Friday, 25 September 2015 14:51

When xMatters

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xMatters is an intelligent communications platform – it can do almost anything from message staff and contractors, to proactive issue management with clients.

I met with David Wall, Vice President Asia, Pacific and Japan, and Ty Flippin who has recently been appointed Area Vice President for Australia and New Zealand.

The name xMatters came from the simple concept where (x) is a variable [what has happened] and depending on that, what matters [happens] is next.

For example, look at IT incident management – service desks. If something happens, [generally, an alert of some type is generated], xMatters takes that alert and uses its cloud based communications system to find the right person for the job (staff or contractor) and uses Omni-channels to ensure that the message gets to them – quick smart. That can then become a conference bridge with all parties to resolve the issue.

Omni-channel or multi-modal means a mix of SMS, email, phone, pagers, apps, signage, PA – in fact any channel that can be controlled by an IoT (internet of things) device – smart TV, home alarm, and recently social media channels.

“Our messages cut through the Tsunami of background chatter and are noticed. If we can reduce the mean time to respond, and mean time to resolve, that saves companies lots of money. xMatters intelligent communications can find the right person for the job based on skillset,” said David.

Then there is business continuity management – usually crisis communications. The sooner an issue is resolved the sooner the business can resume normal operations – they do not make money being off the air.

“Imagine a building fire. xMatters can notify all employees or customers, ensure that evacuation instructions are sent to them, ask for confirmation, and keep them informed of the company status,” he said.

Employee communications deserved a little more explanation. “We can see which person is responding –are they fast or slow – everything is tracked for continuous improvement and provides an audit trail – how did we do? We can find people based on skill sets, locations, languages spoken, and so much more. If we cannot get through, we can escalate the issue to another employee or contractor,” David said.

 “We are expanding the cloud to include your customers. Imagine your web site is down – we can tell your good customers that. Timely information leads to more loyal customers,” Ty said.

 More than that, it can be used to notify customers when their goods are ready and confirm when they are coming in. Ty said one of the greatest issues is lack of information in a crisis [of any size] causing people to call help desks – wasting two people’s time. He gave the simple example of a person calling a chemist to ask if their prescription was ready. “We can solve that easily and save time and cost for both parties.”

xMatters will integrate into almost any system that generates an alert. It has most of the service desk providers including IBM, HP, CA, BMC, NOW, Splunk, and many more. “We don’t monitor and send alerts – our software knows how to action them and cut down valuable response time,” said David.

OK – I now get it that xMatters is a cloud based, communications platform that can take an alert and turn into action post-haste.

As we chatted, it was clear that a host of organisations – police, emergency services, military, and education – even retailers for major incident management, could use this unique platform. David gave the example of the Martin Place siege where one of his customers communciated with staff and others via xMatters.

Ty said that via its channel partners it was looking to take the platform much wider and spoke of the US experience with the fire service and other emergency organisations.

 David wanted to establish its credentials, “We stated 15 years ago as AlarmPoint Alert Management and focused on IT Service desks. In those days alerts were about sending, and hoping someone would respond so we became multi-modal and found that this radically cuts the time to response. When it is critical, like an online store that may be a cost of $50,000 a minute – if we can get that to a few minutes then xMatters software is a no brainer. It now has more than 1000 clients including 8 out of 10 top banks and have had spectacular growth for the past 13 quarters. We are a private company and you know what – we retain 98% of our clients.”

We spoke about some of their customers.

NBN Co found that by deploying xMatters it was able to find their technicians anywhere at any time and direct them to where they were immediately needed to go, on time, every time. If you want to get a better overview of the work it does this short video from Scott Bowler IT Operations Manager at NBN discusses its use of xMatters at NBN.

There is also background information regarding how NBN Tests Major Incident Management in the Real World here. xMatters is looking for partners who understand the importance of the platform and who can integrate it with their client’s alert systems. Typically, these come from the IT help or service desk arena, IT operations, and process automation areas that try to extend the value of their offerings.
 
Being cloud based xMatters platform is operations expenditure (OPEX) rather than capital expenditure based.

Opinion
 
I was vaguely aware of xMatters but the interview helped me to understand that good things do not happen by accident. Behind every alert should be xMatters.

I was impressed that this US Company had invested in Australia with staff, support and local data centres. Its major client Optus has become both a client and one of its vendor – eating its own dog food!
 
I was impressed at the potential of this platform – it really is the ultimate cloud based communications tool with so many potential uses. “Please,” Ty said, “Let us focus on what we know best because that’s plenty,” he said in his Texas accent. Then he proceeded to tell me of some more obscure uses in the US and UK that have integrated into Active Directory, HR systems, customer databases and more.
 
I was impressed that it had moved a ‘Customer Success manager” Louise Smith from the US to here. Louise acts as the customer’s representative at xMatters relaying to it how the customer could best use the platform and making sure it happens.
 
In the end, it is about efficiency and innovation – save time and money but use the platform to deliver better service to employees, contactors and customers.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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