Launched just last month, Automato is a Google Chrome extension tool that promises to take the tedium out of inputting data. Still in beta, Automato in its current form is useful for anyone who regularly faces the odious task of filling out online forms. Rather than manually inputting data or copy-and-pasting information from one window to another, Automato streamlines the inputting of information, enabling users to easily transfer tabular data from spreadsheets or other Web apps. On the surface, this might not seem like much of an advantage, but as anyone who has entered the same data into various online forms knows, the task is a time-consuming headache. As co-founder Adam Varga explained via email, “Automato is useful to anyone who works in the data trenches, whether that’s a small business, a large corporation, or an individual bent on personal productivity.” Varga even used the app to plan his wedding: “My wife and I had a Google Spreadsheet with all our guest, vendor, and wedding timeline data — and we were able to send that data to various web apps to mail invitations and stay in touch with vendors.”
Before Automato, Varga worked on media and consumer focused startups, and Automato’s other co-founder James Saadi spent 7 years working at Google, dealing with various business processes. According to Varga, the browser extension is a tool they both wished that they had back then. This points to Automato’s problem-solving approach to innovation: “We’ve been having conversations with regular folks about the data tools they wished existed. More than anything else, it’s those conversations that are shaping the tools we’re building.”
Let’s face it, the Web and the business world are engaged in a thriving symbiotic relationship that isn’t going to end anytime soon. Automato’s website rightly points out that, “Everyone is switching from old fashioned software to SaaS solutions that live on the web. The tools that businesses previously used to keep their old fashioned software programs in sync and playing nice were not really designed with SaaS solutions in mind.” It is because of this transition that the folks at Automato have focused on the browser which “can programmatically interact with web services both through APIs and through the front end.”
Not only is Automato a useful tool for the digital era, but it also solves a tedious and time consuming problem from well before the advent of the internet: inputting data. Until now, this problem seemed so rudimentary that most just accepted it, never imagining that it could be streamlined. What other basic problems do we face that could be solved with Web-based innovations? What other tools would like to see developed for browsers?