The discrepancy kept nagging at me.
I had spent over a decade at Google, where our team was building a fantastic product to help people find whatever they need in their personal lives. Want to book the cheapest flight? Google it. Need a recipe? Google it. Find the nearest Starbucks? Google it.
But while we can all instantly find whatever information we need in our personal lives by just googling it, the same doesn’t exist at work.
In fact, the experience of tracking something down at work is quite the opposite. Looking for more context on a new project? Try searching your team’s shared folder. Didn’t find anything? Ah, that’s because your teammate started trying to organize things in Dropbox. But most of the context is actually shared across several Slack channels, with the exception of a few Github threads. Try pinging the lead engineer for the source of truth. Oh but she’s on vacation. Maybe try her manager? If you only had an easy way of figuring out who exactly that is.
Finding what you need at work gets complicated really quickly, especially as companies grow, knowledge becomes fragmented across a wider array of apps, and the people who hold the knowledge are dispersed across the globe. I became even more acutely aware of the problem when I left Google and co-founded Rubrik. In just four years, we grew to over 1,000 employees, which was exciting, but it didn’t come without growing pains. In our annual employee pulse survey, employees not being able to find the information needed—whether a specific document or subject matter expert—was our biggest productivity challenge. Engineers were spending too much time outside code; account managers couldn’t find the latest research or presentation needed to close deals. New employees took too long to ramp. This growing problem was not only destroying productivity, but also sapping energy and detracting from our employee experience.
Rubrik was not alone. As I looked into the problem, I quickly learned that other companies were experiencing the same issues. Employees were spending 20% of their time (one day per week!) looking for information. The challenges were only accelerated by the digital transformation of companies increasingly using a larger number of cloud-based applications, thus increasing the number of surfaces that needed to be searched. This was further exacerbated by the rise of remote work; employees could less reliably tap their teammates on the shoulder to get answers. I searched far and wide for a solution, but couldn’t find anything that met our needs.
So we set out to build the solution: Glean
At its core, Glean is a work assistant that delivers powerful unified search across all applications used at your company—empowering employees to find exactly what they need. Glean can search across the entire breadth of your company and into the depth of the content within documents. It understands who you are, what you’re working on, and who you’re working with, to deliver highly personalized results.
Ironically, the SaaS explosion and recent technology advances that created this problem actually made it possible to solve the problem. Accelerated SaaS adoption meant that SaaS had become more standardized. This standardization of workplace applications, including the availability of permission controls and ranking signals through APIs, allowed us to build the very first work assistant that can easily connect with all of a company’s apps in under two hours (and often within an hour)—which previously would have taken months for implementation. This was aided by large-scale data and indexing infrastructure available in the public cloud. To top it off, recent breakthroughs in natural language processing and deep learning enable Glean to develop advanced relevance models for search and discovery without the need for constant manual fine-tuning.
Over two years after Vish, Tony, Piyush, and I first embarked on this journey, our team is still focused on building a product that brings people the knowledge they need to be more productive and happier at work—and ultimately make a difference in the world. We’re only at the beginning of our journey, but I’m especially proud of what our team has accomplished when Glean customers share that their employees are saving two hours per employee per week, just by having a better way to find information. And in the midst of a global pandemic where the shift to remote work has accelerated and burnout is on the rise, our team is more energized than ever to solve a need that is greater than ever.
We’re determined to help shape the future modern workplace where you can reliably glean exactly what you need, right when you need it.