Mark III Systems revAMPs client services for IT teams

By | 5 minute read | September 8, 2020

You have hundreds of support contracts spanning thousands of technology assets. Buried among them is a critical piece of hardware that your business relies on. Imagine that it’s eight o’clock on a Saturday night and the equipment just failed. The vendor’s call center tells you that the service contract expired two months ago and you’re bleeding revenue by the minute. Now what?

This is the kind of problem that many companies face every day. Tracking asset support status can be an overwhelming task, and the stakes are high for maintaining a high quality of service.

Companies must also keep track of products that are reaching their end of life. As hardware becomes obsolete and replacement parts become difficult to find, IT or facilities teams can easily find themselves unable to source or replace costly equipment quickly.

Thanks to an innovative asset maintenance system developed by Mark III Systems, clients can use a simple but powerful online portal to manage contracts for thousands of diverse IT products. The service has generated hundreds of thousands in new revenue and earned the Houston, Texas-based company the IBM Beacon 2020 award for Outstanding Technology Support Services Solution.

Keeping track of everything

Failure to track hardware assets properly can lengthen the time taken to repair equipment, costing companies productivity and revenue while they wait for repairs. Even products that are supported need better information, explains Rick Hedges, Maintenance and Support Leader at Mark III.

“When you need to make a support call, you often need additional information that the support administrator doesn’t readily have,” he says. “Having quick access to data like the contract’s entitlement information is critical.”

As a leading IT product and service provider, tracking and maintaining hardware is a key part of Mark III’s business. It wanted a system that could stop support renewals falling through the cracks while also streamlining client support calls.

Mark III also wanted to simplify vendor management for clients who often juggle hundreds of small support contracts. Replacing those with a smaller number of larger contracts reduces complexity and cost.

Introducing AMP

Mark III developed its Asset Maintenance Portal (AMP) to help solve these challenges. It evolved from humble beginnings into a self-service portal that allowed clients to track their own contracts.

AMP began in 2012 as an internal Microsoft Access database containing information on Mark III’s client support contracts. Then in 2016, the company began a major upgrade. Participants in IBM’s Technical Support Services Leadership program must offer an access portal to query contract information. It was also a must-have for a large contract that Mark III was competing for at the time.

“Those two things got us off the starting blocks, but then we realized what we could achieve if we invested more time in the portal rather than just meeting the minimum requirement,” explains Stan Wysocki, President of Mark III Systems. “We could create something that would bring value not only to Mark III but also to our vendors and to our clients.”

This prompted a commitment to craft AMP as a world-class client-facing access portal providing clients with secure access to their own data.

Going above and beyond

AMP offers clients access to all the information on their contracts, including warranty entitlement data and expiration dates. This puts clients in control of their own contracts, but it also benefits Mark III by helping it to expand its business with them.

Clients like the way they can manage all their assets through AMP and have all their contract information on hand at any time. When dealing with calls outside business hours, AMP can validate all the necessary information immediately rather than waiting several hours while the operator tracks down a Mark III maintenance specialist.

Alongside its client benefits, AMP has also bought some big wins for Mark III. It gives the company a bird’s eye view of a client’s support contracts so that it can see when renewals are coming up. That enables it to spot IBM products that aren’t covered by IBM maintenance and sell IBM support, helping generate 100% win-back from third-party maintainers. It also lets Mark III sell IBM Technical Support Services (TSS) contracts for non-IBM equipment. Mark III generated almost USD 1 million in revenue in 2019 by replacing competitive products with IBM storage equipment.

Several successful case studies already highlight the strength of AMP’s features. These capabilities enabled Mark III to increase the number of assets it managed at a large healthcare system from 510 to 2500 in three years. Another large healthcare system increased the number of assets it managed with Mark III from 2150 to over 4000 in 2019 alone, according to Mark III Systems.

Over the last year, Mark III has worked hard to ensure that all its clients use AMP. Now it is building on its initial success with the product by using it as a marketing tool to show existing and prospective clients how it tracks their assets.

Onward and upward

Mark III has plans to continue its improvement of AMP. The company has been working on the next version of the product, which it calls Tracker. After gathering client feedback on the first version, the company wanted a more streamlined dashboard-style graphical user interface that would help clients to find the information they needed more quickly and efficiently.

Over the last few years, Mark III has fleshed out its skillset to become a full-stack service provider, recruiting data scientists and developers and creating a DevOps-focused innovation stream. “We realized that we could use this amazing team to enhance our product,” says Wysocki.

This decision coincided with IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat. “That gave us a new set of tools to build on, so we’re creating it on an IBM stack featuring OpenShift and Ansible running containers,” he continues.

These Red Hat technologies helped Mark III’s developers present asset data in an intuitive GUI within the Tracker system. The new version of the tool also provides management with an instant view of their maintenance costs over the next month, three months, and three years out.  So not only does Tracker help day-to-day operations, but also helps leadership manage expenses.

After Mark III committed to building AMP, IBM supported it all the way, Hedges explains. “IBM has amazing technology, great people. Its programs to help us grow our business are second to none,” he says. IBM TSS’s Integrated Maintenance Services gave Mark III the robust service set it needed to win more business from its clients.

The system’s convenience has encouraged clients to source more products and services from Mark III, explains Hedges, adding that the system can manage any asset. This has created some surprising contracts, like muzak.

“One client orders their muzak through us—that’s the music that plays in their elevators,” he says. “They kept forgetting to renew it, so they said ‘hey, can we just buy this from you?'”

Mark III Systems is enjoying flexing its rapidly expanding technology skills to continually enhance AMP, meaning that we’re unlikely to see its fast-evolving innovation slow down. Thanks to its continued commitment, clients can be sure that support for their critical IT hardware will always be readily available.

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