problems as complete solutions or as prototypes/rough solutions. Fibery is already “good enough” to replace some tools and shine, but definitely not good enough to replace all of them yet (and that is our goal).
  8. Essentially, we created a no-code tool to help companies build all-in-one solutions. That was not expected, but it just appeared a path to the solution.

Who else is attacking these problems?

In my opinion, Notion and ClickUp are moving in this direction as well. I’m totally biased here, so please take my words with a grain of salt.

🐌 Why Fibery may fail?

  1. It is hard decision for a company to replace many existing tools with the new one. It takes serious effort and a company should understand the benefits clearly. We should learn how to explain the new future and show potential benefits.
  2. There are some unsolved technical and conceptual problems: Can we handle navigation complexity for so many use cases in a single tool? What about performance for 1000+ users? How to implement the remaining 20% unique things from specialized tools, keeping Fibery as a no-code tool?

😎 Why Fibery will succeed?

Here are several arguments:

  1. Fibery core can handle complex custom domains. You can’t reflect your company structure in Notion or ClickUp in a good way, while in Fibery you can.
  2. We already solved many hard problems and have a full (well, 80%) vision of Fibery future.
  3. We are focusing on a specific niche: product companies, while Notion and ClickUp are building very horizontal solutions. Specific niche has its own use cases, and we think that Fibery will fit this niche much better than any generic tool.
  4. We have the knowledge, a cool team, and plenty of time and money.

🌶 Fibery End Game

No matter the vendor, I’ll bet my money on this solution (well, I already did).

A single tool that unites work and knowledge management processes, thus helping product companies invent things better and build things faster.

P.S. → Try Fibery to see what we already have!

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Michael Dubakov

Michael Dubakov

3.2K Followers

Fibery founder https://fibery.io. I write about systems, software development and products.