Wrike’s Patricia DuChene: ‘Update meetings and email are becoming redundant’

13 Oct 2017

Wrike EMEA managing director Patricia DuChene. Image: Wrike

Everyone should be on the same page, says Wrike’s EMEA chief.

Two years ago at the Web Summit, the founder and CEO of Wrike, Andrew Filev, stated matter of factly that in a decade, nobody would really be using email for work. It sounded outlandish at the time and although email still stalks our working lives, Filev’s prediction is already coming true.

Platforms such Wrike, Trello and Slack are being viewed as a viable alternative, and even email champion Microsoft is about to muscle in on the post-email world with its Teams platform.

‘If you could see the work I was doing, would we really need to have this meeting?’

So, when I meet Patricia DuChene at Wrike’s Dublin office, I ask her how Filev’s prediction is working out.

“Your inbox should never be the one source of truth. New tools have arrived to declutter how people manage information and everybody is trying to run away from email, so Andrew was right. It’s happening.

“Why? Well, email is a good way for me to give you a one-way deliverance of a message but it’s not a good way to actually collaborate. Once email involves three or more people, it becomes an absolute mess. Heaven forbid you are working on a project. The minute documents get involved in the email, they are dead.

“Your inbox should never be your central port of call; it should never be the one source of truth. This is because your inbox is only yours, and that’s the problem.”

Wrike place, Wrike time

DuChene hits on the central point about the promise of the new enterprise movement characterised by players such as Wrike. It’s about collaboration and keeping people on the same page.

The new enterprise players are an antidote to the tyranny of email and platforms that were prescribed to workers, promising sharing of workflow but never quite delivering.

Instead, new platforms are finding their way into organisations, often via workers themselves who want to find a better, clearer way of achieving tasks and motivating teams. As such, they are becoming an irresistible force and epitomise the consumerisation of work where social media tools and dynamic software streamline knowledge sharing.

In Dublin, Wrike has created 50 jobs and plans to reach 80 staff by 2019.

DuChene ventures that because of these new platforms, even update meetings – jokingly referred to by long-suffering productivity-oriented workers as practical alternatives to work – are being sidelined.

“The fact that people have meetings for updates blows my mind,” she said in exasperation. “If you could see the work I was doing, would we really need to have this meeting? Updates and meetings about updates are not actually work. Every time you do an update, it is an hour of your time removed from doing real work.

She said they are unnecessary if a company can “find equilibrium where they can see the transparency and establish a single source of truth – and I don’t mean an inbox. I hate the inbox, I can’t make it more clear.”

Just like with Slack, DuChene explained that moving users to Wrike is a learning process. “Proponents see the value but at first, the challenge is getting team buy-in. Some complain that it is yet another tool to use or that their manager is micro-managing.

“When people start here at Wrike, they almost always within their first week send an email and we go, ‘Hmmm, we don’t do that, we use tasks and projects’. It’s part of the initiation.

“We don’t use email as a form of collaboration, full stop.”

DuChene said that the Wrike empire is growing. “Globally, we have over 14,000 companies using Wrike today. Our customer base in Europe has been growing well the past two years. Growth was 68pc in the first year in Dublin and 40pc in year two.

“Companies are learning that they need work management. But it is hard to break habits. While our world became digital, we mimicked operations that were sufficient for a non-digital world with silos, hierarchies and egos. Part of a person’s ego might rest on: ‘I get to approve that’, ‘That’s my castle’ or ‘I am a stopper in that process’.

“It’s a big mental challenge and we have to help companies to get around that so they can optimise and streamline. Wrike is a very dynamic tool that depends on how you use it.”

In conclusion, she doesn’t view fellow player Slack, which is just around the corner from Wrike’s Harcourt Street offices, as a competitor.

“We are a workflow platform and Slack is a communications platform. Slack actually combined with Wrike poses a very powerful combination.

“In fact, at the recent Slack user conference in San Francisco, both Slack and Wrike announced their integration. We are better together.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years