An Interview with Pete McChrystal
See Also: PowerSearch - PowerPoint Add-in Review
Interviewed By: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: February 23rd 2005
Last Updated: March 4th 2009
McChrystal is the founder and CEO
Pete graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1984 with a degree in Business Management. After a brief career as an officer in the United States Army,he founded Accent in 1990. During the early years,Accent’s focus was on high-end presentation development and management services for corporate clients.Today, Librarian is used by many Global 2000 companies to manage and distribute documents and presentation materials to global offices and mobile sale forces. Accent Technologies continues its growth and focus on developing presentation and advanced document management products based-on the Librarian platform.
Geetesh: Tell us more about yourself and Accent Technologies.
Pete: Accent Technologies was founded in 1990 to address high-end presentation needs for corporate clients. Back in the early and mid 1990’s, most of our clients called on us for special presentation events, while others engaged us with a more process-driven approach involving the management and repurposing of the critical presentation assets. Managing these assets efficiently was challenging, so it made the need for automation obvious. In 1997 we pioneered the first commercially available automated presentation management system, Presentation Librarian.
Accent has since evolved into a product company focused on improving client business processes with the help of our solutions. Our services are directly related to enabling clients to maximize the value of their critical business document assets within their given business processes. Given that statement, presentation management is still a critical core competency at Accent—-we are strategically focused on pushing this technology to higher levels.
Geetesh: How can a typical PowerPoint user benefit from cataloging presentation and other visual content. How is Accent Technologies placed in the presentation cataloging market.
Pete: Just about all organizations use PowerPoint presentations to report, sell, train, or disseminate information. Often, the content found in PowerPoint slides is the most up to date and accurate information available to an organization. Yet, these materials are often stored in a disorganized or even haphazard manner—-spread across individual computers and servers. For users, it’s very difficult to leverage this knowledge when it is not easily accessible. We have focused nearly a decade of development effort in bringing solutions for users that make them more productive with presentation assets (PowerPoint and the rich-media content often used in presentations).
Accent entered the presentation management market very early. Today, we’re extending our technology into many advanced features that enable much more efficiency in managing presentation and rich-media assets. As an example, we’ve recently implemented a capability that automatically senses and tracks rich-media files used in PowerPoint slides. The system auto-senses linked media files and imports them into the library along with the PowerPoint files. When users select a slide with linked media they can choose whether or not to include the media file with their downloaded slide. Features like rich-media life cycle tracking make the administrative team’s job much easier and improve the service level to the end user.
Geetesh: Tell us more about DAM and ADM - and your solutions for the personal and enterprise sectors.
Pete: In many ways we are a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution. We support all the common rich-media formats and apply special features and capabilities as they relate to presentations. Some of our clients do use our Librarian product strictly as a digital asset management solution because of its scalability and ease of use.
Our Advanced Document Management (ADM) technology platform is our latest development accomplishment—-and it has been very successful in the marketplace so far. It extends our fundamental approach to presentation assets into the mainstream business documents sector. In short, we provide users access to information at what we call the “relevant content level.” This means we let them browse, search and retrieve slides, pages, and paragraphs versus entire files. It significantly reduces the time it takes to get users to the information they really need.
From a product portfolio standpoint, we try to accommodate clients of all sizes, from individual users to Global 2000 firms by providing a range of solutions. We find that they all share a common problem—they spend too much time searching for information in presentations and standard business documents and media files. For personal and small group users, we have our ASP Edition. This solution gives individual and small business users access to the same technology the big guys use. For larger clients, we have our enterprise solution which provides a great degree a scalability and extensibility. Larger clients often choose to tailor the solution or integrate it with other legacy systems.
Geetesh: Can you share some case studies involving use of your products and solutions?
Pete: Yes, absolutely. Let me provide some variety here to give a good perspective. In terms of presentation management, Citigroup Asset Management is a good example. They use Librarian to share presentation content between their London, New York and Tokyo offices. They are currently in the process of upgrading to our ADM platform to further enhance their collaboration capabilities.
Pfizer is another good example. Five or six different business groups at Pfizer use our ADM solution for a number of different purposes. Their business development group uses it to coordinate and disseminate sales and marketing literature worldwide. Their corporate affairs group uses it to manage and distribute policy and legal guidance. Pfizer is now considering deploying Librarian on an enterprise basis.
Avaya is using our solution in a sales and marketing support role. This is very typical use of our technology. They use Librarian to allow sales team members quickly create tailored presentations and brochures for customers, and see Librarian as a significant competitive advantage.
Geetesh: Tell us more about your support infrastructure.
Pete: We have two major support groups. One group supports our ASP customers and one that supports our Enterprise customers. As a relatively small technology company, it is our support that keeps clients happy and fuels our growth. We realize that delivering a technology is just the first step. Helping customers leverage the technology wisely and being there and taking ownership when problems arise is the critical aspect. It does not matter whether the problem was user induced or not, it is still our problem—-our customer is not happy. This has been the single biggest reason for our success.
Geetesh: Can you share some trivia - perhaps an unconventional use of Presentation Librarian or something similar?
Pete: Let me give you some variety here:
Adobe Systems was our first Enterprise customer in the late 1990s. They were so impressed with what we did with PowerPoint slide management that they asked if we could do it with PDF files—-so we did. It has been very successful.
Merrill Lynch invited about 40 vendors to compete for their presentation center solution in 2003. At the end of the competition, Accent won the business.
Lockheed Martin originally purchased Librarian to manage their executive group presentations. Now, they are positioning to use it as their corporate-wide Digital Asset Management Solution.