PJ: Would you please elaborate on any process scenarios that you envision being enabled by the integration of FinancialForce.com and Appirio PS Enterprise? Are there any joint customers?
JR: Our strategy is to continue selling both modular and end-to-end solutions. So in the back-office space, we will continue to do accounting, billing, sales orders, etc. We will continue to offer PS Enterprise as a best-of-class PSA application and expect to continue to integrate to other finance apps. We will not close it off to just FinancialForce Accounting.
At the same time, we have already completed the first phase of integration between the apps. So customers or future customers of PS Enterprise can now extend it by the addition of FinancialForce Billing, FinancialForce Order-to-Cash, etc. We have more integration work to do, but the first phase is complete.
In a nutshell, we are able to offer best of class solutions in the salesforce.com style, but also an end-to-end solution for services businesses, of course combined with the Sales Cloud 2 and Service Cloud 2 from salesforce.com.
TB: There are no joint customers at this time of the conference, but we believe the change in ownership might change this. The combination of PS Enterprise and FinancialForce.com offers a more complete solution to companies of any size and gives customers the opportunity to run their entire business on Force.com. At the same time, enterprise customers also have the benefit of turning on only the pieces that they want allowing them to use the current financial system of record but surface more financial data in salesforce.com CRM.
Both products are built natively on Force.com so they are already fully integrated. Appirio will continue to use PS Enterprise to run its services organization, and we expect FinancialForce.com to be a CloudWorks solution partner so that Appirio can bring contextual PS Enterprise and FinancialForce.com information into a customer’s email, calendar, or mobile device.
JR: An update here: in the weeks since Dreamforce 2010 we have already signed up the first joint customers and expect to be signing more over coming weeks.
PJ: In light of our recent discussion on FinancialForce Chatterbox (see the related blog post for more information), how has Chatterbox been doing (in terms of traction, adoption, etc.), and will it play any role in this integration?
JR: We have a number of customers of Chatterbox and continue to offer it free of charge from the AppExchange marketplace. All of our apps are automatically enabled for Chatter and therefore Chatterbox, so it can be used in similar ways of PS Enterprise as it can over other apps. For example, the solution could produce the following alert: “A Project X is going over budget, please add the necessary team to follow it.”
PJ: Both FF and Appirio are native to Force.com, and PS Enterprise was also “Chatterized.” Can I assume that the integration will be a breeze?
JR: Yes, both products are Force.com-native and written in the same language (Apex and VisualForce). The first phase of integration is already complete and PS Enterprise can now bill for services through FinancialForce Billing. We will be doing more integration work over time though and this is currently being designed. PS Enterprise was already using Chatter natively as is FinancialForce.com. An advantage of being able to make a cloud acquisition in the salesforce.com ecosystem is the following: all apps are already on one platform with no necessary redevelopment to get everything onto one platform.
TB: We have always known that there were benefits to developing on Force.com, the ones people hear about everyday. But the fact that PS Enterprise and FinancialForce.com are both native to Force.com was another strategic reason for the acquisition - integration comes on day one. Chatter is already integrated as part of native Force.com apps, all customers have to do is choose to turn it on.
PJ: Why is Appirio selling this solution? Is the company now focusing on building cross-cloud solutions (CloudWorks) on top of marquee cloud platforms and cloud consulting (with the latter offering making Appirio similar to Astadia Consulting)?
JR: While PS Enterprise has been very successful as a standalone PSA solution, it is an even more compelling solution in combination with FinancialForce.com's financials solution (accounting and billing), also built on Force.com. Think of the following two reasons:
These solutions together, managed by one company, give services organizations of any size a more complete solution to tackle how they obtain the work, do the work, and bill the work.
This acquisition gives customers a more complete solution, gives FinancialForce.com a successful product with great market potential, and enables Appirio to focus its product portfolio on bringing cloud platforms together, not building a single application for a specific market.
TB: FinancialForce.com is an apps development specialist with a global footprint, who will apply its deep domain expertise to further develop and take PS Enterprise to a broader market, which is another win for customers. Beyond the customer benefits, for Appirio it is also a matter of focus.
Appirio’s product strategy has evolved in the last few years, focused more on bringing different cloud platforms together (cross-cloud integration), such as what its is doing with CloudWorks, versus building a single application for a specific market. It was challenging in the long term for Appirio to maintain a dedicated staff and feet-on-the-street for a PSA product with a vertical market focus (given the company’s broader cloud computing charter).
PJ: Who will sell the integrated product now, and how is the channel ramp-up going?
JR: FinancialForce.com will be taking on sales and will be bringing across sales staff as part of the agreement. Appirio was already in discussion with channel partners for the product and FinancialForce.com is now involved in those discussions. We expect to have channel partners that focus solely on PS Enterprise as well as ones that deal with the full suite of FinancialForce.com products including PS Enterprise.
TB: The acquisition is expected to close in January 2011, so some details are still being worked out. However, Appirio will continue to deliver services around PS Enterprise, and both Appirio and FinancialForce.com will work together to ramp up the partner delivery ecosystem both domestically and internationally.
PJ: How will you ensure that FinancialForce.com doesn't slip through the cracks into a sort of a "no man's land" (which can easily happen with two co-owners, such as salesforce.com and UNIT4)? In other words, what will these co-owners do to help with regards to sales, marketing, channel, etc. efforts, or do you as a CEO have a free reign?
JR: The Board of FinancialForce.com is made up of me as CEO and President, with Edwin van Leeuwen (CFO of UNIT4), Chris Ouwinga (CEO of UNIT4), and George Hu (EVP, Platform and Marketing of salesforce.com). Both salesforce.com and UNIT4 are providing guidance, infrastructure, and back up support for the business as well as holding Board positions.
Executing is down to me and the FinancialForce.com’s team with their support. This to me seemed the most logical approach, as we get not only the support and backing of two large businesses, but also the encouragement and latitude to create the FinancialForce business in its own right.
PJ: How will the new product (with Appirio PS Enterprise) be called: FinancialForce.com, Appirio, some combination, something brand new?
JR: We won't use the Appirio brand, since that has remained with the majority of the Appirio business that we did not acquire. We will continue with the PS Enterprise product name for the time being whilst we revisit branding and re-positioning as part of the FinancialForce suite of applications.