Visual Collaboration for Distributed Teams
In this exclusive interview with visual collaboration software expert Chandika Jayasundara, we explore the future of visual collaboration with AI. Chandika is one of the co-founders of Creately, a leading online diagramming and visual collaboration platform. He mentioned that the idea for Creately stemmed from their interest in a visual collaboration platform they had come across back in 2008 when they were first starting. Creately enables teams to collaborate visually on workflows, diagrams, and projects from any device.
Creately started in 2008 as a visual collaboration and diagramming platform. The founders identified a need for better online collaborative diagramming tools than desktop software like Visio.
In our conversation, Chandika noted, “When you work on anything that is sufficiently complex, it's a visual design that comes out, diagram, schematic, and so on, and a lot of information is captured in this visual form.” However, these visual diagrams were often flattened into static images in documents. Creately aimed to combine visual diagramming with underlying data and knowledge layers.
The initial focus was on enabling online diagram creation and collaboration, which was novel then. Over the years, as visual collaboration became more mainstream, Creately added advanced features for managing diagrams as live assets with data bindings.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Growth of Visual Collaboration Post-COVID
Visual collaboration has become a mainstream workflow need after COVID. Distributed and remote teams need tools like Creately for collaboration. The market has increased as teams realize the benefits of virtual collaboration.
Creately anticipated this trend early on. “At the start of COVID, we realized we were in a position where we had maybe four competitors. We were always in the top five tools in this segment continuously. And in the six months into COVID, we realized, okay, this is going to become mainstream,” said Chandika.
Emergence of AI as a Key Trend
AI and generative features are emerging as a significant trend in collaboration tools. Competitors are adding basic AI capabilities like generating diagrams.
Creately is integrating AI innovatively, like as a “co-pilot,” to assist users. “Having AI on your team to help you brainstorm is like a huge superpower,” explained Chandika. Applied correctly, AI can open up new angles of thinking and avoid groupthink.
Creately's Unique AI Features
Creately makes it easy to get started with visual collaboration with AI and diagramming. It natively supports over 70 diagram types with built-in conventions.
A key differentiator is linking diagrams into an integrated data platform. Information can be visualized and synced across projects and workspaces. Creately also integrates with tools like Jira, GitHub, and Microsoft Teams.
Streamline Processes with BPMN Diagrams
For enterprises, Creately offers advanced security and access controls. It is SOC 2 and ISO 27001 certified. The product is widely adopted across departments due to its flexibility.
With its strong vision and focus on enabling visual collaboration, Creately is positioned as a leader as remote work becomes mainstream. Integrating AI and data will further differentiate Creately as a hub for knowledge management across teams.
AI Enhancing visual thinking and collaboration.
According to Chandika, “Bringing AI and using it as a co-pilot or an assistive capability to maybe like another member in your team as you work through various problems on a visual canvas is going to be very interesting, and it's going to be quite mainstream, very, very fast.” He believes that generative AI can act as a “superpower” for teams, saying “if you take brainstorming, as in having AI in your team, generative AI in your team to help you brainstorm, because it opens up new angles of thinking.”
Visualizing Project Timelines with AI-Powered Gantt Charts
AI features aid In brainstorming
Ideation is the lifeblood of any organization, and using AI to aid in this process is amazing. Creately is actively developing AI capabilities and will soon launch integrations with Microsoft Teams. Jayasundara explained, “We are announcing what we're doing in a few weeks. Some solutions in the market space have gone live with AI. It's very rudimentary. It's what you get with chart GPT, a bunch of bullet points arranged as sticky notes. we have a very different view of how we will integrate AI and do that.” He added, “And we are launching with Microsoft Teams in a few weeks with AI. And that's gonna be a fascinating announcement.”
Visual Collaboration with AI to broaden thinking
A key focus for Creately is leveraging AI to enhance team collaboration and avoid groupthink. Jayasundara noted, “It still allows you to broaden your thinking without really doing much and forces teams to open up in ways they didn't anticipate or avoid group thinking. So many benefits are applied in the right form. It can be very, very powerful.” He reiterated that “Because it provides new perspectives for thinking.” I know some of them are hallucinations, but it allows you to broaden your thinking without really doing much and forces teams to open up in ways that they didn't anticipate or avoids group think.”
Visualizing the Future: How AI Fuels Creative Collaboration
Unique Creately Features
Database and linking allow multi-modal views of the same information. Integrations with tools like Microsoft Teams, Jira, Slack, and more. Flexibility to bring ideas, data, and teams together in one workspace. Chandika noted that the solution offers “First-rate diagramming with 70+ diagram types and conventions.”
Jayasundara summarized, “So one, it's an easy space to get started. It's a visual collaboration platform that can do diagramming as a first-rate diagramming platform. So we have native support for 70 types of diagrams, and each has its conventions and certain connectors, certain behaviors that we've made it very, very easy to draw and create.”
Balancing Simple UX And Advanced Capabilities
Creately aims to balance an easy-to-use interface with advanced functionality. Jayasundara explained, “And the challenge will be keeping your initial UX simple enough for general use adoption while still providing these additional capabilities. And that's a challenge to be had by everybody in this space, as the tooling itself becomes very, very generic.” He added that “the challenge is keeping your UX simple while adding advanced features. Want to be accessible to general users but also support specialists. The key is focusing on unique differentiators like diagramming and data linking.”
Visual Collaboration Integrations
Creately is positioned as a leader in the growing visual collaboration software market. The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work made this type of software mainstream, as teams needed new ways to collaborate visually while working apart. Creately stands out from competitors through its focus on AI and integrations.
Specifically, Creately enables teams to collaborate effectively around visual information in diagrams, flowcharts, and other visual formats. Its diagramming capabilities allow users to easily create over 70 diagram types, capturing the visual representation and the underlying data and relationships. Creately also enables users to integrate data from other platforms like Jira, GitHub, and Google Sheets, providing a centralized workspace.
Organizing Ideas Visually with Affinity Diagrams
Enterprise Grade Security
Recent developments position Creately for further growth. The company achieved SOC 2 and ISO 27001 certification in 2022, enabling it to serve enterprise clients with robust security protocols better. Creately is also actively developing AI capabilities, including an upcoming launch integrating AI directly into Microsoft Teams. AI promises to enhance brainstorming, idea generation, and other collaborative efforts.
Creately is an established visual collaboration software market leader. With a focus on enhanced AI capabilities and deep third-party integrations, Creately enables teams to combine visual information, data, and insights into a unified workspace for more effective visual collaboration with AI. Its growth trajectory positions it well to continue gaining market share.
Watch our episode featuring Creately: In this Software Spotlight podcast, Michael Bernzweig interviews Chandika Jayasundara, Co-Founder of visual collaboration platform Creately, on the company's growth from a 2008 research project to over 10 million users today. Chandika explains how the initial vision of diagrams with data layers evolved to a focus on enabling collaboration across tools like Microsoft Teams. With recent ISO and SOC 2 certifications, Creately continues to build trust and integration capabilities.