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Apple's Claris brings digital transformation to the rest of us


Wholly-owned Apple subsidiary Claris has introduced Claris Connect, a new solution that provides smaller enterprises with the chance to compete with larger firms when it comes to the benefits of digital transformation.

I reached out to Claris CEO Brad Freitag to find out more about the new solution.

The digital transformation challenge

For all the talk of digital efficiency, the challenge of digital transformation is that the benefits of such transformation are far easier to see if you are a huge enterprise with plenty of cash to invest in your own solutions – or the capacity to work with the really big players in enterprise services.

The problem is that this means larger firms get more efficient and more productive, which puts smaller competitors under pressure, as they find themselves unable to compete on a digitally level playing field.

To compete, most smaller business users end up using a tapestry of different third-party services for various tasks:

They might use Box, Slack and Trello for various tasks, and while some integration between the apps is possible, automated processes unique to business needs might be harder to put in place. What’s needed is some way to securely tie all these solutions together in order to create unique workflow models.

This is what Claris Connect is built to do.

Claris Connect brings the apps together

Connect is a cloud service that helps integrate and automate the kinds of third-party apps and services typically used by smaller business users. The idea is that small business users can get the same kind of automated business process advantages as those enjoyed by those bigger outfits.

“In the modern app economy, IT is shifting away from providing monolithic, comprehensive software systems because they are costly and inefficient to build and maintain. This is particularly true for SMB companies that have to run lean to compete. Instead, best in class apps and services with the economies of cloud scale make a lot more sense,” Brad Freitag, CEO Claris told me.

The problem is that a typical workplace ends up demanding multiple tasks and workflows across a growing number of apps. This leaves workers spending more time “between” apps, manually moving data around in repetitive time-consuming workflows:

“By stitching those apps into automated workflows, employees get that time back and can focus on the important, creative aspects of their work,” he said.

The system also makes it easier for firms to use cloud apps and services. That is important because doing so reduces the need for employees to rely on spreadsheets or shadow-IT.

This integrated approach helps a business control data storage/flow and may help it identify the kind of business process insights larger organizations are learning to exploit today.

Why on earth does this matter?

We are transforming into a deeply automated world. Artificial intelligence extends far beyond asking Siri to play 70’s Soul classics into the actual automation of business processes, practices and (increasingly) development of deeply personalized solutions across both B2B and B2C markets.

In a sense, this isn’t new, it’s just optimized.

“Automated workflows are simply the coordination of apps and services to integrate and process data in a working sequence without the need for human intervention,” said Freitag.

He provided a brief explanation of how Claris Core workflows function:

“Workflows start with a triggering event. That trigger could be a customer submitting a web form, or an IoT sensor reading a high temperature, or an employee sending an email to the help desk, etc. Then, following that trigger, steps are taken in sequence among other apps," Freitag said.

“So, following the customer web form, perhaps an event reservation record is created in one app, food preferences are submitted to a hospitality system, a thank you email is returned to the customer, and the events team gets messaged with an updated attendee count," he said. "All automatically and immediately. The customer experience is better, and the event team has current data where they need it, instantly.

“The best part is these automations can be built in minutes. The ROI potential is massive. So, the opportunity for businesses to dramatically tune and transform their workplace has never been better,” he said.

“The speed of digital transformation happening in every industry demands hyper-agility and the ability to go from idea to workflow in minutes."

Under the hood with Connect

With an easy-to-use graphical user interface, Claris Connect is a flexible solution in that it has been built to perform as a no-code, low code and coded solution. That means it offers a bunch of useful templates for many tasks (such as managing leads, tracking IT job tickets, handling order processing and other critical tasks), and includes powerful features for development on its base.

As a result, Claris developers can build bespoke solutions for clients, leveraging third-party tools and the powerful FileMaker platform.

The product launches with 50 connectors (services it integrates), including widely used applications such as Trello, Slack and Box and service-led solutions such as DocuSign, Mailchimp, QuickBooks. You can also connect third-party APIs from other apps using HTTP POST commands, so long as they are supported.

Claris Connect is built on the Claris Core, which means DevOps, CloudOps and SecOps teams can work together on the market-tested code to ensure users have the latest technologies and strongest security. 

Security support includes end-to-end encryption, HSM key management, OAuth, MFA, AI-based threat protection.

Up next

It is interesting that the Apple subsidiary has invested in creating a solution of this kind. It's pretty clear that the benefits of digital transformation should be made available across all business sectors, large and small – particularly if we are to avoid continued homogenization by major entities across every part of life.

So I think this product meets Apple's core mission of enabling humans with technology, while at the same time appealing to Claris's core business markets.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.


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