For every established technology enterprise, there are ten eager would-be-disruptors hoping to challenge it. So when a successful software veteran leaves the world of the Fortune 500 for the start-up world, you can assume the technology he’s backing is something special.
That’s the case for Kansas City native Brian Anderson, whose experience as VP of Product Management at Perceptive Software, then EVP and CTO at Lexmark International, opened his eyes to the need for Applogie, a software license management solution that manages cloud subscriptions so organizations can forecast and manage costs, license use and renewals.
What is the problem Applogie solves?
“Traditional finance tools, and even traditional software asset management, don’t allow organizations enough control or insight into their cloud expenses, so leadership and teams struggle to keep visibility into their growing cloud operations. Applogie provides a solution to this complex problem by driving value, transparency and collaboration while simplifying operational processes, leading to a completely efficient cloud experience.”
How has your career path prepared you to spearhead the effort of managing software subscription costs for enterprises of this magnitude?
“I spent five years in software development at Perceptive Software, which was already experiencing the growing pains of a quickly-expanding company, before taking a career detour of a few years. When I returned, Perceptive had been purchased by Lexmark, an international hardware company. I was thrust into this environment of, ‘okay, we’re a hardware company that has bought a content management company, now how do we turn this purchase into a transformational group within Lexmark?’ As a big printer company, how do you achieve that? I was leading the product management group, so I had a real appreciation for what the product would have to accomplish to be successful, but the other components were foreign to me.
Then Lexmark just kept acquiring companies. It bought a BPM company. About three months into my return, we bought three companies in the span of two weeks – an enterprise search company, an intelligent capture company, and a higher education content management company. That brought the recent acquisition count to five including Perceptive, and I was suddenly tasked with rationalizing a message that created synergies among these products. That task – along with the knowledge that we planned to acquire seven or eight more companies in the near future – opened the world of possibility for me. I realized that this was the direction technology was headed – not just for the people producing it, but for the people using it. How do you integrate, rationalize and manage these sometimes-competing, sometimes-overlapping, sometimes-complementary functionalities?”
Throughout the processes of bringing these large corporations together, what were the biggest challenges you faced?
“I encountered two major challenges, and the first wasn’t a technology problem. When Lexmark and Perceptive first came together, you not only had two disparate technologies, but two disparate corporate cultures. Half the company was operating under the mindset of preserving where it came from, and the other half was ready to create a technology company out of a printer company.
Those dichotomies weren’t completely opposed, but they weren’t as well-aligned as most people expected they would be pre-acquisition. So for me, the major challenges came from exploding teams – when our largest acquisition came on board, we onboarded 750 people in one day. That in itself – keeping people motivated and aligning them to a new common mission – was interesting. They’ve been working to grow their own business, and suddenly they’re aligned with one of their top market competitors, because we had acquired that competitor a few years before. Then less than a year later, we acquired their third top competitor. Employees from every one of those companies believed their technology was the best, so we were challenged with trying to keep the best of all aspects – corporate cultures, organizational charts, product functionalities, customer experience, and more. Sometimes those choices are obvious, but often they aren’t.”
So keeping people happy and motivated was the first challenge … what was the second?
“The second major challenge was managing that amalgamation of infrastructures – bridging the gaps between the people, their processes and their technologies. I ran into an Applogie-sized problem, which was what originally sparked this idea. We needed to manage this combination of existing software, people excited about their new roles kept signing up for new subscriptions, teams wanted their new employees to feel included so they were handing out licenses without thinking them through … cloud mismanagement spread like wildfire. We found ourselves with multiple contracts for the same products, spiraling functionality waste, and a budget that never stood a chance.”
What gave you the drive to leave the enterprise world and create your own solution?
“A large part of the enterprise content management business I ran was helping organizations manage their finances in an automated way. When you look at what Applogie is doing now, we’re helping people manage the finances related to their software subscriptions, imagining how much more important that management will be even in the near future, and trying to apply the principles I wish had existed when I needed them. Applogie’s customers may not have the same magnitude of problem Lexmark had, after spending $2 billion buying and trying to integrate 13+ companies, but that doesn’t mean their savings won’t be significant.”
Why Applogie, and why now?
“This is a problem I know well. I think software spend is a key challenge universally, because organizations are so used to buying software perpetually and owning it forever. Nobody buys that way anymore, but the management processes haven’t quite caught up. People who recognize the potential now will be well ahead of the curve as the cloud and their businesses continue to scale.”
What keeps you passionate about the rapid-change world of technology?
“Cliff Illig, co-founder of Cerner, likes to say ‘you have to create a compelling vision of what the future can be, and then deliver on it.’ For me, that possibility is the magic of what it means to be in tech and product-building.”