by Chris Lundberg
When we first envisioned a technology platform that would solve today’s communications challenges for marketers and organizers, we thought good reporting and analytics was the core. We saw the problem firsthand with thousands of our clients who didn’t have the reporting infrastructure, the fast databases, the warehouses and analytics they needed. So we spent months building out a fantastic analytics infrastructure complete with column store databases, NoSQL caching, map/reduce processing, high performance, quickly processing billions of records, and using all the best new technologies.
As we started testing and deploying our analytics solution to our beta clients, we came to a very important realization about the “problem”. While getting good analytics was definitely a challenge, the bigger problem was actually getting the data in the first place. Logins, file formats, timeliness, changing and nonstandard APIs, details scale and formats, terminology, etc. These were the things taking up the great majority of time and training — not running statistical analysis. Basic communication and reporting tasks frequently require logging in or opening Google+Dropbox+Excel+CRM+Email systems, creating, scheduling and running reports, copying down CSV files, sometimes needing FTP or other transfer scripts to move data around. All this, just to get the data to the reporting system. Some companies we talked to had hired very high-priced data analysts just to move data.
This is when our first big realization came in our product development — we didn’t need to solve an analytics/reporting problem, we needed to solve the much bigger (and, frankly much harder) Integration problem.
Playing nicely with others is the whole point
Frakture is an API-First company. Not in the sense that we build our own API — that’s pretty standard for any modern technology company, but in the sense that we treat wiring together outside APIs as the very heart of the company. This is a new style of company, an Integrator-as-a-Service. This is a style of technology and business that believes playing nicely with others is more than just good advice — it’s the whole point.
Once we had committed to an API-First method to solve the Integration challenge, we realized that it helps solve more than just reporting. In fact, API-First represents a major shift away from One-Company-Fits-All solutions, that have been the driving force behind B2B technology for the last decade. And it’s happening in every sector. My partner and the Director of our nonprofit business, April Pedersen, lays it out in a HuffPo piece “Why 2014 Will Be the Year Nonprofits Finally Embrace the Cloud” where she discusses how the nonprofit software ecosystem will soon fundamentally shift from one-size-fits-all integrated SaaS solutions to one where it’s possible to integrate best of breed solutions to solve communication challenges.
APIs and integrations have existed for the past decade, but only in the last few years have APIs really become ubiquitous — the “digital glue” that empowers developers and companies to create new software applications, partnerships and entirely new businesses. In building a CRM company in the last decade, we used dozen of APIs to connect with different services. But the number of services available via API has exploded along with the number of ways a company or organization can communicate with its customers and supporters. In parallel, the number of available services for any given feature has also exploded and commoditized a number of different verticals. Need an email provider? You’ve got dozens to choose from. Payment processor? No problem. A low-cost or free Event Management tool, CRM, or an SMS provider? Just google it.
This commoditization has created an entirely new set of needs. Namely, how do you wire them all together and keep them in sync? How do you translate amongst the different terminology and data formats? How do you get good analytics!?
Enter the Bots
During the coming weeks we’ll introduce different parts of the Frakture solution — dozens of digital Bots that can turn your team into an army. Rather than try to build a one-size-fits-all technology or platform, these bots act like an extension to your team and help with the menial and time consuming tasks to coordinate ALL your technologies and data silos. This results in better reports and analytics, but also opens up a number of new possibilities in production, data synchronization, and business process automation.