Newton, Massachusetts-based American Program Bureau (APB) is a market leader and innovator within the lecture industry. For over 40 years, APB has provided speakers for a wide array of programs and engagements—live in person as well as over the Internet. Speakers include world leaders (Mikhail Gorbachev), academic superstars, media personalities (Goldie Hawn, Larry King), and Nobel laureates (Archbishop Desmond Tutu).
APB relies heavily upon technology to run its business effectively. But by May of 2001, Perry Steinberg, President and CEO, was feeling a great deal of anxiety about his information technology. APB was one of the many unfortunate companies to lose its Internet connection abruptly for more than a month due to the collapse of NorthPoint Communications in the aftermath of the dot-com implosion. “This outage had major implications on our business, and I was determined never to be that vulnerable again,” said Steinberg.
As it turned out, the Internet outage was not their only concern. At the time, the firm was experiencing regular server crashes, unstable workstations, and poor network performance—issues that hindered office efficiency and productivity. In addition, APB’s business-critical event management application had reached its functional limitation for reliability, scalability and data integrity.
Frustrated with their current (and numerous) IT providers, APB was determined to take a new direction. “As a pioneer in our field and an industry leader, we could not afford to have technology get in our way,” stated Steinberg. They discussed their issues with many companies and chose iCorps Technologies. They were impressed with iCorps’ strategic and proactive approach to technology, their responsive support team, and their customer service. And, with iCorps’ comprehensive, “all under one roof” IT outsourcing capabilities, APB needed only iCorps as its single-source IT provider.
iCorps immediately performed a comprehensive assessment of APB’s information technology including network, servers, security, workstations, and system applications (including Web applications). The findings were documented, presented to the firm, and prioritized in a multi-tiered approach to a solution.
The first step was to get them stable. iCorps focused on strengthening the core of the network first, replacing outdated, underpowered servers with robust, fault tolerant servers and adding solid firewall protection.
APB selected iCorps’ System Administration and Support (SAS) maintenance program, which is equivalent to hiring a database administrator to perform periodic enhancements and tweaks to its existing system. iCorps’ most comprehensive and collaborative Managed Care program was also chosen to provide ongoing maintenance, support, strategic guidance, and 24 x 7 proactive network monitoring services.
Once the IT foundation was stable and secure, iCorps began to address the firm’s other needs, including APB’s business-critical event management system that handles speaker bookings and audience enrollments. iCorps added some new features and functionality to the existing event management system based on APB’s short-term needs.
But because it was an older system, a decision eventually had to be made whether to keep making costly enhancements to the existing system or to start fresh. Flaws in the initial design and build of the database and application limited changes, and prevented further upgrades or repairs. This situation severely limited APB’s ability to move forward toward its goals, and required significant time, money, and resources to keep the application operational.
It was anticipated that the continual degradation of data integrity within the existing event management database would soon reach a critical mass. This scenario, coupled with APB’s desire to provide more effective services to its customers and employees led to a complete rebuild of APB’s event management system.
The new system was completely redesigned by iCorps based on the Microsoft .NET platform. The .NET technology utilizes industry standard approaches; integrates easily with other Microsoft applications; and ensures reliability, scalability, performance, and integrity.
The new system, dubbed CMS2005, provides everything the old system did and everything it was originally designed to do. Speakers can log into the website and check schedules and “sign” contracts online. APB customers (schools and organizations) can sign on and hire speakers via the website. Additionally, CMS2005 extends functionality in critical business areas, integrates appropriate data with the organization’s public and VIP websites, and offers extensive user customization in the areas of UI appearance, voice recognition modules, and user security.
Within four short years, iCorps has completely transformed APB’s information technology from an obstacle into a competitive advantage. APB’s approach to IT today is completely different from where they were back in 2001 when iCorps first came aboard. Instead of being reactive, APB is now strategic and proactive with regard to its technology.
“As our trusted IT partner, iCorps has brought us peace of mind and allowed us to focus on our business,” notes Perry. “Our technology doesn’t just keep us running—it enables us to drive our business, enhance customer service, increase sales, and maximize efficiency.”
iCorps continues to be the firm’s one-stop shop for all of APB’s IT needs. iCorps delivers a full suite of professional IT services to APB including the comprehensive services under the Managed Care program, custom application development services, website design and maintenance, and telecommunications consulting. iCorps’ expertise ensures that technology supports and enables APB’s critical business objectives—today and in the future.