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Integrator Appirio creating waves
A cloud-based integrator has all the right ideas when it comes to making a splash in the future
Readers will likely not have heard of Appirio, a next generation consultant/integrator that focuses on cloud technologies and applications.
That's about to change as it brings forward by some six months its intention of expanding outside its Silicon Valley base into Europe. In the next few weeks it is setting up shop in the London area as the springboard for its European operations.
Regular readers must be wondering why this matters and who cares anyway. Whether you are a buyer, integrator or vendor - this is a big deal.
Here's why. I first met Appirio some three years ago during a trip to San Francisco. If memory serves, it was a Salesforce.com event. I was immediately struck by the energy of Narinder Singh, co-founder and ex-SAP executive.
It is always interesting to meet ex-SAPpers/Oracle types who have made this kind of move. They are almost always visionary in their thinking but with a common sense background in large enterprise. They genuinely understand what it means to operate in the enterprise world, where the weaknesses lay and what needs to be done to make cloud 'work' in a meaningful manner. Their projects are always fascinating to watch unfold because the approach is not based on traditional 'waterfall' style development.
In Appirio's case, it has figured out how to rapidly scale but without incurring massive overhead. It comes from the way they create developer networks where participants are rewarded for their efforts. Appirio's story is unusual but compelling. It helps that Singh and his crew are incredibly bright, super charged, running at the speed of business and developing solutions faster than I have ever witnessed in enterprise terms.
Example - the other week, we met up at Dreamforce and they showed me an amazing application that helps merchandisers figure out how to optimise branded goods retail delivery in target regions. This is usually an incredibly messy operation and fraught with guesswork.
Appirio took a novel approach. They tapped into their 20,000 strong Cloudspokes developer network, establishing a competition to discover the best solution. Not only does that cut out all sorts of mind-numbing design meetings, it means that Appirio was able to garner a selection of near complete proofs of concept in a matter of weeks. The customer gets great ideas and delivery time frames are collapsed. Where once it would take months to get to POC and then more time going to production, Appirio reaches the final design and implementation stages at the speed of business.
As Singh told me at the time: "When you can give the customer something that meets their needs in weeks, there is a very high probability they will sign off immediately. When they have to wait months, you often find the initiative has gone off the boil and replaced by something else. We don't waste time, money or effort and the client gets a fully working solution at a fraction of what it used to cost. Everyone wins."
It is this ability to operate quickly and efficiently that has led the company to accelerate its expansion plans. "We're all having to work much faster than before but even so, we spent a good amount of time thinking about our timing into these new markets. We see there is a building up of demand for our style of service in the Salesforce.com world in Europe so yes - there are some risks - but we believe we've calculated those pretty well. Plus we already have customers needing our services in the area. That's a good start."
In the blurbs, Appirio quotes IDC:
“The incredible growth we’re seeing in public cloud applications and platforms has opened up a huge opportunity for services firms that understand the space and have the resources and reach to help customers be successful,” said Robert Mahowald, Research Vice President of SaaS and Cloud Services at IDC. “Making customers successful requires not just feet on the ground, but an appreciation for the nuances of the cloud model and the specific cultures and regulations of these regions.”
This is a topic I've discussed with Apprio. From what I have seen, they appear to have a good appreciation of local needs. That's a good start and is supported by a pre-existing presence by both Salesforce.com and Workday, both of which are key partners for Appirio.
Oh and did I mention? The POC I saw of the merchandising app took ideas from Salesforce.com, Google maps, heat mapping, location aware photos all wrapped up in a simple process that works on a tablet device. It looks beautiful and its value is self evident. How often do we get to say that about enterprise grade apps? With that kind of 'stuff' in the works I can see Appirio scoring heavily in the UK. They will open up opportunities that cannot be matched by those working in the on-premise world.
Their progress will be a disrupting force in the enterprise consulting arena which I encourage others to watch closely. I wish them well because I see Appirio as closely aligned to customer success. Not in some fluffy PR way but by showing examples, asking questions and being good partners to their communities of interest.