Appirio Invests Again in Core Salesforce.com Business with Infowelders Acquisition

March 21, 2011 Appirio

By Chris Barbin

If you’ve been following this blog or Appirio over the last few years, you know we talk a lot about how we’re investing in new areas that keep us on top as a trusted cloud advisor to our enterprise customers. Areas such as CloudWorks, our cloud service broker technology, our expansion into Workday services, our ongoing work with Google’s technology, or our new crowdsourcing cloud development community CloudSpokes regularly make it into this blog.

One thing we don’t do as much “launching” around is the work we’re doing with salesforce.com and their platform. Perhaps this is because it’s so core to our DNA and what we do day in and day out on the ground with hundreds of customers (which we do talk about with a bit of frequency!)

So it’s interesting to note that in the last month, we’ve had two announcements (OK, one blog, one actual press release) around how we’re investing in our core salesforce.com services business. The first was the acquisition of the TRE3 Group which brought us great process and strategy expertise around CRM, sales operations and how to create a social business using technologies like Chatter. Today we’re announcing the acquisition of Infowelders, a well respected salesforce.com consulting shop based in the Midwest.

While Infowelders may not be a household name, you’d be surprised at how often their name came up when talking to customers, prospects and even Salesforce itself. They’ve been around for almost seven years, helped more than 250 customers take their first steps to the cloud, and in the process, have built a well-respected, talented team that folks in the upper reaches of Salesforce and our other partners call “smart,” “reliable,” and “good people.”

To get a flavor of the team from Infowelders and understand why I’m so excited they’ve joined forces with Appirio, here are a few questions that I asked Adam Wiebe, their president and CEO.

Q: Infowelders may be based in the Midwest, but you’ve got strong ties to Silicon Valley and the enterprise software world. Can you give us some insight into your background and how Infowelders got started?
In 1993 I was working at Oracle when the first web app server hit the market allowing the browser to replace fat clients. Talk about a genie being let out of the bottle! Shortly thereafter, I was working with one of the first patented 100% Java applications and had the good fortune of meeting James Gosling (father of the Java programming language). Since that day I’ve been excited about the cloud and how to use the browser and Internet to its fullest potential, and have dedicated my career to providing commercial grade applications delivered via the cloud.

Infowelders first came to be when I was an account executive at Salesforce in the early days. In 2004, there was an obvious need for quality implementation partners, and I convinced my wife Hendy (who has some serious project management chops) to start a company in this area. Once she had jumped into the deep end of the pool, she (and I) saw what a big opportunity this was. I joined her as the second employee.

Q: Infowelders opened up shop when salesforce.com wasn’t such a household name like it is today. What convinced you this was the right partner to attach yourself to and that cloud/SaaS/on-demand was going to be such a game changer for companies?
From Day 1, Marc Benioff and Parker Harris at Salesforce set out to create the next great computing platform (even if that’s not what they called it at the time). CRM just happened to be the first killer app they chose to build on what we now know as Force.com. Seeing first hand how successful Marc was managing Oracle’s Rapid Application Development tools (Designer/Developer 2000) gave me unbridled confidence into where Salesforce was going. That and my own frustration watching just how much money and time was being poured into traditional IT efforts that resulted in very little business value convinced me cloud was the future.

Q: You’ve done some really interesting work with Force.com and Salesforce’s mobile platform in the last few years. Can you tell us about some of these projects and why you think mobile is going to be such a powerful tool for enterprises moving to the cloud?
We’ve been involved in a lot of great projects using the platform, but I think our most impressive custom development example was a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solution that dramatically improved the efficiency, timeliness and quality of a customer’s quoting process. It had over 1.2M lines of Apex code, and cost-effectively automated a critical business process. Regarding mobile, one of the most exciting was the International Mobile Site Surveying app we did at Brown-Forman, which has been deployed already to a half dozen countries on multiple device platforms with plans to roll it out company-wide. I also literally can’t keep our developers away from leveraging Adobe’s flex framework to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIA). It’s the ideal combination of database.com with a super-lush interface.

Q: Not that this acquisition is akin to winning the Super Bowl, but what’s the first thing you’re going to do as part of Appirio? What are you most excited about?
That’s easy! Without question what I am personally most excited about is introducing Appirio’s CloudWorks broker technology to our customers. Using Google Apps as a console for interacting with all enterprise data is the best technology strategy I have seen in my 20 years in software.

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