St. Paul’s Kinetic Data looks to add smaller companies as customers of its business process automation software.
Hundreds of big corporations are using Kinetic Data software to automate business processes, from ordering computers for new employees to handling consumer contacts. Now the St. Paul company is concocting a version for small and midsize companies.
CEO and co-founder John Sundberg hopes the move will drive growth for Kinetic Data while raising awareness of what he has termed “enterprise request management,’’ or ERM, which he describes as a business-efficiency strategy that can lower the cost of service delivery while making for happier customers by helping to ensure first-time fulfillment of service requests.
Kinetic Data’s leading product, Kinetic Request, and its other ERM applications offer a holistic approach to centralizing and automating business processes and service requests, according to Sundberg. Internal and external customers can request shared services from human resources, information technology or other departments in an organization, from a single Web-based portal.
Easier to use
The focus now is on making its software easier to use for companies with 100 to 1,000 employees, Sundberg said. Those could be independent companies or smaller groups within big organizations, which can lead to multiple sales within the same company.
Appealing to smaller companies will require Kinetic Data to create libraries of sample business processes, such as the personal finance and other database templates that come with spreadsheet software (like Microsoft Excel), Sundberg said.
“I can’t give them something as raw as it is today,” Sundberg said of Kinetic Data’s current software. “It needs more, I’ll call it ‘cooking,’ to be successful. A larger company can spend some energy to put in their processes, while the smaller companies will go, ‘just give me a PC ordering process.’ ”
The smaller-company strategy has gained some traction and could fuel explosive growth over the next three to five years. “We want to make it drop-dead easy for them to move forward and for us to sell it,” Sundberg said.
Kinetic Data, which has 30 employees, has added five people in the last six months and is continuing to hire developers and salespeople. Last year’s sales of $5 million represented a 25 percent increase from 2011 after three flat years coming out of the recession. The company is self-financed and, though it routinely receives offers, has taken no outside money.
Today its customers include education, entertainment, financial services, government, health care and technology. They include 3M, where Sundberg once worked as a liaison between information technology and development groups, General Mills, Intel, Geico and Vodafone, plus a number of government agencies.
The company’s software enables users to add a new business-service process quickly and safely by using a cloning approach that avoids the risk of damaging the entire database, Sundberg said, unlike products from larger competitors. “I wanted to reduce the pain of change,” Sundberg said. “That’s baked into what we do.”
Fulfilling service requests more efficiently can lead to savings on each service request, or transaction, which quickly adds up for companies handling a lot of transactions, Sundberg said. A company that handles 1,000 transactions a day might save $10 a transaction using Kinetic Data software, he said, while one handling 50,000 a day might save $2 to $3 on each because it’s already operating pretty efficiently.
Carter Adkins, operations manager at 3M’s customer-contact center, said the center uses Kinetic Data software to handle 2 million contacts a year from consumers, businesses and internal sources. The company’s human resources contact center, its information technology support center and some field-service organizations also use Kinetic Data software.
“They’ve allowed us to customize our contact management system to gather business intelligence on 3M’s customers,” Adkins said. “The ability to make changes to the contact management system on the fly is excellent. We can make a change, and everybody is seeing it within an hour.”
The expert says: Mike Harvath, president and CEO of Revenue Rocket Consulting Group, a Bloomington firm that consults with tech companies on growth strategies, said what Sundberg terms enterprise request management is a big and growing space, particularly for small businesses, which he said need proven processes to grow.
“A portal that connects firms internally for these service requests and to their customers and trading partners should have a very bright future indeed,” Harvath said.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is email@example.com.