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Jacada – A Startup Hidden Inside a Veteran Company

Jacada was founded 16 years ago by Gidi Hollander. The company used to be involved in developing applications (which are considered old by now).
Today the company focuses on developing new products for the call center industry.

We spoke with Jacada CEO Gidi Hollander and Human Resources Director Meirav Shoval about the company’s recent change in direction and its current activity.

“Jacada used to be involved in a narrow sphere of activity in which it was very successful,” recalls Gidi. “Sales grew, the company issued shares on the NASDAQ and got through the period of the bursting bubble quite easily.
At the beginning of the decade the market for the old products became very competitive, which lowered prices significantly. We realized we would have to change course.
This didn’t happen overnight and the moment we found the new sphere of activity we lowered our profile considerably."

“We’ve found ourselves in an interesting situation: We have a company with very impressive income from the sale of the old products we developed, which generate tremendous earnings, and we are investing these earnings inside the company, in a startup we founded within the company. Really we have two companies under one roof. Until three years ago 95% of the company’s earnings derived from the old products and 95% of the investment funds were directed toward the development of new products. This was not visible on the outside, because the company maintained stability, but for the past few years we’ve been functioning as a startup company. We developed new products using advanced technologies and during the rough years the high-tech market encountered we invested and grew. Today we are a very successful startup company.”

Jacada has the advantage of being a startup with 1,200 customers from its previous period to provide backing. “We have a reputation as a solid, veteran company.
Our customers include huge companies and we are a public corporation traded on the NASDAQ Exchange and in Tel Aviv. In our case the startup is hidden away.

What area is the startup established within the company involved in?
“We’re involved in call centers. Everyone is familiar with the ordeal of calling certain service centers: the long and tiresome wait, the attempt to speak with a human service representative and the transfer from one service representative to another, which forces you to answer the same questions over and over again.
Jacada’s task is to solve all these problems."

How does Jacada improve the call center’s ability to provide better service?
“We’ve developed unique technology that provides the phone center a lot more information than what is at its disposal today.
One of the problems that prevents call centers from providing good service is a lack of information. The processes it has to go through to provide the customer a suitable response are long and complex.
Our technology makes the call center much more efficient. It allows a situation in which the conversation with the customer is shorter and more to the point and the call center winds up providing better service. Thanks to our technology the training period is also much shorter.
The turnover rate among call center workers is tremendous, therefore the issue of the training process is critical to the employer."

What does the call center operator gain by raising the level of efficiency and service?
“When the phone time with the customer decreases the call center’s output increases and the number of employees decreases. When the call center provides better service the call is better and the customer is more satisfied and does not have to call back. This saves our customers tens of millions of dollars per year.”

What does Jacada provide its customers in addition to the product?
“Jacada is not a company that sells a shelf product. We sell a comprehensive solution that comes with all the experience we have acquired in this area, including consultation, training and a detailed study of every customer’s special needs.
We provide our customers a solution on various different levels, offering a combination of technology and psychology. The psychology of the dynamic between the service representative and the customer is very important."

“We live in an era in which the world changes all the time. The customer has to be able to change and update itself quickly and easily. We have created a system with a very strong ability to change. The majority of our customers are large telecommunications companies that are constantly evolving and our technology allows very rapid changes.”

How was the call center business chosen?
“We invented this market. We identified a problem many organizations considered unsolvable and we created a solution that didn’t exist previously. We have hard figures pointing to amazing results.
We proved a call center that executes its work through our technology does so in 45% of the time needed beforehand. This is a tremendous savings for the employer.”

Jacada employs 150 workers, half of whom work in Israel. The other half are in the company offices in the US. Jacada’s customer base is in the US and Europe.

Jacada employees travel abroad frequently to accompany projects at the customer site. Gidi makes sure every employee goes on at least one business trip per year to get a firsthand look at the situation.

What technological solution does Jacada offer?
“The field we invented essentially automates the processes that take place on the screen. The service representative’s screen displays various applications.
We unify them, directing the applications to the agent and not to the system.
In the current situation a lot of applications arrive from various departments at the organization that are not necessarily tied to the call process, making the call slower and more cumbersome.”

Describing the character of the company Gidi says, “I founded Jacada 16 years ago. When I set up the company it was very important to me to make it free of company politics and a fun place to work. To make it fun for people to be together.
Throughout its history a central parameter in employee recruitment has always been the people’s character traits and personality. We gauge excellence and demand a very high level of professionalism, but it’s very important to me that the people here are human. That the company is not overrun by egos, intrigues and politics. This approach has brought about a company that’s really fun to work at. We are a company that pampers its workers while demanding very high levels of quality and professionalism. We provide the workers a pleasant working environment along with interesting and challenging work.”

Jacada’s lunchroom is the core of the company. The workers don’t just eat well (every employee selects lunch from a list of 50 restaurants, Jacada pays and everyone sits down together in the lunchroom), rather the lunchroom reflects the company’s attitude and the importance Gidi attaches to social aspects at the company.

“This is the place where work gets discussed,” says Gidi. “I think it’s really important and it’s something I created here from Day 1 (when there was just one lunch table). It was very important to me from the start for people to spend time together socially and that the workers have a good time with one another. This brings Jacada together and Jacada has earned a reputation for this in the market – being a company that’s fun to work at.”



Human Resources Director Meirav Shoval

Says Meirav:
“Job turnover is very low at Jacada. People stay here for a long time simply because they have it good here. Most of our employees have families and we try to be very considerate of their needs. We don’t demand crazy work hours, except when necessary. People who come to work here know they don’t need to keep watching their backs. They know we are thinking of them and looking out for their needs.
We take care of our people on various levels. On the professional level, as well, we make sure people work on what interests them and what matches their abilities as precisely as possible."

“Our developers are responsible for projects from start to finish. We don’t have programming laborers here, rather we develop using the most advanced technologies and the developer is involved in every phase of the project. We have brilliant programmers who could get work elsewhere very easily and they stay here for years because they find the work interesting. The work here is challenging and the large number of projects allows variety and interesting work. In addition, we promote people from the inside. It’s dynamic here and people get promoted relatively quickly.”

Commenting on Jacada’s upcoming recruitment drives, Meirav said:
“Our growth rate is moderate and gradual. We’re looking primarily for development and QA personnel at present.
The QA people we’re looking for are testing engineers with a background in Java development.
All of our QA personnel have a degree in computer science and very high technical aptitude.
The developers we are looking for are primarily experienced Java-J2EE programmers and Web 2.0 programmers.” 

For the Hebrew Article

 
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