AppFusions: Bridging the Gap Between Technology, Systems, People and Silos
It is widely known and believed in the business world that customers are the king. That said, the pathway from aiming for customer centricity to actually attaining customer centricity is a long and tiresome process.
AppFusions, however, stands out as a pioneering example with its designs, technologies, and solutions that puts the end-customer and their valuable time first. It does this by tackling one of the most harrowing and frustrating platform issues in the industry; that of seamlessly, harmoniously, and deeply integrating apps and integrated digital experiences.
The company started out back in 2010 with a mission to build and mainstream common app integration patterns across the industry and since then it hasn’t looked back.
The Inspiration Behind the Journey
Ellen Feaheny, the CEO of AppFusions, had worked across dozens of corporations for 20 years, witnessing first-hand the commonality of systems and processes within them, but more notably, the commonality of disconnected silo’d systems, data and processes at these companies.
She viewed the problem as simply illogical, more than technical; she thought it was ludicrous that platform/system vendors did not see the opportunity of being more connected with other vendors’ products. They did not seem to understand that the value to such interconnectivity far out-weighed the complexity.
She saw this as a product management “miss” across the industry. She’d worked with dozens of products, platforms, and SDKs over those years, but so many were missing it on depth of their API development or SDK programs, where customers could really extend and integrate the platforms.
The platforms lacked depth in integration points, APIs, or authentication supports – or worse, if they had these things, they were half-baked because even internally, the vendor did not “dog food” the usability of such things. The overall problem seemed to be a matter of short-sightedness and lack of product management focus.
Despite relentless extensibility requests from customers, there was a complete lack of ownership from vendors to properly implement holistic extensibility plays, strategies, and implementations for the customers. More likely, priorities were elsewhere, despite the obvious need, which would soon become an even bigger problem with the entrance of SaaS/cloud products. As it pertains to integrations, the need and demand for integrated systems has only increased.
“In the early days of AppFusions, my field experiences from working in dozens of Silicon Valley startups and large corps alike over years brought energy to the initial challenges on hand. Simply, I’d been around and seen a lot. This, and fortunately, a great engineering team, got us off the ground,” Ellen recalls.
Over time, Ellen’s role has evolved to being one of an overseer of the ship, the oars, the people oaring the oars, and most importantly, the vision place for where the“ship”is rowing to. Ellen is highly passionate and full of energy in sales and product management, and at the same time she is endlessly and consciously trying to evolve the team, grow their skills, grow leaders across the organization.
Ellen adds “This is by pulling back more than pushing in – which is hard for me. But I do realize, always, that I am nothing without my team – they are AppFusions’ brawn and backbone. And we only got to where we are via the collective determination and spirit across the board. It’s the combo that matters, always.”
At present, AppFusions has three main product-lines, including sustained services to support all areas:
- AppSpokes integration app services, an iPaaS architecture and family of “just works” end-to-end packaged integrated app “spokes” that can be securely made available in any web-app platform. The spokes include ready integrated experiences for platforms to connect with IBM, Microsoft, Box, Dropbox, Google, Salesforce, Zendesk, Atlassian, GitHub, GitLab, Slack, and more.
- AlohaDXP, a no-code/low-code micro-services-based integrated digital experiences and workplace platformthat brings together all of the AppSpokes integrations, and other key collaboration and digital experience capabilities, like content curation, business intelligence, personalization, machine learning, messaging, mobile supports, hybrid deployments, and more for unlimited integrated and contextual experiences, spaces, sites, portals, etc. (based on use-cases and audiences).
- Atlassian-server-based integration apps, AppFusions’ original sustained solution apps that have withstood the test of time (since 2010, ongoing). In fact, these initial products served as key PM experience and design inputs to the later AppSpokes and AlohaDXP micro-services solutions.
“When going through hell, keep going”
While enabling platforms to integrate deeply, easily, and sustainably with web-app platforms is a tricky technical challenge, through its journey, Appfusions learned that it was the non-technical aspects that proved to be a lot bigger hurdles, and not always logical.
More concerning was that the compounded challenge was even harder for customers Understanding and navigating invisible but present politics or false strategic timing has been the company’s biggest challenge in their journey. The market currents seemed slow to pressure the larger vendors who controlled locked vs. extensible platforms, and it took the proliferation of SaaS solutions to gain a fever pitch and foothold in the industry before the problem started to be more seriously listened to by the larger vendors. But even at that point, not until 2017/2018, the underestimation or lack of understanding on how to create a holistic integration strategy ran rife. To this day, most Web-app platforms still do not address this issue, a problem that in Ellen’s opinion has been critical to business optimizations for over a decade already.
That said, AppFusions’ persistence, perseverance, and “staying in the game” focus on its core mission has played in its favor. Winston Churchill had said it right: “When going through hell, keep going!”
“We learned that hurdles and challenges overcome compound and become strengths, and the valued progressions over time is what got us the necessary experience we now have. We are glad we never gave up.”
Change is Inevitable
According to Ellen, on one hand, the industry has changed a ton. On the other, the industry has not changed at all.
When AppFusions started in 2010, cloud technologies, models, approaches were more in their infancy than they are now. Now, they are the way of the future, even if it is a painful reality for some to evolve in their digital transformation strategies (as a customer or vendor).
At a technology level, yes, indeed the industry has changed, and AppFusions benefits from these changes, with newer modern micro-services design, development, architecture, and deployment models (i.e., public cloud, dedicated private clouds, or containerized Kubernetes deployments for on premise private data centers).
On the other hand, change is hard – and many companies fight the change, or don’t know how to change. AppFusions technologies are built on modern models, but as solutions, the company bridges the gaps between older techs and newer ones, agnostically and pragmatically.
“Our solutions are comprehensive, thorough, patterned, and deep. In almost 9 years now, we have yet to be asked for our integrated experiences to be less functional or useful by being less deep by customers,” Ellen exclaims.