Interview with the CEO of Glue42, the Forerunner in Desktop Integration
As the winner of Global Banking & Finance Review’s award for Excellence in Innovation – Wealth Management Software Solutions North America in 2022, Glue42 continues to exploit new technologies and industry standards in pursuit of simplifying user journeys across desktop applications and improving business outcomes. The software services provider is based in London, New York and Sofia, and has developed a family of platforms that deliver integrated desktop experiences to financial institutions around the world.
Wanda Rich, editor of Global Banking & Finance Review, recently met with CEO Leslie Spiro to find out more, and learned that the origins of Glue42 go back to 2012, when JP Morgan was looking to acquire a platform to help integrate the Wealth Management desktop application estate. “At that time, no vendors were able to offer integration between legacy and modern applications and as a result, we were engaged to build what would eventually become Glue42 Enterprise v1.0,” Leslie explained.
As of 2022, Glue42 is currently three distinct integration platforms designed for specific scenarios, and Leslie talked Wanda through each one. “Glue42 Core is an open-source platform designed for simple web application integration. Glue42 Enterprise is the full-service platform designed to integrate applications of any type. Glue42 Core+ sits between these two offerings and is the first commercially available, web-deployed, zero-install platform, and is designed for large to internet-scale deployments.”
Interestingly, he pointed out that the underlying tech for each of these platforms is the same. “Indeed, the kernel of each shares the same source code. Every time we acquire new clients, we can see that the potential for Glue42 is significantly greater than we dared believe in 2012. As of now, we firmly believe that Glue42 and the ability to seamlessly integrate desktop applications is a first-class citizen of every desktop machine – and ultimately, we believe that Glue42 will become an integral part of the desktop operating systems and/or browsers.”
While there have been challenges along the way, the biggest one faced by Glue42 was not technical, but marketing related. “In the early days, we struggled to establish our position in the market, perhaps in part due to our relentless focus on product architecture and technology innovation. In hindsight, those early years were a mixed blessing. Sure, we could have acquired an even larger number of clients, but today we have easily the most scalable, robust and feature-rich platforms – and these plaudits are coming directly from our customers.”
If Leslie were to sum up in a single word what differentiates Glue42 from its competitors, the word would be innovation. “We were the first to bring to market multi-machine interop, universal search, unified notifications, workspaces, user behaviour analytics, Citrix support and, of course, an open-source platform. Many of these features are still unique to Glue42, despite having been deployed in mission critical environments for years!”
To understand the benefits available to the investment managers, financial institutions and traders that use Glue42, Leslie explained that we need to look at the problem that they are currently facing on their desktops. “They use a number of different applications to get their jobs done. However, none of these applications have been made to talk to each other, so these users end up being confined to the data and workflows within the walls of each application, and have to swivel-chair between them to access the information they need to make critical business decisions.
“This is where Glue42 helps. We stitch up and automate workflows across applications so that the data is delivered to the users at the point they need it,” he continued. “This is what we call Straight-Through Workflows™ – one of the key differentiators of the Glue42 approach. In the first instance, Glue42 eliminates the need for copying, pasting and rekeying the same data into different applications, removing the swivel-chair latency.”
Leslie emphasised that the more impactful, more valuable benefit to the business is how this enables wealth managers, fund managers and traders to behave differently. “For wealth managers, having the relevant client information at their fingertips when a client calls, emails or chats enables better conversations and hyper-personalised experiences. For traders, having the relevant pre-trade analytics embedded into their workflows at the point of executing an order enables them to make better execution decisions. So, while there are many efficiency and operational gains using Glue42, the bigger prize for our clients is the high-value business gain.”
Even though business operations have undergone considerable change as a result of the current pandemic, organisations supported by Glue42 have mostly enjoyed minimal disruption. “In the early days of the pandemic, we helped organisations with their unplanned move to home working. One of the advantages of the workflow-based approach is that these constructs can easily deal with changes to the number of machines or monitors,” Leslie observed. “This helped give home workers a similar experience to what their office environment had previously offered. We then saw a renewed focus on web-based desktops as these are, by definition, a great deal more portable than environments in which applications are installed locally.
“Fortunately for us, the start of the pandemic coincided with the release of Glue42 Core,” he went on. “This platform was designed from the ground up to be web deployable and zero-install. Combine that with business applications that are also web-based, and you then have a truly portable work environment. At last, the reliance upon locally installed desktop interop ‘containers’ had gone – although our competitors still require their use to this day.”
When it comes to product development, Leslie didn’t hesitate to pinpoint the number one driver behind new ideas. “Our clients! I’ve just been reviewing our latest product roadmap, and approximately half of the new features come from the field. We love learning about new use cases, and we are fortunate to have clients across wealth management, asset management, investment banking, brokerage and retail. This gives us a fantastic understanding of the market need and how best to support our current and future clients.
Following a busy couple of years, a number of new products and features are in the offing. “We did a closed launch of Glue42 Core+ in Q1 and are set to hit the button on a public launch in June 2022. We are constantly releasing new features including Notification Groups, Workspace Controls, Web-Groups, Frameless Windows, Banner Windows and many, many more. Elsewhere, we have grown our Glue42 consulting division to help deal with the increasing pace of client onboarding for those organisations that don’t have their own IT teams. Finally, everything is gearing up for a truly major multi-platform release in early ’23. This will be the most significant thing to happen to the desktop integration market and will help us achieve our vision of ‘Workflows Everywhere.’ More on this later!”
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