October 7, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
A Project Management Solutions Company, LoadSpring Solutions Simplifies Life for Project Managers and IT Teams through the Intuitive, User-Friendly SpringBoard User Control Panel and Professional Services Group
About LoadSpring Solutions:
Founded in 1999, LoadSpring® is a Project Management (PM) Solutions company
that is dedicated to PM software and the people who use it. The firm’s
intuitive, user-friendly SpringBoard user control panel, combined with their
Professional Services Group, makes life simpler and easier for Project
Managers and IT teams. These professionals see LoadSpring as a specialized
problem-solver, helping them make smarter, timelier business decisions.
LoadSpring supports Fortune 100 companies in industries such as:
Architecture; Engineering & Construction; Manufacturing; Real Estate
Services; Financial; Gas; Energy/Utilities; City, State and Federal
Government; Entertainment; Healthcare and others.
“One of the things I hear a lot from CIOs is that they think cloud hosting will be too complex or too difficult. But in fact, LoadSpring has found ways to make the process faster and easier than they ever imagined.”- Eric Leighton
Project Management Solutions
Wilmington, MA 01887
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior
Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – October 7, 2013
CEOCFO: Mr. Leighton, your website indicates that LoadSpring is “Fast, easy, mobile. Now.” What do you do?
Mr. Leighton: Our main focus is hosting project management software in the cloud. Over the last couple of years, there has been a shift to cloud hosting, not only with project management software, but really any database-driven application. IT organizations are moving away from trying to manage business-critical software themselves, and are moving to more of an external infrastructure cloud service like LoadSpring. Our theme [“Fast, easy, mobile. Now.”] promises not only that we’ll speed up the software hosting process and make it effortless for our clients, but that we provide cloud access from any fixed or mobile device, anywhere in the world. Other companies make you do things their way and that is it. We customize our cloud solutions to fit your business, whether you need just the basics like software and data access, or more personalized solutions like ID management, integrations, and federated services. We even have an option where all your information is synchronized globally, in real time. LoadSpring’s job is about making the Cloud work your way.
CEOCFO: Who is your typical customer?
Mr. Leighton: That is an interesting question because when we founded the company fourteen years ago, we thought our primary focus was going to be small to medium-sized organizations. But it turned out that our customers are actually medium to enterprise-sized—everything from worldwide construction and manufacturing to huge banking and entertainment companies. Most of our work is with large Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies who need better ways of managing their IT structure. They are often dispersed in offices in both the United States and abroad. Historically their IT infrastructure was never set up to handle software access around the world, so they come to us to make it happen.
CEOCFO: There are certainly many companies in your space. What is special about LoadSpring? What have you figured out that others do not quite understand yet?
Mr. Leighton: One critical thing that makes LoadSpring different is our SpringBoard Cloud platform. It is a safe, secure web portal into our vast cloud infrastructure. One of the things I hear a lot from CIOs is that they think cloud hosting will be too complex or too difficult. But in fact, LoadSpring has found ways to make the process faster and easier than they ever imagined. These days there are many, many software companies that offer a hosted version of their products, but the challenge is that you can only get access to that particular company’s cloud or hosted platform. So CIOs often look at the cloud and say, “It looks too difficult.” Which is why they turn to LoadSpring to eliminate the problem and do the heavy lifting for them. We make their jobs simpler and easier with our SpringBoard portal, which is the entry point into our cloud. All of a sudden they see a vision of what the cloud could potentially be. With us, it does not matter if it is a Microsoft application, a BIM application or an Oracle application—because we put it all in one place in our cloud, which is securely accessible through the SpringBoard portal. I believe that is something that you just do not see anybody else doing in the cloud these days. Other companies are usually hosting a particular application, which means you only get access to the application itself, whether it’s a web-based app or maybe a Citrix space app. Using that model, every time you want to run an application, you have to know a different place to go [on the Internet]. If you want to use software from company XYZ for their hosted version, you have to go to “xyz.com” in order to use that application. At LoadSpring, all your software—regardless of vendor—is in one easy location at myloadspring.com. And there is another other unique capability that SpringBoard provides. Fundamentally, now that we have the focus of the user to get their applications through one central portal, we can also extend the management of those applications direct to the people who need it. In a traditional hosting model, whether you are doing it yourself or are doing it through another vendor, if there are problems with the software or the infrastructure, your users have to call IT. Depending on how you are hosting, IT may be knowledgeable with networking security servers but might not know anything about the software. It then has to go to another group of people who may be experts at the software. All of a sudden, you find yourself spending a lot of time trying to figure out who knows what, just to solve even the simplest problem. At LoadSpring, help is always centralized. The people who are actually in charge of a project are the administrators of a system, so if they want to add a user, delete a user or assign applications to a particular group, they can do it all through the SpringBoard cloud portal. They do not have to interact with anyone, they don’t have to deal with an IT group, because they themselves are the people in the know. They are the ones who understand who has to have certain applications at a given time. From a supportability standpoint and a software adoption standpoint, we remove the IT layer. What our customers get is high-performing 24/7 application access, on their own terms. Organizations and CIOs are very excited about this huge step of taking a layer of support and a layer of management out of the picture. So ultimately, the applications upon which IT runs their businesses are more successful. That means that adoption rates go up, efficiencies go up and satisfaction at the end user level also goes up. The SpringBoard platform really does a great job at that.
CEOCFO: What was the biggest challenge in putting your platform together and has the concept ever been tried before?
Mr. Leighton: It is an interesting story and a great question. When we originally designed SpringBoard, we had two major goals in mind. First, we knew that we had a couple of distinct types of applications we were going to be delivering to our future customers. One was web-based and one was client server-based—traditionally delivered through infrastructure such as Citrix. We saw a challenge in the user community where they would come to work every day and may have three applications that they use during the day to get their job done. One application might be web-based, so they would open up a web browser, navigate to something like “myapplication.com” and run the app on the web. They also had Citrix-based applications with desktop icons that pointed to a Citrix server within their internal network. It was a difficult way to access applications, so we solved that problem by having one easy-to-use web interface that was seamless to the user, whether it was a Citrix-based app or web-based app. That was our first “aha” moment fourteen years ago that we could deliver very secure and easy access to your applications, regardless of type. The second development approach around SpringBoard was that we wanted to build a system that helped our company scale up or down without having to add a lot of support resources. That was our initial design intent, so we built things like a support module directly into SpringBoard. Initially, only LoadSpring personnel used the support module to manage our own cases. After a year or so of doing that, we realized that the support module would be fantastic for our customers who would actually be able to input, manage and upload files into our support database system directly—without any outside help from us. We took that module and gave it to our customers, and today it is one of their favorite features. All of their support, tracking and management can be done within SpringBoard. As we grew, we were solving scaling challenges by adding more automation into SpringBoard. For example, there is security. Every customer has a different security requirement. Some customers want eight character passwords, some want 20 character passwords, some of them want them to expire in 30 days and others want them to expire in 45 days. And none of them wanted a lot of complexity. With the SpringBoard platform, we can completely tune a customer’s security requirements and customize them for every different customer. In a traditional IT structure, you just cannot do that. As we have evolved the system over the years and have the eyes of over 50,000 people, we can start helping them manage their system even better. For example, with our virtual “campus” known as the LoadSpring Academy, all the training is built into SpringBoard—accessible any time or anywhere. Also we are introducing what we call “My Social,” where you can post a comment to the entire LoadSpring community of employees or users of a company, and can create social interactions that will be of great value. We think networking and social is very big, particularly in the project management space. Moving forward, our next generation will allow companies to interact with the entire SpringBoard community worldwide. Imagine you are a user or project manager and you need to find a consultant in the Seattle area. You look on the web and cannot find anything. With SpringBoard, you can use “My Social” and ask if anyone has a recommendation for a consultant in that area. We think that socialization around user communities in a particular application is going to be very powerful in the next phase of SpringBoard implementation. Why? Because we have everyone coming to one location, and we can help tune our visibility to what the customers and users need most.
CEOCFO: How do you reach potential customers?
Mr. Leighton: One of the best ways we reach customers is through our branding and imaging. In the project management community, we are a widely recognized name, so we get a lot of inbound calls looking for our particular range of services. We are extremely active in the IT conferencing space, so we go to a lot of Oracle-based conferences where we can have face-to-face interaction with potential customers. Lastly, working with our existing customers is extremely important. One of the cool things about project management users is that if we work with one company, we know that they are probably working on average with 10 other companies on the same projects. This “virusing” effect is quite powerful because once other companies get on the system through our main customer, within months they’re calling us asking how we can help them as well.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Leighton: It is very good, thanks. Through June of this year, our year over year sales were about 150%. It has been trending this way not only because we are getting bigger and the cloud is getting more popular, but because of the roller coaster nature of the economy. When it is up, CIOs to look at solutions that can be implemented quickly. If things go in the other direction, they can ramp them down just as fast. It gives companies very near real-time scalability. Since 2009 and 2010, we have really seen a massive adoption shift in the business that comes to LoadSpring.
CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach?
Mr. Leighton: It is global. Aside from the United States, our second biggest area is Europe. One growing area that we are targeting is Asia—we have a lot of users there, so we’re developing a data center presence over the next two to three quarters. Also South Africa wants us to have a presence there primarily due to the lack of stable IT infrastructure down there, and the growing number of projects they’re undertaking.
CEOCFO: Do you work directly with customers?
Mr. Leighton: Yes, we work directly with all of our customers. It is an interesting business challenge because we are effectively acting as a proxy for various software companies. We have to make sure the software is working properly in a hosted environment, so we work very closely with our vendors and then interact with our customers in an IT fashion, acting on the vendor’s behalf. We have a way of getting very close to customers right from the beginning. They see LoadSpring as an extension of their IT organization and a real solution. We work with these companies on a daily basis and develop a great relationship—so much so that over the last three years, about 60% of our new sales have come from existing customers.
CEOCFO: What is new in the industry? How do you know what to pay attention to and what might go by the wayside?
As you know, technology is constantly changing and it is never easy to
predict. I have never really tried to forecast what is going to happen, but
what I do try to focus on is what are the next business challenges are that
our customers are going to face. There are a couple of interesting ones that
come to mind—one launched about two years ago and the other is happening
right now: The one that started a couple of years back is enterprise control
over the devices that employees use. Customers or employees of many
enterprises used to be told that their phone or computer had to have certain
services in order to do business. But what the employees used in their own
homes wasn’t the enterprises’ problem. Then users and employees started
telling the company what they wanted to use.
“I am going
to use an iPhone and you just need to tell me what credentials I need in
order to get to my email.”
When one or two employees do that, it is not a big deal—when 75% of your
employees tell you what they want to use that is different. Suddenly you
have to change how you think about delivering IT services to them. It has
gotten to the point now where CIOs on one hand feel a sense of freedom—like
they no longer need to keep up to date with the latest PC laptop, Mac laptop
or cellphone technology. On the negative side, they have to create a
platform that is flexible enough to handle a whole spectrum of devices, from
smartphones to tablets to desktops. In my experience, CIOs struggle with
finding flexible solutions that can be used on any platform. That drives
them to cloud services. If I put these things on our cloud, it is
LoadSpring’s responsibility. Part of our solution has been to create
technology like LoadSpringMobile, which lets people in the field use nearly
any mobile device to easily access and manage all their projects and
information. That is one driver to the cloud. The second big change that is
occurring right now is that we are seeing a greater number of enterprise
customers who want a more intimate relationship with their cloud provider.
We have a lot of enterprises today that are asking us to move their
LoadSpring-hosted systems into a secure, private network and then connect to
their internal network. It gives them the best of both worlds. They have a
third party managing the craziness of all their different applications and
platforms, but they have more control and more intimacy with the security
connecting them to their own network. They can now use resources that
they still maintain in-house, such as their ERP systems, financial systems
or CRM. They want to maintain all of that on their internal network, but
want the cloud system and their internal network to be in real time
communication with each other. That is something where we are really seeing
a big shift. And once a company or enterprise reaches that state of full
connectivity to a provider like LoadSpring, they now have fantastic choices
as far as who’s going to manage a particular application. So now, moving an
application through the cloud is simple. It is on the same network, so a
company who may be hosting twenty-five applications with LoadSpring today is
looking to move two or three hundred internal applications to us over the
next year. On average, we see these big ten thousand to twenty
thousand-person companies trying to manage eight to twelve thousand
applications on their own. In some cases, that is almost one application per
employee. We have seen a trend towards consolidation, and are getting these
applications off the desktop and eliminating duplication. Otherwise, you may
have 10 different people using 10 different applications that all do the
same thing. With our help, they can have the application more streamlined
internally with a subset in the cloud. Then they can take the subset (which
is essential for global reach but is tough for IT to manage) and pop it onto
the cloud. It is almost like they have their own private cloud that
LoadSpring is taking care of for them and they love that. That is a huge
trend, which is going to be game-changing for LoadSpring because our system
and SpringBoard is geared to take any type of application, whether it is
client server-based or web-based. That is where I see the industry headed.
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