Interview with Steve Allen, CEO of iDatix

We recently had an opportunity to interview Steve Allen, CEO of iDatix to get his thoughts on the state of the company, the industry and the challenges they have faced. For those unaware, iDatix produces a document management system called iSynergy. You can visit their website to learn more.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Steve Allen, CEO of iDatix

I have always been a technology driven person with a passion for the creative and aesthetic, and my career has taken me all over the world designing products from robotic systems and emergency vessel location to hand-print character recognition.  My experiences as an engineer have often focused on leveraging technology to literally replace mundane human labor and the user interfaces to make the technology work.  The benefits of this work have been significant for me.  From lifesaving, in the case of a system I designed for the marine radio market, to life liberating as in eliminating the mundane data entry of hand-printed forms.

My creative side has focused on how to make things simple, elegant and intuitive.  I never wanted to create something complex.  I have always seemed to find the “easy” solution and been able to deliver solutions quickly by using previous innovations to build new ones.

In my endeavors, I have not been the politically popular individual in selling the benefits of the technology I have helped to develop and market. I am often accused of eliminating jobs, but I have found more often than not that we actually create many more jobs as a result.  I can look back and see many companies that once empowered with this revolutionary technology, have experienced explosive growth; growing from 30 employees to over 300 or from 150 to 600.

In my transition from an Engineer to a Sales Executive and then a CEO, I have had to reinvent myself from the core and keep myself in a continual state of learning.  I have failed many times and wish I could undo many mistakes, mostly with people and not understanding good leadership and management, but with many books, CEO groups and hard lessons learned, I can say I am getting better.  Today, I am most proud of the children I have raised (seven), the relationship with my wife and the people at our company iDatix. iDatix has been listed as “Best Places to Work in Tampa Bay” for five consecutive years and it is a joy to have such an engaged group of people working toward a common vision to “Simplify the Workplace”.

Who is iDatix and what product / services do you offer?

iDatix has been a technology focused business with a mission to “Simplify the Workplace” for the past 11 years.  We have been very successful at transforming the operations of over 500 companies worldwide and have built a wonderful product base that we truly believe are different and critical for the operations of most businesses.  It is now our new mission to let the world know who we are and how we can make their business better.In laymen’s terms, we help a company go as paperless as possible and then move the work from desktop to desktop or department to department or company to vendor, customers and partners to get work done.  It’s delivering everything to the right person at the right time so they can take action on it, review it and make decisions according to defined business rules, policies and procedures.

Our core product, iSynergy, is a suite of business automation tools that empower an organization to innovate their company’s operations, processes and management.  We provide a solution for merging people, processes and technology into a unified platform for operational effectiveness.  We do this by automating and driving the process of taking action on information and content by employees, partners, vendors and management when and where it is needed.  We eliminate manual operations and processes and replace them with a unified web-enabled solution to make companies more productive and profitable.

You can think of our technology as Document Management, Content Management, E-Forms, Workflow and Business Process Management all rolled into one solution to eliminate the Gaps in any businesses operations.

What separates your product from the large number of contenders in the market?

Our focus on simplicity, ease of use, integration capabilities and business process design tools clearly separate us from the rest of the competition.  iSynergy is a platform solution that provides powerful functionality within a completely web-based architecture.  There is no easier way to design and deploy a complete solution faster than with iSynergy.Because each of the solution modules were specifically designed to operate seamlessly in as an integrated solution it can be maintained and expanded by process owners without the need of IT services.  This enables companies to leverage their investments and compound the returns in our technology.

Progression, our workflow and business process automation tool stands apart of the industry in its capabilities and ease of use.  Simply draw a picture of your business process, define your business rules with point and click ease and then click on implement.  iSynergy’s Progression does the rest, creating a complete web-based solution that automates employee and other manual interactions, tasks, database exchanges, automated notifications, escalations, and real-time reporting with management dashboards and controls.

All of this results in shorter deployment times, reduced costs, reduced risks and a faster payback.

What do you feel has been the biggest challenge of 2010/2011 for your company?

We have always delivered great technical results and success to our clients, but our transition to a more sales and marketing focused company from a technology driven company has been our biggest challenge over 2010/2011.  As the “propeller head” leading our company as CEO, sales and marketing have been difficult to manage, to create a culture and produce repeatable results.  Even with these challenges we have managed to grow, but not at the level our team and products could support.A colleague of mine in a CEO group, after hearing me complain about our sales struggles, told me I had a marketing problem, not a sales problem.  It took over a year for me to really understand how to apply his advice, but we have finally gotten a marketing team that is producing a steady lead-flow that is resulting in more and bigger opportunities.

We will be continuing to nurture a marketing and sales culture here at iDatix through 2012 and beyond to hit the growth curve we have set our vision on.

Currently the market is in the process of recovering from a rather aggressive recession, how did you weather the storm?

Prior to the recession, iDatix was one of the fastest growing companies in Tampa Bay.  We were adding a significant number of employees, preparing for the growth we were experiencing.  When the recession hit, everyone stopped signing the deals in front of them.  Our pipeline timeframes kept growing and deals kept delaying.  In the end, we had to pull back a little and our revenues were flat in 2009 until 2010.  Once everyone saw that things weren’t getting better quickly and that they must also correct for the current economic environment, the deals started to flow again.  Companies realized that they had to do more with less and this actually helped fuel the growth of iDatix once again.In 2010 iDatix grew at nearly 40% and we expect the same growth to continue and even compound over the next few years.

In the realm of document management, what do you feel is the next big thing coming down the pipeline and why?

Document Management has provided great benefits to organizations over the past 20 years.  From the simple archival systems to the new full content management solutions, the challenges facing us in everyday business get more voluminous, complex and require more work to complete.  We have reached the point where document management is critical to business success and you are really crippled in your operations, competitiveness and ability to meet the demands of today’s clients for customer support without it.Moving into the future, we are more connected than ever before and the demands on our time have been increased by mobile technologies.  Businesses no longer have the borders of the office walls or office hours.  Our personal lives have been invaded by mobile technology and business has found its way into our personal lives to a level that can be viewed as pervasive.  But, if we turn that around and look at it as empowering, we can see documents and business tasks being delivered on the mobile platform in new and effective ways to free us from the traditional workplace. By using workflow and business automation together with document and content management we can deliver neatly bundled packages of work to the most qualified and capable individuals anytime anywhere in the world.  We can monitor the productivity, bottlenecks and reassign work instantly with the touch of a phone screen.  Work can be directed, measured and performed at our convenience!

What type of CMS integrations does iDatix offer?iDatix provides a complete set of integration tools at the user level, system level and programmer’s API level.  iSynergy can be integrated in to federated systems or as a component to portal solutions such as SharePoint or other systems.

Do you offer any ERP or CRM integrations?

iSyenrgy has been fully integrated into most ERP, CRM and other key line of business solutions including accounting, medical, manufacturing, banking and others.  Our off-the-shelf integration technology iLink and Data Exchange accelerates the integration process by not requiring any form of programming.  It easily allows end-users to define integration points for document management, content capture or workflow via a simple to use point and click tool that allows you to add buttons to 3rd party applications.

What has been the biggest achievement you or the document management industry have seen this year?

The speed with which companies are delivering mobile and SaaS solutions has been remarkable in 2011.  I think iDatix has the advantage, as our products have been browser and web based since our inception in 2000 and this is especially true of our workflow tools.

Do you have any predictions for 2012?

I believe in 2012 the industry will continue to see growth and consolidation as others try to create “total” business process automation solutions that fill the gaps between employees, processes, systems and management.  To do this you have to manage the documents, content, forms, data, process flow, business rules and management activities.

There are still so many companies running without this technology that need it, or companies that need a technology refresh.

Thank you for your time Mr. Allen, do you have any closing remarks?

It would be great if 2012 were the year that the industry came together to form a new acronym that clearly defined clearly why this technology is so critical for business success.

Here is my stab at it:

Document Oriented Essential Solution Integrated Total Functionality Automated by Systems and Technology

DoesItFast!

Well done sir. Thank you for your time. 

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