OpenGenius, the developer of iMindMap and DropTask, recently combined the best parts of both applications in a new web-based mind mapping and project management tool called Ayoa. The company says it will continue to support existing users of iMindMap, but it won’t develop any new versions of its popular desktop mind mapping software.
Always curious about the thinking behind major moves like this, I recently caught up with marketing manager Caragh Medlicont, who shed some light on what this means to users of both existing tools and what’s next for Ayoa.
Chuck Frey: The Ayoa website claims that it’s the world’s leading innovation tool. That’s quite a bold claim for a brand-new product. How do you back that up?
Caragh Medlicont: Ayoa may be a new software tool, but the knowledge and technology behind it is the product of many years of experience and research in the innovation field; it combines the best parts of iMindMap and DropTask, both of which are longstanding software tools with a combined user base of over 1.5 million people. These tools have been used by teams and individuals from companies including Nasa, Disney, Apple, Nike, McDonalds and Coca-Cola, to name a few!
As a company, we have learned many, many lessons about the creativity and innovation process, all of which have been built into the Ayoa app. We are led by our CEO Chris Griffiths, a best-selling author and innovation expert. He has helped drive business growth for thousands worldwide, including teams and individuals from Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies, the United Nations and Nobel Laureates.
The truth is, very few tools for innovation actually exist. They focus on creativity or productivity but don’t integrate the two. Task management may help you fly through your tasks, but how do you know you’re doing the right things when you’re not taking the time to uncover the right ideas? Creativity software might help you generate new ideas, but puts no emphasis on actioning them. Innovation is all about applying creativity, and that is exactly what Ayoa allows users to do – so they can ‘work creative.’
Frey: What trends shaped your decision to launch a web-based mind mapping application and to discontinue development of iMindMap?
Medlicont: To be innovative, you have to embrace change. We firmly believe that iMindMap is a great bit of software, something that has allowed users to capture incredible ideas since it was first released in 2006, and it’s still something we’re proud of. Unfortunately, the technology used to develop desktop software is getting increasingly clunky and outdated, it also makes the release process much, much slower.
With Ayoa being web-based, updates and enhancements can be seamlessly implemented and used by users straight away, but with iMindMap, updates had to be developed and released in new versions which then had to be repurchased by users. Ultimately, prior to Ayoa, OpenGenius had a creativity tool (iMindMap) and productivity tool (DropTask) – we recognized that to create something truly innovative, we needed software which could do both these things.
Honestly, we don’t think it was trends that shaped our decision, so much as our recognition of the need to keep moving and growing as a company by giving people something they really need – a way to be more innovative every day.
Frey: Why not just continue to develop a desktop mind mapping tool for power users and offer Ayoa to everyone else?
Medlicont: That’s a good question – the simple answer is that desktop software is not the future. As an innovative company, we don’t just wait for change to happen, we try to drive it. Of course, there is a desktop version of Ayoa available for people who want to work offline, and iMindMap users still have access to iMindMap as it is a perpetual license software tool (which OpenGenius still supports) – so users can keep it forever.
Nothing’s being taken away here, but there is something new and special being offered at the same time with Ayoa – from our perspective, that’s a win-win.
Frey: How is the nature of work changing, and how did that factor into your decision to launch Ayoa?
Medlicont: The nature of work is changing rapidly, and there really are no brakes on this train. If you think about software and tech, it exists to make our lives easier – and if you cast your mind back to when software solutions first started coming out, tools were developed with a “one problem = one solution” mindset. The trouble is, we’re now using tech and software for everything.
Workplaces are inundated with apps which require significant onboarding and learning curves to use efficiently. We’re all so focussed how ‘busy’ we are all the time – we lose sight of whether we’re actually being productive, too. We app-hop and context-switch between various programs such as email, instant messenger, task management…and that is terrible for our focus (you can read more about this here and here). Not to mention that work gets lost, with employees trudging through their various applications trying to find where exactly they stored that particular idea or task.
Ultimately, in our world of information, knowledge is no longer power. Artificial Intelligence is continually advancing, automation is plowing into the working world, and in this landscape creativity is the differentiator. We know that individuals and teams want to progress and come up with big ideas, but they don’t know how – that’s why we’ve made Ayoa, as a way of facilitating that process.
Frey: Your website says Ayoa is focused on helping you bring your creative ideas to life and drive results. What makes Ayoa uniquely able to do this?
Medlicont: Let’s be realistic here – no bit of software is going to come up with ideas and action them for you. What Ayoa can do, is make that process a whole lot easier and more powerful. Ayoa is a facilitator, the same way a car facilitates you getting to places much faster, but still requires a driver.
So, what makes Ayoa unique in its ability to help you apply your creativity? Well, quite a few things. First, let’s look at the mind mapping side – it is incredibly speedy, visual and efficient – you can fire out ideas literally as they enter your head and there is an ‘idea bank’ which effectively works as a place to outpour all your thoughts so you can then arrange them later.
The next stage of this involves the classic mind mapping features: you can do all the visual things that make mind maps so effective by changing, color, branch style and layout – you can even add images, files and emojis. Collaboration is easy when you add others to your mind map, so you can ideate with others simultaneously. Mind Maps are always accessible across a variety of devices (anything with a wi-fi connection).
When it comes to actioning these ideas, there are a plethora of unique functions in Ayoa which make this possible – turn branches into checklists, add due dates and indicate urgency. Ideas can quickly and seamlessly flourish into fully-fledged projects, and because you’re not switching between applications, you don’t lose anything – it’s simple and easy to carry over your best ideas into the powerfully visual task management functions in Ayoa.
Frey: What was the reaction of iMindMap users to the announcement that you won’t be continuing development of it?
Medlicont: It’s hard to summarize the reaction – as predicted, we had mixed feelings (iMindMap has a lot of fans!). There was perhaps a bit of confusion with users thinking discontinuing iMindMap’s development was the same as taking iMindMap away.
However, the release of our roadmap (available here) brought an overwhelmingly positive response; organic mind mapping, Fast Capture, Gantt Charts and radial map are all on their way into the Ayoa app.
Expect to see organic Tony Buzan-style mind mapping out in Ayoa in upcoming months and exports of mind maps are already live now within Ayoa. There are so many features to come – within a few short months, Ayoa won’t only match iMindMap but actually have many, many more features to boot.
Frey: I assume one factor in this decision is that it’s getting harder to get users to upgrade to each new desktop version of your programs. Is that correct?
Medlicont: Actually, the release of the most recent version of iMindMap (iMindMap 11) was by far our biggest and most financially successful launch to date. It’s important to understand that our decision was innovation-driven above anything else, if we had come at this from a purely commercial perspective, we would have kept going with the development of iMindMap.
Ayoa has changed the way we work in our company, and we get feedback every week from other users who have experienced the great changes that come with adapting Ayoa, as well. Check out a recent article a user wrote on Medium, as well as this excellent Ayoa tutorial shared by another user on YouTube.
Frey: In your opinion, are we now entering the beginning of the end of desktop software?
Medlicont: In my personal opinion, yes we are entering the end of that era. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will fizzle out quickly – and there’ll always be those who take that change unhappily, but just as home entertainment has moved through the stages of VHS to DVD to streaming, things are becoming increasingly web-based. You only need to look at Apple dropping iTunes – they’re one of the most innovative companies in the world, you know that when they move away from something it must be on its way out.
Frey: One of the main things you’re promoting is that you provide an integrated toolset – including task management, managing ideas (with mind maps), workflow, chat and more all in one application. Is that something your users have been asking for?
Medlicont: Yes – we created DropTask, then people were asking for better integration between the two tools (DropTask and iMindMap), so we decided to bring the power of both tools into one. Ayoa has completely transformed the way we work by replacing shaky, duct-tape integrations used by other applications and putting everything into one, creative space.
Frey: In the short term, it appears your development team is focused on bringing Ayoa’s mind mapping capabilities on par with iMindMap. What’s next after that?
Medlicont: Lots of exciting things! While I’m afraid this all very much under wraps right now, all I can say is ‘watch this space.’ And of course, check out our Product Roadmap for the latest updates and watch out for the release of organic mind mapping, Fast Capture, radial map, presentation mode and much, much more in the next 6 months.
Frey: I noticed that Ayoa currently offers 6 integrations. As part of your longer-term product roadmap, will you be adding more?
Medlicont: Again, I’m not allowed to say much – though of course we’re focusing on making Ayoa a singular workspace, and we want to make it as easy as possible for users to adapt to the Ayoa way of working.
Frey: Like most mind mapping programs, iMindMap has always been able to export to other formats. Is part of the evolution of mind mapping to make it part of a more natural, integrated workflow?
Medlicont: Exporting Ayoa Mind Maps to PDFs and text documents is one of the newest Ayoa features just released. It means users can print mind maps and easily present them to others, too.
Frey: Where can readers of the Mind Mapping Software Blog learn more about Ayoa?
Medlicont: If you want to read more about why Ayoa could be the right fit for you, please see here. For more info on mind mapping in Ayoa, check out this page – and don’t forget to keep tabs on the Ayoa blog for regular articles on creativity and innovation.