Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member TJ Felice, President, ISOdx Solutions
TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.
Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members. This week’s interview is with Anthony (T.J.) Felice, President, ISOdx Solutions. ISOdx has harnessed the power of change isolation, dramatically improving the efficiency and productivity of support organization. Change isolation allows you to pin down the exact nature of a problem by comparing a known good operating state to one that is compromised — and identify the differences.
John Ragsdale: First of all, I’d like to thank TJ Felice for agreeing to be a founding member of our Partner Advisory Board! TJ, thanks for taking some time to speak with me today. Could we start with you giving my readers some background on ISOdx?
TJ Felice: Thank you very much, John. It is always a pleasure to speak with you, and I’d be happy to give you some background about our company and product. ISOdx is a forensic software tool that enables organizations to resolve technology support issues faster than ever before. The need was identified over eight years ago when Cranel, Inc. (our founding company) was partnered with Symantec to deploy and support its NetBackup product. As part of that partnership, Cranel provided “Level 1” and “Level 2” support for NetBackup, and was financially incented to resolve as many issues as possible. Our support organization was ranked the #1 for the highest number of tickets tapped out, over 98% because of our visibility into the ecosystem.
The challenge of supporting a single software product that was tightly integrated with a customer’s unique “technology ecosystem” soon became obvious. Cranel realized if they approached this hurdle by proactively capturing point-in-time snapshots of each customer’s unique technology ecosystem to see what changed to cause the issue, life would be much easier—and from that concept, ISOdx was born!
John: I’ve seen some impressive customer case studies—a good example being from TSIA member IBM Netezza–of how ISOdx helps companies solve issues faster, and can even prevent outages from happening. This was also a key message from my CEO’s first book, Complexity Avalanche: companies must leverage technology to proactively prevent problems and short cut downtime when outages occur. Could you talk about the ROI for ISOdx—it must be fast and dramatic?
TJ: John, the ROI is so compelling it’s really often difficult for our prospects to believe. ISOdx pays for itself in less than six months, and one of our customers recently realized a 100 percent ROI in less than three months! It’s important to note that ISOdx doesn’t just reduce an organization’s “cost to serve” — ISOdx’s compelling return on investment occurs while simultaneously improving customer satisfaction.
There is no other product available today that enables an organization to resolve technology support issues faster while also improving customer satisfaction. In today’s competitive economy, customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention are more important than ever, and providing the customer with technology support that actually exceeds their expectations can be a significant differentiator in both customer acquisition and retention.
John: One of my ongoing frustrations is that companies try to build a solution like this, only be become disappointed because home grown tools will never be able to touch all the operating systems and application versions of an enterprise tool like ISOdx. Do you have any advice for support managers who are being told by IT or development, “We can build easier than buy?”
TJ: My advice to any organization is to invest their finite resources, financial, human capital, and time, into the pursuit of their mission and the development of their core offerings. Obviously, any component, be it a product or service, that can accelerate the realization of an organization’s mission by being combined with their core offering, should be brought to bear as quickly as possible.
The large technology providers of today (IBM, SalesForce.com, Apple) have achieved their success in large part due to their ability to partner or acquire complimentary technologies that help them develop a more complete offering to their customers as quickly as possible. Successful organizations always focus on what they do best, and look for valued partners that can provide niche solutions in areas that are outside their area of expertise.
John: TSIA data shows that customers whose expectations for issue resolution time are met or exceeded tend to be more satisfied and more loyal. I would love to hear your views on the impact of customer retention on revenue and profitability, especially in these challenging economic times. What are you hearing from ISOdx customers?
TJ: One of my recent blog postings (www.isodxprez.com) addressed this very topic. Let’s think about what drives customer loyalty. According to studies conducted by Forrester Research and RightNow Technologies, there are two main drivers of customer loyalty, (1) resolving support issues in a timely fashion, and (2) providing the customer with access to knowledgeable support representatives.
Organizations that do these two things better than their competitors enjoy an eight percent improvement in customer retention. ISOdx customers are able to address both of these drivers by using our product to support their customers, and as a result have dramatically improved their customer acquisition and retention capabilities. In today’s economic climate, more and more emphasis is being placed on retaining existing customers, and providing customer support that exceeds expectations is the most significant driver of that customer retention.
John: One of the biggest trends we are seeing on the revenue generation side is that more support organizations are creating managed service offerings for customers, essentially taking over IT administration duties at the customer site. I would think that a solution such as ISOdx, which makes problem identification so easy, would be an important part of a cost effective managed services offering. Is this a trend you are seeing as well?
TJ: Absolutely. Technology is changing faster than ever, and customers are constantly making modifications to their IT “ecosystems” – the collection of hardware devices, operating systems and middle-ware components, and web-based and on-premise applications that support their business. For a managed service offering to be successful, a thorough understanding of the customer’s entire ecosystem is required.
ISOdx proactively captures forensic information about each customer’s unique environment so that the support technician has all the information needed to resolve the issue without gathering information from the customer on the phone, via email, through remote desktop or chat. ISOdx is also the only solution that enables the support technician to compare two moments in time – offering detailed information about the customer’s IT ecosystem during a “known good” state – when everything was working as it should – and the current “known bad” state. By providing the forensic information needed to trouble-shoot support issues and the ability to compare two points in time, our customers have realized a 92 percent improvement in their Mean Time to Resolution.
John: An ongoing challenge we hear from members is the number of applications support techs must navigate to help customers (an average of 13 according to member surveys) gets in the way of adopting and using new tools. Can you explain how ISOdx tightly integrates to the incident/case management system, so employees can stay in one place and still receive all the benefits of the tool?
TJ: John, we have heard the same message from our customers as part of our quarterly conference calls to discuss our product roadmap. During these calls, we discuss the planned enhancements we have slated for ISOdx with our customers, and capture their input and feedback on our approach. Earlier this year, our customers raised this very issue and asked us to make it our highest priority. We listened and responded by developing an Application Programming Interface/Software Development Kit (API/SDK) that enables ISOdx to be seamlessly integrated with any incident/case management system. The end result is that support technicians can access the forensic support information captured by ISOdx directly from the system they are already familiar with. We have already implemented our API/SDK for two customers, one that uses Remedy and the other that uses SalesForce.com. The reception from both customers has been extremely positive and has further improved their ability to resolve cases faster by eliminating the need to constantly refer to another software application.
In addition, because ISOdx supports practically any platform (Unix, Linux, Windows, etc.) and any application (Oracle, SQL, Websphere, IIS), our customers can replace the various “niche” tools being used to support their customers with ISOdx.
John: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today!
TJ: Thank you for the opportunity, it’s been my pleasure!