AppFusions: Rethinking the Modern Digital Experience Platform

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Last week, I had a chance to catch up with Ellen Feaheny, the CEO of AppFusions.

Given the name of the company, logically, I was expecting a discussion about integration technologies, which is an area I have explored a bit on in my CIO Review-related research. For this interview, I was especially excited because of so much industry movement around digital transformations as of late.

Being able to simplify and enable technologies in modern, multidimensional, integrated and intelligent digital experiences is a tricky feat, one that AppFusions has embraced

Integrations are strategically central to these strategies, and I wanted to hear about Ellen’s thoughts around this. To my delight, I got what I didn’t expect: Ellen’s opening enthusiastic creative angle as she describes in the following.

Life’s a Beach—Ride the Waves

On the day we spoke, Ellen was in final planning stages for a 2-day strategic session with her team, in Encinitas, CA. It is an understatement to say that she was a little bit excited for it. I just had to explore that, so I honed in on the name of the event: Life’s a Beach—Ride the Waves.
“Explicitly, what does that mean?”

Without a flinch, Ellen enthusiastically replies, “Here it is. “Life’s a Beach” is a play on words, alluding to the phrase “Life’s a bitch” and meaning that in every journey— work, play and industry—at times it can be difficult and unpleasant. Also though, by plowing forward with focus, hard work, and challenges overcome, you get better, stronger, more experienced, and find success. We learned, everything builds on everything, and compounds. Like waves build up. No one said success was easy. She continues, “With persistence, life can turn around and become very positive and pleasant, like a beach! Further, if you ‘ride the waves’, well, you better be able to ride the waves for long, because that’s how technology and business is today.

That, in sum, is how I see AppFusions’ unique experience and journey in the IT industry.”

The tides had certainly turned. This is going to be one different kind of interview!

THE WILD IT WAVES OF THE LAST DECADE

When asked about the waves that she referred to so creatively and pragmatically, Ellen describes the slow and steady growth of cloud over the last decade. Cloud technologies essentially started with virtualization techs, like those from VMWare, which led to optimizations in data centers with server hosting, and then fully managed “anything”-as-a-service from infrastructure (IaaS), to software (SaaS), to databases (DBaaS), to platforms (PaaS), and integration platforms (IPaaS), etc. She passionately continues, describing two new categories in her world:

IAaaS – for integration apps as a service
DXPaaS – for digital experience platform as a service

Sticking on to her analogy, she further explains that none of these technological progressions were overnight, and all of them have had high and low tides in their last decade of evolutions. That said, over time, eaches propulsions helped compound the shared growth of all the as-a-service areas. Concurrently, the last few years have been burgeoning with demand for data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, business intelligence, blockchain techs, and mobile supports. These enabling technology services are building blocks provided by independent vendors and IaaS hosting vendors, all of which collectively has created a perfect storm to fuel any digital transformation’s strategic agenda.


AppSpokes and AlohaDXP are evolutions of continual realworld feedback, with active roadmaps that are steadily appended by customer inputs and demand

“As exciting as this perfect storm sounds,” she mentions in a lower tone, “The truth is that the technologies compounded actually creates a bit of confusion and chaos for IT departments as they try to devise a digital transformation strategy. Being able to simplify and enable all these technologies in modern, multi-dimensional, integrated and intelligent digital experiences is a tricky feat, one that AppFusions has embraced.”

Navigating a Modern Digital Transformation Strategy

Swells aside, the conversation turned more specific about AppFusions’ solutions, and how they help customers navigate and simplify a modern digital transformation strategic agenda with a flexible “umbrella strategy” for integrated digital experiences. Since 2010, the company began productizing holistic integrated solutions, bringing old and new systems, processes, data, and people together within common platforms via deep, vetted, and proven workflow integration solutions.

Including the new categories, AppFusions main product-lines include:

• AppSpokes integration app services, their iPaaS architecture and a comprehensive IAaaS family (25+) of end-to-end packaged integrated app services that can be securely made available in platform

• AlohaDXP, a no-code/low-code integrated digital experiences and workplace platform that brings together content, data, and disparate 3rd-party system experiences (via AppSpokes) into unlimited contextual mix-and-match purpose-driven digital experiences for customers (end-users, suppliers, and/or employees, depending on the use-case).

• Atlassian-server-based integration apps, AppFusions’ initial and sustained solution apps that have withstood the test of time (since 2010, ongoing). In fact, it is these initial products that served as key PM experience and design inputs to the later AppSpokes and AlohaDXP micro-services solutions.

Collectively, all of these solutions have complemented AppFusions’ vision, plans, and evolved trajectory, and common mission: ‘to bridge business, engineering, and collaboration systems with mixed-technology and contextual integrated application solutions to allow enterprises to work better, together.’ Through AppSpokes and AlohaDXP, the company mixes multiple system and data workflow experiences into real-time "single pane of glass" contextual interfaces (can have 10 or 100s or 1000s). The growing inter-mixed functional application flavors include apps by IBM, Microsoft, Atlassian (Jira and Confluence), Salesforce, Dropbox, Box, Google, GitHub, GitLab, Slack, Alfresco, Zendesk, ServiceNow, and more (such as homegrown or “lesser known” contact center or back-office apps.)

Below the surface, AppFusions’ technologies run continually in the IBM Cloud or other data centers (via Kubernetes containerized micro-services), allowing for secure scalable data center distributions to customers globally.
Their solutions can be deployed via different models, based on a customer’s needs or requirements for a multi-tenant public cloud, a multi-tenant private cloud, or same-codebase containerized versions of the services for local installs in a corporation’s own data center environment.

Hitting their Mission Target: Mainstream Ubiquitous Distribution

Since their beginning days, AppFusions' target has been for rich and deep packaged integrations to be mainstream across the industry. To achieve this, while technical aspects are key and important, almost more important is sustainability, ease of deployments, and security. The company’s optimized “cloud-first and mobile-ready” technology design with a ubiquitous spread for any web-app platform, and also being able to sustainably support multiple deployment models is a key design differentiator for AppFusions. Supporting all three models with a single-code base and developer extensibility objective is a hard path to follow.

But AppFusions never wavers from this key goal. The customers need it! The company stays current with evolving modern business requirements for integrated DX strategies. Ellen then quoted directly from the Gartner Forecast Snapshot: Digital Experience Platforms, Worldwide, 2017 report. "For end users, differentiated value and day-to-day operational excellence start with a satisfying digital experience. Resulting demand will drive end-user spending for digital experience platforms (DXPs) at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 percent to reach a size of $18.5 billion in 2021. The market opportunity for DXPs is fueled by modern business requirements. A DXP offering can serve as an enabling and unifying system to deliver multi-channel and personalized experiences for a variety of applications serving everything from digital workplace initiatives to customer experience programs.

At AppFusions, we directly follow these guidances in our every day work.

The Ultimate Wave: Primed for 2019

The AppFusions’ team has focused on far-reaching cloud and hybrid integrated web or digital experience strategies for years now. AppFusions’ no-code/low-code AlohaDXP platform takes the concept to the cutting edge of the industry, quickly, by embedding their large and growing AppSpokes integration app portfolio. In addition, AlohaDXP includes content curation, business intelligence, integrated app SSO, enterprise directory management, messaging, AI analysis, machine learning and much more. With AlohaDXP, in days or weeks, an enterprise can spawn dozens of new polished, working and secure deeply integrated ‘experiences’. Further, with the AlohaDXP "experience factory" framework, enterprises can save up to 2yrs trying to build such a complex technical underbelly, and instead focus on the cross-functional business requirements from constituents who will use the quick-to-develop and deliver Web experiences. Ellen informs, “AppSpokes and AlohaDXP are evolutions of continual real-world feedback, with active roadmaps that are steadily appended by customer inputs and demand. The model allows customers to be deeply engaged in the ongoing product development with iteration and innovation, together.”

Near the end of the interview, I returned to her session planning, and asked if she’d share anything that she expects to come out of it.

You know, every time we get everyone together, it’s like getting a 180-day shot of adrenaline. I go back to my analogy: the thrill is very similar to riding a wave. For 2019, I expect some of our biggest thrills yet. The waves are backed up and ready to roll. And we are too.

Company
AppFusions

Headquarters
Laramie, WY

Management
Ellen Feaheny, CEO

Description
AppFusions is focused on far-reaching cloud and hybrid integrated web, portal and digital experience strategies via holistic multi-system workflows, user experiences, extended app capabilities, SSO, analytics