A mandate for change at Cortex
Tech Trends · Mar 14, 2018
When Chris Lambert hears companies refer to IT as a necessary evil, he bristles. For him, IT is an opportunity in any organization – to enable business efficiency, deliver timely data to make better decisions, and provide the foresight needed to secure the business.
Since joining Cortex, he’s made it his mission to bring forward the opportunities inherent in IT as a true enabler of the business.
Cortex is a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) provider that enables electronic invoicing, helping clients save time and money by automating invoice processing, reducing errors and increasing the speed of payments. Cortex’s current strategic priorities include expanding the business, growing the portfolio and improving on its 97% customer satisfaction rating.
Lambert has been overseeing the IT transition to support the business. At the start of the transition, Cortex’s existing system was efficient from a user standpoint, but underneath it was large, at times unwieldy and hosted on-site or co-located. The goal was to move from an “old school” data centre approach (think capital intensive, complex, requiring specialized skill sets to deliver service levels) to an off-site, cloud managed model focused on greater scalability, reliability and uptime.
“Our company emphasizes being ahead of the curve and beating the competition before there is a race involved,” says Lambert. “We need to be cognizant of the industries that we serve and their sensitivities around security and stability. While we want to grow, we want to do so in a way that positively impacts our customer experience.”
A new mindset
Many organizations pursue growth, but often at the expense of their customers. For Lambert, that is definitely not a viable option. As Cortex grows and adds new customers, he is continually looking for ways to improve customer experience and service levels, including system uptime.
The improvement mindset extends beyond Cortex’s core product. It touches every aspect of IT – process, underlying technologies, management, collaboration, and ways of working.
Lambert’s decision to implement TELUS Business Connect is one example of the improvement mindset in action.
Prior to Business Connect, Cortex had a switch and phone system hardware on site. The solution worked well, but it was limiting in terms of enabling remote work. Now with the implementation of Business Connect, employees can rotate days working from home. In addition, if there is an outage or serious performance issue at the office, employees can still receive calls and service customers from wherever they happen to be working.
“In my view, IT is a set of eyes and ears responsible for looking forward and identifying opportunities for business progress. We have to operate efficiently, but never at the expense of growth or customer experience. Whether it’s our phone system or infrastructure model, we have to ensure healthy, stable, secure growth alongside a positive customer experience,” says Lambert.
A new model
In terms of its core product, Cortex has embraced and adopted a micro services architecture to address volume and response times more strategically.
Typically, network-as-a-service providers rely on a large, monolithic, singular application. In Cortex’s case, it means that one application handles several functions including document intake, transformation, validation and delivery.
However, what happens if one of those functions becomes overburdened? In order to grow, expand capabilities, provide more volume or improve response times, the entire system needs to grow.
With a micro services architecture, Cortex can decompose the application into smaller units that function individually but behave collectively as one application. This type of model enables quicker, more efficient and more cost-effective scaling and decommissioning as business needs grow, evolve or diminish. Cortex can also adapt more effectively as an evolving middle layer between a client’s account payable system and its vendors.
Lambert supported Cortex’s new architecture approach with a move to a TELUS off-site managed server and object-based storage platform (with disaster recovery capabilities).
“TELUS helped to enable a metered approach to running our systems, allowing us to maintain performance under peak loads with an entirely different cost model,” says Lambert. “Our costs increase or decrease based on volume, rather than being a fixed cost. With the micro services model, we avoid overspending or negatively impacting customer experience.”
Extending the lead
In Lambert’s view, Cortex is already an industry leader. The priority now is to extend the lead. He emphasizes partnerships as paramount to achieving that goal.
“We now need to keep pushing forward with our partners like TELUS to achieve more scalability by broadening our outsourcing journey to the cloud,” says Lambert. “With our micro services architecture and more scalability, we can start adding innovation including geo redundancy and localization to further enhance our customer experience.”
For other organizations considering or in the midst of a transition, Lambert stresses the value of strong partnerships and grooming and maintaining those relationships. In an increasingly collaborative world, it is vital to leverage the mindshare and innovation outside of your doors as part of what makes you successful.
“We certainly rely on TELUS’ mindshare and innovation for our success. The reliability and stability of the platform, whether it’s co-location, voice, data or managed services - they enable us to deliver the performance our customers expect. As we make this all-important strategic transition, TELUS is willing to go on this journey with us, learning, adapting and supporting us with a clear roadmap to the cloud.”