Apple subsidiary FileMaker is an unusual, often overlooked part of the Mac maker’s empire, one that has been around almost as long as Apple Computer itself. The database management software hasn’t been cooling its heels, however; it has consistently been improving upon its mobile native iOS apps since the iPhone version’s introduction in 2010, and that has resulted in impressive user growth: to date, over 500,000 iOS device owners have downloaded FileMaker Go.
For the uninitiated, FileMaker is a tool that lets users create management systems for sales information and leads, medical records, inventory, project management and more. It’s a highly customizable database management system, that allows businesses to basically build their own solutions relatively quickly, starting either from templates or from their own data stored via Excel spreadsheets. With FileMaker Go, the company initially brought a means for its users to access all of that stored information on mobile devices; now, FileMaker VP of Marketing and Services Ryan Rosenberg says the vision has expanded, and is much more about showing businesses it’s possible not just to access pre-set productivity tools on the iPad and iPhone, but also to build their own, tailor-made for their own specific needs.
“With FileMaker, since it’s a platform for creating solutions, we find commonly people have multiple solutions with FileMaker [unlike with single-purpose apps],” he explained in an interview. “And so people will deploy it for one thing, and then they’ll start layering other solutions on top of that, because we’re a tool for creating solutions, we’re not a solution in and of ourselves.”
FileMaker essentially makes it possible for companies to go beyond using the iPad or iPhone as a way to simply access desktop content in a format that’s fit for mobile consumption. Instead, Rosenberg says that businesses are now just beginning to realize that they can create something totally unique on iPad that’s designed just for their business – a canvassing system for door-to-door surveys, for instance, or a sales tracking tool made for floor staff at a retail outlet, with fields created on a per-location or per-region basis.
“We’re very excited because we think this is just the beginning”, he said. “We know from when we talk to our customers that they’re very excited about taking the use of these devices beyond simply personal productivity, to creating custom solutions for them. We think we’re at the beginning of the curve of creating these custom solutions for organizations, and we want to help them do that.”
FileMaker has been around almost as long as Apple has, but just like Apple, the company isn’t content to stand still, and its mobile success is a reflection of that. I agree that businesses are still at a very early stage in terms of how they implement and use mobile devices, and FileMaker’s flexibility definitely puts it at the experimental forefront of what we might see next in terms of how businesses use iPads and iPhones in the field.