Claris Engage: It’s Not About Us

by Scott Love - Partner
Claris Engage

The Claris 2020 Engage keynote just wrapped up a few minutes ago, and I was immediately struck by one overarching impression: Claris is focused on its community and the individuals within it.

Covid-19 clearly overshadows this year’s event, forcing us all to participate virtually, and frankly imposing many urgent distractions normally not present at a resort away from the day-to-day. No Lazy River moments for reflection for us this year. It would have been impossible for Brad Freitag, Claris’ CEO, and his team to share news of their technology plans without grappling with the changed world we face. Rather than pay it lip-service, he and his team leaned in.

Andrew LeCates, Director of Platform Evangelism, said “The pandemic is a ‘forcing function’ for digital transformation.” Each Claris executive’s introduction, spurred by Covid-19, focused on what work is being done within our community to respond to Covid and to support change. Andy shared survey results from McKinsey and Company that concluded that 90% of company executives polled believe that Covid-19 will fundamentally change the way they do business while only 21% believe they have the expertise, resources, and commitment to respond successfully.

Stuart Crichton, Chief Clinical Information Officer – London Ambulance Service, was quoted as saying, “Covid accelerated some mandates.”

Brad and Claris’ new VP of Marketing, Britta Meyer Rock, shared details of the work the company and join::table, an organization dedicated to supporting non-profit work within the community, is doing to connect volunteers with projects. (You can discover more details at and on Claris Blog.)

Throughout the entire presentation, I was struck by a fundamental consistency, both in message and, ultimately, strategy: it’s about people.

Srini Gurrapu, VP of Product and Design, and Peter Nelson, VP of Engineering, spoke about Claris’ own transformation – from being a database-driven app company, to focusing on workflow and business process automation. There’s a parallel there: as much as the company’s Engage presentations pay attention to people doing good work in the face of a pandemic, the technology itself is focusing away from forms and databases to workflow, automation, and, in Peter’s words, “the glue” that makes technology actually work for people.

Today’s keynote was a conceptual setting of the stage – we haven’t yet gotten details on platform and product plans – but there’s an underlying theme of shifting emphasis to what technology does, as opposed to what it is.

Ultimately, as impactive as Covid-19 is, I believe that Crichton got it right – some “mandates have been accelerated”, but fundamentally Claris’ mission remains the same: to empower problem solvers.

Here at Codence, we often engage with clients who are in the midst of change: they face a technology or process challenge and imagine, “Surely there must be a better way.” We’re in the transformation business.

In the face of Covid-19, that work is now more urgent, and in some cases differently focused, but it is fundamentally about helping people innovate, change, and respond to the demands of their circumstances. In this, Claris is leading the way.

It was great to see Claris focus on its community, customers, and partners by way of introduction to the rest of the conference. I look forward to learning more in the days ahead.

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