Dito Directory - Matching Customer Demand with Google Cloud Technology

MAY 18, 2010
This post is part of the Who's @ Google I/O, a series of blog posts that give a closer look at developers who'll be speaking or demoing at Google I/O. This guest post is written by Jim McNelis, co-founder and principal of Dito, who will be demoing as part of the Developer Sandbox.

As an early Google Apps Authorized Resellers, Dito, an IT services company I co-founded in 2007, has become a trusted advisor to a diverse group of organizations using Google Apps. We’ve established strong relationships with each of our customers and are a go-to source for information on specific features and functionality, best practices, and work flow processes. This gives us a unique insight into end-users’ needs as they ramp up on Google Apps, and we continually work to improve our service offerings and our customers’ experiences.

Over time, we compiled feedback from our clients and noticed an interesting trend - customers wanted a better way to manage their shared contacts within Google Apps. Out of the box, Google Apps handles shared contact management via API’s, as opposed to a Graphical User Interface (GUI) which is most common. Many small organizations don’t have the resources to develop a solution to interface with API’s. So, we decided to develop one for them that could easily integrate with Google Apps to allow administrators to manage, and end-users to browse and search, shared contacts within their domain.

We appreciate the reliability and scalability of cloud-based solutions and wanted our application to live “in the cloud” as well. After extensive research, we determined that Google App Engine was the right platform for our application since it works seamlessly with other products and tools within the Google ecosystem like Google Web Toolkit and the Google Apps APIs. From there, we set out to develop our app: Dito Directory for Google Apps.

Dito Directory represented Dito’s first foray into the development business. Sure, our developers had years of experience, but our team was new and we were preparing to develop apps on the bleeding edge of technology. In years prior, developing an application with this functionality and accessibility would have been an expensive and exhaustive process which would have required client-side application development and everything that goes with it.

Google App Engine and the Google Apps Marketplace erased these challenges and provide us with a simple yet elegant platform and distribution channel to deliver our application to the masses. From concept to delivery, the application took two developers less than four months to complete - just in time for the launch of the Google Apps Marketplace.

Since then, almost 1000 Google Apps admins have installed Dito Directory on their domain resulting in numerous happy admins and end-users. I hate to say it, but it wasn’t hard to get 1000 people to install our app either. We basically relied on our existing customer base and the popularity of the Google Apps Marketplace to advertise our apps. There has been not been a significant marketing push or advertising dollar spent...we simply developed the application, launched it on the marketplace, and now watch about 15 domains install Dito Directory every day.

With all of the installs, we received great feedback from our customers, and our team continues to improve the functionality and performance of the app. As a result, Directory continues to evolve to meet customers needs. We don’t have to guess what users want, we simply listen to what they have to say and iterate accordingly. And since our app is cloud-based, upgrades are easy. There is no additional software to install. After we release new features, simply refresh your browser and the app is updated.

During Google I/O this week, our team will showcase Dito Directory in the Enterprise pod at the Developer Sandbox. If you’re attending the conference, please stop by to chat about our app, give us feedback, or just say hello. We’ll also be giving away the paid version of our app to 10 lucky winners at the conference, and other exciting prizes. I hope to see you there.

Posted by Jim McNelis, co-founder and principal of Dito