Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Inside CSI: 40 years in business part three of three

Happy Independence Day
Happy Independence Day!
Part 3: Challenges and Opportunities

The heart of Coordinated Systems, Inc., veteran-owned and CT-based, (CSI) begins and ends with the professionals who work here. “Each individual at CSI brings his/her own unique abilities to the table. Each and every day we face new challenges, whether it is a support call, a unique sales call, the development of new functionality to stay competitive in this ever-changing world. I have been grateful for our management, who has found a way to keep this company going through good times and bad, facing tough economic challenges,” offered Dennis Vincent from our support and training team. “We are a success because we just get the job done,” added Robert Hutcheon, CEO.

“People here at CSI are always taking on multiple responsibilities and learning new skills. As a small company, we are often thrown into the fire and forced to succeed, which we do,” said Rich Marcia, Marketing Director.

Challenges have been aplenty in the 40 years of CSI. Amidst the recessions we stayed positive but lean. During the hurricane of 2011, we forged on while battling power outages and telephone interruptions. We’ve faced numerous “emerging” competitive threats who’ve all managed to become less prevalent. We’ve stood in the footsteps of the giants of the industry and won because we were more nimble, more cost effective and more open to specific customer requirements and their diverse needs.

“CSI also has a wonderful ability to be very successful in the hiring process, finding people with unique skills and a desire to “go the extra mile” to contribute to the company’s success. It is this, above all else, that I feel has allowed us to continue to be a company that has been able to adapt to changing times,” Dennis added. One of our employees is nearly at “half-life” as he calls it. Our director of development, Dan McGrail, started at the company fresh out of college at age 22 and says, “three more years and I’ll have been here longer than I haven’t”.

Personally, working in a family-like environment means learning quite a bit about your co-workers. You see them through all of life’s milestones: weddings, children, grandchildren, new cars and homes, sports events, etc. “My son, who turns four this week,” Rich said, “knew that “C-S-I” is where his Daddy worked when he was only two years old. “ You also get to experience life’s tragedies with the support system a close-knit family-like organization will provide. Unspeakable events such as 9-11 come to mind. One of our owners, a storied Vietnam veteran, remembers the toils of war as well as the turbulence of an economic downturn. “If you’re to remember anything about CSI, it’s that we are survivors,” he exclaimed.

As we’ve grown, we’ve had to keep up with the growing demands of a similarly-growing customer base. A big part of our ability to keep up has been the addition of our support management system. It’s allowed us to become more efficient and really streamlined our support processes.

Being at CSI for a long time has other perks as well. Company outings are always memorable, whether it’s a hockey game, a trip to the ballpark or a college football outing, the common thread here is work hard and play hard. Every Friday morning the company eats a home-cooked breakfast. We rotate menu choices and dish-cleaning duty. It’s a culture we’re proud of.

Some of the best memories of the 40 years come from our own customer interactions. We still support many long-time customers from the early days in manufacturing. With VO, we’re on 10+ years with a lot of customers, including many global enterprises, recognizable brands, healthcare institutions and a diverse array of other vertical market customers, both large and small.

Thinking back on 40 years brings back many memories and also presents a great sense of accomplishment, laying the foundation for a bright and innovative future. We’ll continue to evolve the Virtual Observer platform, adding features, functionalities and connectivities as our target markets, and most importantly, our customers have demand for them. We’re big on waiting for the industry giants to launch their new buzz features at big prices. We’ll then apply our “simple, effective and affordable” philosophy to it, and disrupt the marketplace with high value and breakthrough affordability.

“We’re certainly researching new technology and new spaces to see where else we can provide value to our customers. I see VO being in a great position to make evolutionary transitions, thanks to our agile development and our ability to stop on a dime and make the changes needed,” added Marcia. “In the recent years we’ve seen VO move swiftly to virtualized servers in many environments, and we’ve created a web-based interface. The global footprint will continue to be flattened, as will our customers’ true cost of ownership.”

Read part one of three

Read part two of three
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Inside CSI: 40 years in business part two of three

Part Two: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Over our 40 years in business, we've become well known for delivering on what we promise. Bulletproof call recording and quality monitoring software for contact centers. What isn't well known, however, is the fact we’ve actually created other software products, such as our popular “RecordNow”, a call recording software for small office/single line recording which has been really successful as a entry level personal recorder.

We’d created ADCM and AMS, precursors to Virtual Observer (VO), our enterprise contact center solution. 

We saw the future, however, and it wasn’t manufacturing control software.


 Manufacturing would undergo its’ own quality process evolution, with ISO9000 and such, and the job shops and defense industries in particular were dwindling in market size.

We looked to the call center as a growing market.

The recording industry had few competitors, and they were each really good as call loggers or as quality monitoring specialists.

No one did both very well, and if they did, they were so overpriced we knew we could make some noise in the industry.

In fact, we created the first blended Logger / QA model by offering the ability to record every call with audio and a random sample with audio and screens.

We pioneered the merging of “Legal, Liability Recording” and “Quality Assurance” industries. From those early discussions and some key relationships with industry expertise we developed Virtual Observer, initially winning small and medium-sized call centers over with our bundled feature set and low cost of ownership.

As with manufacturing, most of our early customers are still our customers.

With it’s third incarnation, we actually designed VO from the ground up to be an enterprise application.

Architected using .NET services allowed for the scalability and framework to support multi-location demand.

It helped us land a large call center outsourcer, with over 4000 phones and over 18 locations sharing an Avaya platform.

VO centralizes all the calls and quality monitoring back to their main hub.

 Possibly the latest achievement was one of our favorites, bringing our enterprise-class VO system from a client-server architecture to a web-based architecture.

It made our solution fresh and extremely user-friendly with a reinvented web interface and a dizzying array of new features, including “Call Insight” for integrated speech analytics, and “Agent Portal”, for bringing the front line agents directly into the process.

The development team is especially proud of their recent “to-do list”, which included completed check offs on the web transition, speech analytics, the agent portal, the chatterbox feature, redefining the way we do screen capture (rules-based) and creating the most flexible Avaya DMCC recording connectivities on the marketplace.

Our Avaya DMCC success was a combination of three factors: determination and creativity of our engineers; being a partner with Avaya in the DevConnect program; demand placed on us by our strong Avaya partner channel, who were not only selling VO as a bundled offering with their phone systems, but now using VO as a “foot-in-the-door” application sale all on it’s own.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Inside CSI: 40 years in business - part one of three

Building a foundation for the future: 

CSI timeline

Many of the people here at CSI have had long tenures within the organization. Half of the current staff started here pre-1995, when we were transitioning from manufacturing control software to the call center. The younger people all have been here since 2005, creating their own tenured careers. We hire great people. They fit in, they excel, they stay. Originally a UNIX shop, we brought our manufacturing control software to Windows with Version 6. It was a big deal, as the user interface was overhauled to take advantage of the graphical capabilities.

“We actually were very ahead of our time: we had come up with a model to “rent” the software and make most of our revenues from customization. It was kind of a precursor to the "freemium" marketing model which so many technology companies use today, especially in the SaaS world,” said Rich Marcia.
“I can also remember our top sales guy walking out of a first sales calls with a check. These are such different times, 40 years later.”

Everyone was so terrified of the Year 2000 “problem”, except for our developers. They tackled the issue with swift and confident logic, making sure it was a non-issue for our JSM customers. Dan McGrail, now our Director of Product Development, even wrote 3 books on the subject. It was a challenge which the CSI team handled admirably.

We’ve seen a number of milestones and achievements over the forty years, in terms of major development efforts, like the initial creation of Virtual Observer (VO) in the call recording and quality monitoring space. We had largely been a custom programming consultancy and developers of “Job Shop Manager”, an MS-DOS based solution which enabled many of the smaller manufacturing job shops and defense suppliers, as well as injection molders, with a way to automate their billing & inventory processes. We did it with a low-overhead, nimble, “simple, effective and affordable” operating philosophy which established a formula for how we would disrupt the call center industry. Read Part Two of "Inside CSI: 40 years in business"
Enhanced by Zemanta

Popular Posts