In my CIO Toolkit: Quickbase

One of the things I look for when introducing new tools and processes is what I term "easy on-ramps". Basically, that means that a small group of "believers" (to steal a term from McAfee's Enterprise 2.0 book) can start leveraging the tool quickly and easily. It also means that as the Believers benefit from the tool and build up its use cases, these same on-ramps make it just as easy for the next group of adopters to use and see benefits.

Earlier today, Intuit QuickBase published a post, Taking QuickBase With You on how I've used this tool at BusinessWeek, McGraw-Hill, and some of my other previous CIO/CTO positions. If you've never used this tool, I suggest giving it a trial. If you've ever built a web application or a light-weight workflow, you'll see its potential very quickly. The Intuit post talks about how I've used QB to kill spreadsheets and build light weight work flows, but for my technical audience, let me share some technical basics:
  • Basic web applications start with entities and tables, then forms (for data management) followed by reports. Quickbase makes this easy; create a table, and it will create some of the basic forms and reports for you. Also, your basic tables can be created directly, by uploading spreadsheets, importing MS project files, and other options. 
  • Quickbase has some advanced field types beyond just your typical text, numeric, and date types. Predecessor fields can be used to create project plans with dependencies. Url fields link. File attachments let you include and version files.
  • Quickbase also acts like a spreadsheet; calculated fields operate on fields within the same row  -  something that can be quite cumbersome to implement in an RDBMS.
  • For basic use cases, relationships between tables simplify DB Joins by allowing you to aggregate information from child tables into the parent table and also look up information from the parent table and utilize in the child table.
  • The APIs are mature, so if you need to extend the application you have many options.
So for those of us IT execs with a hands-on background in application development, QB allows us to build, test, and try quick tools. But even better - building and maintaining apps can be done by a relatively large group of techno-savy individuals in the organization. Finally, the UI is intuitive enough for most users to pick up fairly easily. Easy on-ramps.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Isaac from a perspective of driving business projects and enabling collaboration with various parties. It's intuitive, and appeals to professionals comfortable with spreadsheets and ready / willing to take the next step in fostering transparency and critical decision-making for investments and business problems.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.