AppFusions: Simplifying the Too Many Systems Problem – Integrating Complex to Simplex

The amazing thing about the rise of cloud applications is the amazing number of highly specific applications that have been created. Utilmately, the rise of all these individual apps has made life better for businesses. Sometimes, while the rise of SaaS apps has been beneficial, it has also made things chaotic: all cloud (or on-premise) apps have different user interfaces, experiences, purposes, flows, data formats, logins and more. The more they simplify with target objectives, the more they complicate by the sheer abundance of apps needed to do one’s daily work. Inevitably, we all fall into a collaboration paradox.

In observing this pervasive and growing problem, Ellen Feaheny CEO and Co-founder of AppFusions started working on it, establishing AppFusions to solve “digital collaboration paradox” problems.

AppFusions is a pioneer and market leader in “packaged” integration applications for cloud or on-premise systems. Their expertise and focus is in bringing the most used but silo’d SaaS or on-premise enterprise systems together for cohesive work processes, efficiencies, and collaborations.

Their solutions are end-to-end integration “applications” that extend and complement workflows (including seamless SSO/authentications) with use-case driven UIs/user experiences to increase both productivity and user engagement. Their solutions bridge many systems, including IBM Connections, Salesforce, Box, Dropbox, Atlassian JIRA, Confluence, GitHub, Zendesk, Doxygen, ServiceNow, Google Drive, GitLab, WordPress, Asana, Sharepoint, and many more. Their solutions are readily available and do not require a team of customer-side engineers to deploy, build, and sustain.

Leading up to AppFusions

Ellen’s passion for AppFusions was built up via years of experience working in companies and with product APIs that promised: “if you build it, they will come” (referring to the APIs or SDKs as “it”). What really happened more often than not, “they” would not come, or certainly not in the masses that her employers hoped. In her view, integrations and value-add development were just not simple enough. That is, APIs or integration points are only that; they are enablers – but they are not THE solution.

In Ellen and her team’s experience, customers want solutions, not endless consulting or problems. They want reliable and sustainable integration strategies that “just work.” AppFusions’ internal guideline is “Don’t make customers think about HOW or WHY it works. Just make happy customers who do not have to think about HOW or WHY it works. It just does. System integrations should be that simple.”

Business Strategies

In essence, the AppFusions team turned the classic service provider model on its head. From day 1, the AppFusions team has always felt it was their problem and responsibility to solve the integration challenges in a reliable and sustainable way. This requires a constant and diligent balance about what application features, capabilities, and experiences to build into a packaged integration’s business logic and UI/UX.

Challenging Journey

As AppFusions evolved, the lack of development standards or technology maturity among many systems created a challenge. Enterprise vendors all run differently – technically and culturally. In general, most platform vendors’ integration strategies are poorly thought through, “under development”, or lack full maturity and vetting. From the vendors’ perspective, once they publish an API, they have done their part.

From an integrator’s perspective, this can be very challenging when you have to actually make those APIs work. Integrations will uncover the most hidden intricacies, and if APIs are lightweight or not practically vetted for a customers’ success, AppFusions finds those issues.

With time, however, these challenges also became one of AppFusions’ biggest advantages as their persistence, dedication, and drive led to strong relationships and experiences.

Message to Young Entrepreneurs

“Work and evolve with an open mind. Try not to prejudge your future and the relationships in it. You do not know the future until it arrives, yet there will for sure be unpredictable relationships and circumstances along the way.”

“Read, learn, daily. It should be like a second job. Never get complacent.There are so many incredible lessons out there – so be a sponge. Endlessly. Keep reading, listening, focused and move forward every day.”

Future Perspectives

AppSpokes is the AppFusions’ technology in support of their enterprise cloud integration applications and a growing family of packaged solutions. AppSpokes is a micro-services SaaS architecture running in IBM Bluemix and built to deliver dozens of mixed-app ready-integration “spokes” for 1000s of users and millions of end-users.

The first “host” platform for AppSpokes integrations is IBM Connections cloud. Further, AppSpokes’ “cloud-first” design allows for similar integrations into IBM Connections on-premise, using the same code-base. While technically cloud and on-premise solutions are deployed differently, the advantage of a continually running, growing, supportable, and scalable design for the customer, with rich capabilities and a logical holistic roadmap, is huge.

Over the coming quarters and years, Ellen and her team’s expectations are that AppSpokes service, technology, and solutions will grow substantially, including the roll-in of cognitive capabilities in 2017.