Canva sharpens focus on enterprises as a refreshed UI waits to be discovered - Hindustan Times
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Canva sharpens focus on enterprises as a refreshed UI waits to be discovered

May 23, 2024 10:03 PM IST

The biggest singular update marks the company embarking on its second decade, and there is an attempt to appeal to enterprise and business users as well, even as functionality is enhanced for personal usage

LOS ANGELES: Canva, a one of its kind application suite covering a spectrum of visual communication and workplace tools, has unveiled a significant set of updates that signify an ambition to accelerate focus on enterprise use cases. These updates and announcements at the start-up’s first global Canva Create keynote, forms a crucial part of the platform’s biggest overhaul in a decade, including the most profound visual overhaul for its burgeoning portfolio of tools, in the same period. This builds on a significant, artificial intelligence (AI) focused Magic Studio, released in October.

The Canva platform now has more than 180 million monthly active users. (Official image.)
The Canva platform now has more than 180 million monthly active users. (Official image.)

The spectrum of updates for enterprises rolling out now includes scalability while growing, consolidation of tools, collaboration options and greater brand control. The app store within Canva, will have more enterprise focused apps. Security measures are being upgraded, with standards including MFA, SCIM, SSO, and the in-house Canva Shield. The latter, Canva Shield for individual and enterprise users, are the set of controls for opting out of having your data used to improve machine learning and AI models.

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There’s a problem waiting to be solved, something the company has identified. As Melanie Perkins, co-founder, and CEO of Canva illustrates, “visual communication has become more critical than ever. Campaigns, employee communications pitches used to be a very text heavy, but now they’ve all become very, very visual across every profession and every industry.” That sees employees juggle multiple tools as part of the workflow – collaborating and storing documents, sharing, cloud storage and publishing, being some examples.

Multi-team organisations and integrations such as collaboration and approval layers, custom solutions for teams within organisations such as an ability to import assets or content from another file or platform as well as working with popular online advertising platforms Meta, Google, and Amazon to quickly test if a template is in accordance with their standards, are now finding integration within Canva with the latest update.

That’s alongside updates for admin controls. Canva says that more than 6 million companies were already using Canva in some capacity, before the Canva Enterprise updates roll out. Some global names include logistics company FedEx, communications platform Zoom, hospitality brand Marriott and enterprise management software company Salesforce. Perkins says their new workplace tools are customisable and will be relevant for small business as they are for large enterprises.

“We have over 90% of the Fortune 500 companies using Canva now. As that number has grown, we’ve received incredible amount of feedback about how users would like to use Canva within the organisation,” Cameron Adams, who is co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Canva, tells HT.

“Obviously, it’s very expensive to go and buy all these different tools, but it’s also expensive for people to buy learn, how to navigate each of these tools as well,” Perkins points out. She references “three-core challenges” that organisations face – the design needs for all different industries and professions, integrate AI (artificial intelligence) to ensure workflows are productive and efficient, as well as integrating complex workflows into a simpler solution.

That problem has since been compounded by generative AI, and a multitude of tools that individuals and enterprises are forced to use. “Essentially, all of these different tools hold different parts of your IP (or intellectual property) which is very important from an organizational standpoint. The AI tools are very fragmented. There are different tools for text and video and images and code, 3D, and speech. All of this incredible amount of organizational complexity, that companies around the world are having to deal with,” says Perkins, explaining the specifics.

The Canva platform now has more than 180 million monthly active users, including 20 million paying premium ‘Pro’ subscribers, clocking $2.3 billion in annual revenue. In fact, the upward trajectory in recent years has been sharp. They see enterprise users define the next chapter for Canva. The Visual Suite, also workplace focused, was released around 18 months earlier, and is acknowledged as one of the reasons why 95 million new users joined the platform in the months since. A contrast to a similar number of active users that signed up, in the preceding nine years.

The Visual Suite, at the time, sped up Canva’s AI integration, with OpenAI powered AI text generation in Docs, presentations, and whiteboards, as well as custom brand templates, to name a few. It’s taking forward steps, for enterprises and teams. Canva’s third party integrations continue to widen scope of utility. Some highlights, for consumers and business users, includes Microsoft PowerPoint and SharePoint, Google Ads, Dropbox, Meta Design Check, Google Drive, Google Photos, Slack and Later.

“We see it as a natural progression because the biggest growth driver in large teams and enterprises for us are the individual users, people who have used Canva maybe outside work and then bring it into the workplace. We have companies where thousands of people are using Canva just off their own bat,” says Adams.

Canva’s subscriptions plans for individuals is priced at 500 per month. Canva for Teams, which requires a minimum of three members, costs 1,140 per month including collaboration tools, an approval mechanism for teams, 1TB of cloud storage as well as updated security mechanisms. Canva Enterprise are customised subscriptions for organisations, with varying subscription pricing.

Businesses will also likely find value in the new Data Autofill capabilities, which the company says, can “business data from third-party sources like Salesforce and the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to automatically fill designs with text and images.” The advantage would be an ability to create custom assets in large numbers, in a short(er) time window. This syncs with Bulk Create, for uploading spreadsheets for instance, to updates images, text and graphics across designs.

A new UI and focus on teams

True to the organisation’s refreshingly unorthodox approach, there is a rather unique way to enable the new Canva user interface too. Those changes arrive for all personal and enterprise users. But those visual, functionality and interface updates for the platform’s visual appeal as well as editing tools that resides within that, requires the first one million users to discover what the company describes as a “secret portal” hidden on the home page. For those who cannot, they’ll be able to access the refreshed Canva platform sometime in August.

The new UI, called Canva Glowup, the company insists has been tuned for work use cases too. The editing experience, core utility for most Canva users, includes a new contextual editing toolbar while the one-click background remover and the Magic Studio AI tools have been repositioned for quicker access. Workspaces get the option for customisation, allowing users to place designs, folders or documents at the top of the screen. Filter, sort and expand options in collaboration have been updated.

For teams, there is the introduction of Canva Work Kits, which is setting the standard for curated collections of hundreds of craft-specific templates across use-cases such as presentations, marketing content, creatives or documents. Canva confirms that Work Kits are customizable and can be easily branded by the organisation using them. Alongside, Canva Courses is designed for teams and organisations to train employees to use tools, including the significant layer of generative AI.

Canva says more than 375 million Docs have been created by users, since this feature rolled out a couple of years ago. The latest set of improvements are set to add an ability to track changes, as well as multiple users collaborating on an edit in a document. There is also the integration of apps built by the world’s biggest online advertising platforms, Amazon Ads, Google and Meta, which should allow businesses to get feedback on designs. This will enable broader access to assets and templates approved by each platform, which increases chances of success with a campaign.

“We want to empower everyone from a student to a non-profit to a large enterprise. We spent the last decade focused on pretty much everyone other than the large enterprises, and we know they have bespoke needs,” says Perkins.

The privacy question

Since Canva Glowup, Canva Enterprise and tools for teams rely extensively on AI algorithms, there is of course the question about user data management, the choice to opt out and privacy. “We put a really strong focus on trust and safety,” says Adams. He details the in-house team developing AI models that most of the tools that make up Canva’s suite use and how they rigorously test these for specifics such as copyrights. For creators and anyone sharing their data for improving AI models, that method is an opt-in rather than an opt-out.

For instance, in the Canva settings, there are toggles to select between on and off for sharing general usage to improve AI as well as allowing sharing of created or edited content to improve AI.

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