TecHR Interview with Dave Landa, CEO at Kintone

Know My Company

What galvanized you to start at Kintone?

First, I was taken by the product. As a non-coder, it was extremely empowering to be able to almost instantly create a meaningful software solution that I could immediately publish and start using. Second, I was impressed with the progressive and visionary mission and leadership of the parent company, Cybozu.

What is Kintone and how does it fit into the current agile landscape?

Kintone is a teamwork platform with a visual application builder that empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to effectively manage their data and workflow for better collaboration. Users can build, deploy and iterate on applications to hit the ground running without having to rely on IT department resources or outsourcing software development, but still having the necessary governance to manage access and data appropriately. According to a G2 Crowd report on real users’ feedback, 47% of Kintone users went live within a day, and 37% went live within a month. The easy drag-and-drop app creation and modification process, as well as the integration and customization capability,  made Kintone a unique tool to fit teams’ agile needs.

How does Kintone help make HR departments more “agile”?

Kintone provides a suite of “template” HR applications to get started instantly but empowers each individual to build fully customized responsive applications on top of those that can meet and anticipate a wide variety of organization-specific needs and processes without coding. The ability to build and change Kintone business apps instantly gives the ability for HR teams to adapt their software tools to the constantly changing business requirements with full flexibility.

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How does Kintone support automating HR tasks from managing payroll to administering employee benefits to organizing applicants and job candidates?

As mentioned above, Kintone has a suite of template HR applications including employee database, hiring tools, benefits management, payroll tracking, performance reviews, onboarding and training apps that HR teams can easily access and customize. Additionally, all the data from these apps can be related to one another with centralized reporting and automatic notifications based on specific triggers off of data changes, date-based reminders, and process stages. For example, an applicant fills out a form and a record related to the open position is automatically created in Kintone with all the information the applicant provided. Team members that need to be notified receive a reminder to review the application, provide feedback, approve or not approve, and send on to the next recipient of the record. Managers can view real-time charts and graphs on the status of interviewing and hiring for roles.

Additionally, HR teams can add information to apps on the Kintone platform and, using the granular permission controls of Kintone, create viewing and editing permissions based on each individual’s role. Employees within the automatically personalized dynamic portal of Kintone can search, access and update only the information that they’ve been granted access to so that for example they can only view records related to themselves of the more sensitive information such as payroll or employee benefits.

Kintone is a fully customizable tool so that it’s different for each team’s needs, and each team member, based on their role and how they want to automate.

What does your ideal customer profile look like? Which businesses are the fastest to adapt your services?

Our ideal customer is teams who are tired of, and concerned about the poor security and poor efficiency of managing data and workflow using disconnected and unproductive legacy tools like paper, email, and spreadsheets. Businesses that have many steps and many layers of data in their regular processes, and require team-based collaboration to complete those processes, are usually the fastest to adopt Kintone. It’s just so hard to manage those processes and data and people with legacy tools and they find Kintone relieves their pain, eases their burden, provides transparency and centralization and most importantly, better teamwork.

How can companies benefit from your products and services in terms of increasing productivity and employee satisfaction?

Kintone is a powerful collaboration platform that combines messaging, a cloud database, and workflow together to support the team-based project, process, and operations management. Not only is Kintone easy to launch and use, but it also saves employees time by automating processes and data management. One of our customers, A-B Emblem was able to reduce overhead by 50% generally, and specifically, a compliance auditing process that previously took three days to do with their old generation software now takes just three minutes with Kintone.

How does Kintone support HR’s efforts to increase employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity?

Kintone helps teams collaborate more seamlessly, helps make key business data more centralized, transparent and easily accessible, and empowers employees to help build solutions to better manage their own work processes. By adopting the Kintone teamwork platform across the organization, employees become more efficient, more empowered, and ultimately happier.

Could you elaborate on the Heart initiative? How has it impacted your branding?

Kintone is a team with heart, which is represented by our logo which is a building block heart. We believe when companies blindly pursue profit, they turn people into machines, thus creating a society of “human machines.” Only when companies put their people first do they create a culture of openness and encourage diversity and collaboration and can inspire innovation and make every employee shine. This belief is what we strive to achieve daily.  We also work very hard to make sure our platform aligns with these values.

How can modern HR teams fully-transform their overall organization and promote collaboration and trust with technology?

First, HR teams should ask the following questions of their technology:

  • Is there any process or workflow or operation in the organization that technology can help improve and bring people closer?
  • Is the technology that is deployed encouraging or undermining team collaboration?
  • Is the technology turning people into machines or letting them be more human?

Frequently asking these three questions will help HR teams evaluate and enhance overall organizational transformation with technology.

Then, HR teams should consider if their technology is encouraging transparency, the respect of individuality, and the impetus and facilitation to take responsibility. These three elements are critical in building trust, which in turn builds better teamwork.

How do you leverage technology to promote inclusion and diversity in your workplace?

Well, successful promotion of inclusion and diversity requires more than just technology, but also policies and intentional culture. Technologies like Kintone can help promote the transparency that is necessary to instill these values. It also empowers the workstyle flexibility to support different individuals’ needs, which can, in a practical sense, empower inclusion and diversity. Technologies should be easy enough to empower people disregarding their technical level, age, gender, family status, language or cultural background.

Which Marketing and Sales Technology solutions do you use at Kintone?

We use our own Kintone applications for CRM and sales admin, and HubSpot for marketing automation.

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How does Kintone solve the problem of data silos in organizations and particularly for HR departments?

Traditionally, job applications, benefits, payroll and expenses and all the different parts of HR, which are live on multiple platforms. Kintone crushes the data silo problem by bringing data and communications into one centralized platform. Teams can organize different parts of their business with custom applications by pulling related data from one another. Discussions regarding a specific topic can happen on a dedicated space or record. Collaboration content lives within the business systems

The Crystal Gaze

Which start-ups in the tech industry interest you the most and why?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) start-ups are fascinating. They are an outgrowth and component of BPM solutions, but they seem to be evolving from servant to master.

What technologies within HR Technology are you interested in?

I think RPA is interesting again, but also how AI can help with the hiring process. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword though, as we need to be very careful that AI does not carry with it inherent bias. That’s why Emotional AI or AI-infused with emotional intelligence is really interesting right now. The startup Affectiva is doing some interesting things on this front that should positively impact the HR industry and society for years to come.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

We always say “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  However, when it comes to work and productivity hacks, I’ll say “it’s best to put everything in one place.” For example, Kintone is the centralized collaboration hub for our team’s day to day communication, information sharing, data storage, and process management. I eliminated the unnecessary time spent on juggling between scores of tools like Slack, email, spreadsheets, etc. which has helped me to be much more productive and focused now.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:   

Rana el Kaliouby, CEO, Affectiva

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Thank You, Dave, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.

kintone logo

Kintone is a teamwork platform with a visual application builder that empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to effectively manage their data and workflow for better collaboration. Recognized in Forrester’s Wave and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant as a leader in the space, Kintone is making teamwork better with the best software and methods for improving teamwork.

Kintone empowers and inspires anyone to build and deploy sophisticated custom database applications within a powerful collaboration environment that offers automated workflow and granular permission controls, rapidly, and often with no coding necessary.

Dave Landa is CEO of Kintone and has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) application providers dating back to 2004.