What news from AWS re:Invent last week will have the most impact on you?
Amazon Q, an AI chatbot for explaining how AWS works.
Super-fast S3 Express storage.
New Graviton 4 processor instances.
Emily Freeman leaving AWS.
I don't use AWS, so none of this will affect me.
Frontend Development / Software Development / Tech Life

Notion’s New Features Support Enterprise Developer Use

Notion is evolving from a productivity tool into a central repository for enterprise engineers and developers.
Nov 3rd, 2023 11:19am by
Featued image for: Notion’s New Features Support Enterprise Developer Use
Image via Unsplash.

The popular developer productivity tool Notion is introducing an enterprise suite to help IT development teams manage developers’ individual notions.

Notion is a wiki-style platform that’s designed to be easy to edit and add pages, task management, project tracking, to-do lists, tables and bookmarks. It includes a variety of templates for work and hobbies, which the company centralized into a template gallery this year.

The company has found success with a land-and-expand approach, with developers using the tool individually and then introduce it into the enterprise, according to Birkan Icacan, Notion’s head of product who leads the enterprise, API & platform, and infrastructure teams. As a result, Notion is seeing growth now in the mid-market and enterprise space.

“Individual users start using Notion in their personal lives and then they love it so much that they actually start bringing it into work. They start using it as part of their team setting,” Icacan said. “It reached a stage that we basically start engaging with the IT decision makers within the company.”

Popular Developer Use Cases

A 2023 Stack Overflow Developer survey found that approximately 18% used Notion, although it was more widely used by those learning to code, with 26% turning to Notion compared to 23% for Trello. Notion would like to expand its use by professional developers in enterprises.

Currently, it’s primarily used by developers for documentation and managing information, particularly in engineering product design (EPD), Icacan said.

“As engineering organizations, EPD organizations, as they think about their engineering tech specs, as they think about their product requirements, documents, think about their roadmaps, product strategy plans, etc.; basically, the number one use case is using Notion as a way to document all this organizational knowledge,” he told The New Stack.

The second use case Notion sees is tracking project progress on different tools, using Notion as central hub for all the different tools used to track the progress on those projects.

“With the launch of Notion Projects early this year, we are also allowing EPD teams to track the progress of those projects right within a Notion so that you can have the content and the project management experience live, side by side, without you context switching to many different applications,” he said.

In that way, it addresses a pain point for organizations, because it acts as a central knowledge repository, he added.

“Organizational knowledge is actually fragmented across many different applications,” he said. “As the size of the company grows, all these different information silos pop up, information [is] scattered amid applications like Microsoft suite, Google suite, Jira, Confluence, or Salesforce. It’s scattered across many different places and this actually hurts information discovery, this actually hurts employee collaboration.”

Notion’s Integrations and Data Security

Decision makers are looking for a way to centralize information, he said. Notion, with its ecosystem of integrations, hopes to address this problem. For instance, the company has partnered with Datadog, Panther, Splunk and Sumo Logic to help centralize Notion audit logs with other SaaS apps.

Not surprisingly, though, IT leaders have concerns about what individual developers are including in their work Notions, particularly as it relates to security and compliance issues.

“Our aim with DLP [data loss prevention] integrations is to help customers secure their sensitive data,” he said. “These integrations monitor all content to prevent data leaks and safeguard sensitive information. Based on an IT admin’s preferences, these tools can detect sensitive content in workspaces and take actions — such as removing guests, unpublishing pages, or redacting page content. We have partnered with Nightfall and Polymer to achieve this.”

The enterprise edition also offers a dashboard that allows development team leads a centralized dashboard that provides full visibility and control across all employee Notion accounts.

There’s also Notion Projects, a project management offering that rolled out earlier this year. It allows developers to choose projects, tasks and sprints, which is a nod to the Agile project management methodology.

Notion integrates with GitHub, he said, so that when a developer creates a new task in a Notion task database, the developer can associate that task with a GitHub pull request. When the GitHub pull request is merged, Notion automatically marks that task as done.

Notion also allows developers to sync their database integrations with Jira; so it’s possible to copy the link to a Jira board, paste it into Notion, and Notion will stay in sync with Jira. The Notion database can also be shared outside the IT organizations, so the company doesn’t require as many Jira licenses.

“I can get the job done without leaving Notion, without jumping across five different apps,” Icacan said. “Through these types of sync database integrations, we can actually expose this information, not just to the engineering organizations, but across the whole company. So those are some of the benefits of our integration capabilities.”

Artificial Intelligence Tools

Recently, Notion added artificial intelligence capabilities to help write, format and edit documents. It also recently launched an AI-based autofill to help manage a task or feature request database. The company is also exploring other AI use cases.

“It can actually let’s say summarize the issue that you received from a customer from an internal stakeholder, so you can literally create custom prompts for that AI autofill property to tailor fit to your needs,” he explained. It can also be used to tag information on feature requests or customer feedback.

Of course, to improve the writing or summarize it, information must be passed to the AI service providers. But the Notions are not used to train the AI models, he added. Notion also has a toggle to turn off AI if there are security or compliance concerns. The company is considering adopting a zero day retention policy so that the AI service provider doesn’t have the data more than a day, in order to provide HIPAA compliance for enterprises that need it.

Group Created with Sketch.
TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: The New Stack.
THE NEW STACK UPDATE A newsletter digest of the week’s most important stories & analyses.