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Attenex

Evolution of a Start-up in a New Market

Attenex was an innovator in the legal e-discovery market in 2006, leveraging visualization to realize exponential efficiency gains and cost savings for their customers involved in legal review during high stakes corporate litigation. They were the competitors to beat and needed to quickly formulate a strategy to continue swift evolution in a fast-changing new market.

E-Discovery and Attenex

E-discovery software and services originally developed in response to the legal requirement to provide large amounts of electronic data in corporate litigation as part of the legal discovery process, giving rise to the term electronic discovery or “e-discovery”. The proliferation of technology and resulting digital work product in the forms of emails, documents and presentation decks quickly reached overwhelming proportions, forcing legal teams to re-evaluate how to best mine and harvest potentially responsive data for presentation to opposing counsel within a finite amount of time. Attenex Corporation was one of the first software companies formed to respond to this new market need.

Attenex was established in 2001 as a software company offering a unique type of legal review tool, providing law firms and service providers the ability to de-duplicate and present multiple forms of electronic data for attorneys to review, identify and export pertinent materials for presentation to opposing counsel and to courts. Attenex’s distinctive competence in the market was the speed of their review tool leveraging concept clustering and a unique form of visualizing the information within the review. Presenting thousands of documents through this lens enabled review attorneys to realize a “ten-x” efficiency gain in the initial review phase.

Business Situation

Attenex had the ideal start as a software company – they were at the forefront of a burgeoning market with a distinct offering that unarguably and quantifiably solved a critical problem. In the first years of operation they grew to a company of 300 employees, 2000 customers and year over year growth in revenue. However, by 2006, the innovation that had launched the company and established them as a cutting-edge leader of a new and dynamic market did not keep up with trends in the marketplace – the company’s value proposition remained the same due to a product line that had was not able to keep up with the evolving market. Meanwhile the e-discovery market was maturing around them, with countless new entrants possessing similar technologies and threatening their market distinction. Attenex needed to swiftly formulate their strategy and identify a path forward if they were to maintain their position within the e-discovery market.

 

Solution

Singularity Partners was contracted by Attenex to help formulate their strategy and corresponding tactics. Upon introduction to the organization, Singularity Partners conducted a current state assessment including market, competitive, technical and organizational process/culture analyses involving:

  • On site interviews with team members including Sales, Marketing, Development and Operations

  • Assessments of existing development processes from conceptualization to release and maintenance

  • Feedback sessions with a cross-section of their existing customer base

  • Market studies of the existing e-discovery landscape

 

Singularity Partners concluded that Attenex was in need of rapid transformation in order to respond to current market needs, foresee future trends and continue to mature financially. They needed a predictable development method that was iterative, quick and enabled impactful deliverables to remain competitive in acquiring new business and retaining their existing customer base.

 

Conclusion

At the conclusion of a 14-month period, Singularity Partners assisted Attenex in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their software development practices by introducing:

  • Strategic roadmaps aligned with both external market pressures and internal corporate objectives

  • Agile development principles, resulting in gained efficiencies and predictability of shippable products that were impactful to the market and Attenex’s customers

  • Leadership throughout the organizational structure including placement a Vice President of Development and multiple Product Managers for the various aspects of their product platform

 

In 2008 for a sum of $288 million, Attenex made a successful exit through acquisition based on its technology strength and market vision. Attenex today is part of an internationally-recognized consulting firm which serves Fortune 500 companies in the midst of large scale litigation. The software products benefited by the tenants introduced by Singularity Partners still exist today as part of their product portfolio, continuing to serve on the forefront of e-discovery processing, analysis and production tools.

Technological Optimization and Advancement in a Burgeoning Pharmaceutical Industry

Dendreon

Dendreon Corporation manufactures Provenge, a groundbreaking prostate cancer vaccine that has extended the lives of countless patients. Distinct from traditional pill and injection treatments, Provenge is an immunotherapy that works by stimulating the patients own cells to fight the aggressive assault of cancer within the body. Because Provenge regimens are prepared specifically for each patient, a sophisticated technological platform orchestrating scheduling, manufacturing, and transportation logistics provides the backbone of the Provenge process.

Background

Dendreon is a biotechnology company that manufactures Provenge, a drug aimed at treating late stage prostate cancer. Provenge is a treatment process that is comprised of three phases including drawing a blood sample from a patient, processing the blood sample with the treatment and infusing the treated blood sample back into the patient. This immunotherapy based treatment is the first of its kind, representing a significant departure from traditional pill or injection treatments. Provenge has shown through various clinical trials the ability to extend the life of late-stage prostate cancer patients by four months or more, while improving quality of life.

Due to the nature of the treatment, scheduling and logistics are a vital component of the success of manufacturing Provenge. Arrangements must be choreographed between the three key steps in the process: collecting the cells (blood cells which include dendritic immune cells), incubating the cells with Dendreon’s unique protein at the manufacturing facility, and returning to the cells to the clinic for reinfusion. Numerous factors combine to create a treatment schedule for a Provenge patient including:

  • Patient availability for both collection and infusion

  • Collection and infusion site availability

  • Processing availability at the manufacturing facility


In addition to multiple openings that must be coordinated into one schedule among the involved patient, clinics and manufacturing facility, transportation from clinic to facility and back to clinic must be coordinated as well. This all must be orchestrated within non-negotiable time parameters due to the shelf life of the blood sample and drug treatment. If the entire treatment process, from collection to infusion, is not executed in a specific order within exact time parameters, spoiling of the treatment occurs and the process must be restarted by the patient.  To best serve patients and minimize costs, Dendreon must continually strive for operational excellence regarding the Provenge treatment process and all of the steps involved in the process.

 

In 2010 Dendreon encountered several obstacles with the custom software platform developed to manage the Provenge treatment process, Intellivenge. Over years of various third party development efforts, Intellivenge was experiencing performance, scalability and extensibility challenges. It was at this point Singularity Partners was invited by Dendreon to conduct an assessment of the platform’s current state of health and make recommendations for improvement based on the business objectives set forth by Dendreon.

Solution

The Singularity Partners team conducted an exhaustive, global assessment of the Provenge-process supporting technology to:

  • Benchmark current performance

  • Assess the ability to meet business objectives, including future sales projections

  • Identify areas for strategic improvement based on the clinic to plant to clinic workflow

 

Singularity Partners evaluated the capabilities and performance of Intellivenge using principles of Enterprise Architecture as well as commercial software development best practices. The Firm completed a comprehensive evaluation from the business, technology and process perspectives, developing concrete conclusions that were immediately actionable, impactful and tied to solving problems various internal and external stakeholder contingencies faced every day.  Tactics included:

  • Review of existing platform codebase

  • Stress testing the existing solution

  • Evaluation of supporting business systems including Oracle ERP

  • Review of existing end-user workflows and use cases

  • Site visits/walk-throughs of clinics and manufacturing facilities including user observations and interviews

  • Study of internal organizational dynamics between Operations, IT and Sales/Marketing

 

Through a lengthy analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data resulting from these efforts, Singularity Partners concluded that the existing technology platform supporting the Provenge treatment process was not optimized for efficient processing and feature enhancement.  Not only was realization of sales projections at risk due to scalability and concurrency issues, there was vast room for improvement in the architecture to realize better performance and efficiency. Based on these findings and Dendreon’s business strategy, Singularity Partners compiled a 12-month roadmap of projects for the Provenge platform comprised of both tactical optimizations to surpass existing benchmarks and strategic feature additions to help realize scheduling labor and time efficiencies in support of revenue goals. In addition to development of a platform roadmap, the SingularityPartners team swiftly introduced an agile development methodology and agile product management approach, delivered by a team of 37 consultants targeting product leadership, program leadership, and software development.

 

Conclusion

As of June 2012 Singularity Partners continues to serve the Dendreon organization, helping them evolve the Provenge treatment supporting technology platform.  Dendreon’s first milestone of optimizing the performance of the platform was realized in late 2011 and with the guidance of the on-site Singularity Partners team, quickly progressed to a critical turning point of transitioning toward strategic feature development work.  To date, Singularity’s efforts have resulted in Dendreon realizing increased quarter over quarter sales and decreased operational costs while serving thousands of late stage prostate cancer patients.

Expedia

Technical Transformation Through Architectural Evolution

As a multi-billion dollar company providing hotel, air, car, cruise and travel options, Expedia provides the ability to interactively compare and select travel arrangements for the budget-minded online consumer. In 2009, as Expedia’s market share grew, new opportunities emerged requiring technological agility their legacy software did not possess. Expedia was in need of an architecture plan and execution strategy that would swiftly their platform to create new features for their dynamic consumer base.

Background

Expedia is a market leading online budget travel solution incorporating a vastly complicated network of global distribution systems possessing hotel, air, car, cruise and bundled travel data.  Throughout 10 years of growth from a CD-ROM offering to an Internet destination serving millions internationally, the technology platform had become dated, rigid and inefficient in its information and data flow. The Expedia platform lacked scalability and performance, was difficult to build upon for new feature development, and was time consuming to learn for new hires. Based on these factors, it became clear to Expedia their existing technology needed to be redesigned to remain competitive in the online travel market, as well as to operate at optimum efficiency.

The company then embarked on a key initiative to build a new technology platform, departing from their existing C++ code base and selecting a Java-based solution. Following a two year effort to re-build the technology stack, the development team at Expedia reached an impasse – they had no migration strategy to bridge the gap from the old to the new, and they had yet to meet any of their business goals. It was at this time the Chief Technology Officer called upon Singularity Partners for assistance with a path forward toward Expedia’s technology goals.

Solution

Singularity was contracted by Expedia to identify the best method toward a new generation platform without disrupting daily business transactions on their sites. To reach a sound strategy, Singularity conducted a current state assessment including business and technical analyses involving:

  • Reviews of business objectives, feature roadmaps and use cases

  • End to end evaluations of legacy and existing new architecture

  • Assessments of existing development processes from conceptualization to release and maintenance

  • Detailed data flow audits of all complimentary systems

 

Singularity concluded that Expedia was in need of both a system design and migration strategy that together supported daily business transactions on their sites and progress toward their new Java-based platform. Ultimately an interoperability plan was created by Singularity to bridge the gaps between the legacy platform, existing new technology, and the remaining architectural elements still required to meet the goals of the business for Expedia to remain competitive.

Conclusion

At the conclusion of a 12-month period, Singularity completed a proof of concept engagement with Expedia team members developing the split ticketing feature allowing users to secure flight reservations involving two different airlines. This feature was taken to market grounded in the architecture and migration strategy outlined by Singularity, leveraging aspects of the existing legacy C++ technology while gradually introducing functionality built upon the new Java platform. Throughout the development of the split ticketing feature, Singularity’s team of 70 onsite consultants executed the design strategy and collaborated with Expedia team members, coaching them on their development methods while realizing tactical project milestones. At the close of the project, a market-facing feature been completed throughout a technical transformation encompassing:

  • Technical strategic planning and consensus building

  • Theoretical and tactical calibration

  • Team restructuring in alignment with business goals

  • Agile development methods

African safaris, space tourism aboard Virgin Galactic and ultimate cruising on the most luxurious ocean liners of the world…this is just a sampling of trips Virtuoso can offer experience-seeking travelers through their expansive network of travel advisors and suppliers. By leveraging a complex technological platform that creates an ecosystem of elite travel options, advisors and clients, Virtuoso is able to fulfill nearly any desired destination request.

Background

Virtuoso is the world's leading network of luxury travel advisors, collaborating with the best hoteliers, cruise lines and tour companies in the world to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences to elite clientele. Comprised of an estimated 6,000 travel agents, Virtuoso serves affluent travelers that seek full service travel experiences. More than just travel agents, the Virtuoso advisors build relationships with their clients to help them realize their dream destinations and experiences throughout their lives. Connecting travel suppliers with these premier advisors is the cornerstone of Virtuoso’s business, for this reason it is “mission critical” to have immediate access to a broad array of elite travel offerings. For nearly 20 years this business was conducted through traditional means of communication including written correspondence and phone calls. As technology advanced and the business grew, it became clear to Virtuoso’s management team much could be gained from enabling collaboration between advisors and suppliers in an online environment.

Solution

Virtuoso envisioned a technology platform that connected travel suppliers, advisors and client representatives in an online environment. The benefits of this tool were threefold - the platform would enable quicker service for advisors, access to a much broader expanse of travel offerings for advisors and serve as an additional channel for travel suppliers to further expose their offerings to qualified travelers, all aspects combining to ultimately result in better served elite travel clientele.

 

After two years of architecting the platform, Virtuoso reached an impasse – they had a partially built technology that was behind schedule and did not have a clear, expedient path forward to realizing the goals of the project. It was at this point Virtuoso’s executive management team enlisted the aid of Singularity Partners.

 

Upon arrival, Singularity’s team conducted an assessment and concluded changes in technology, people and process were all needed to progress the project to completion. It was mutually agreed that the Singularity team would assume leadership over development of the platform during the engagement in close collaboration with Virtuoso’s development team to facilitate both a technical and a teamwork transformation. This approach would allow the Virtuoso team to work and learn alongside the Singularity team and upon completion of the project, seamlessly step back into ownership of their technology. It would be vital to Virtuoso’s long term success for their team to be immediately ready to evolve the platform forward to meet subsequent needs of the business well into the future, independent of Singularity’s assistance. Change management and empowering transformation were core tenants of Singularity’s approach throughout the project, beginning with initial assessment and continuing throughout completion of the platform architecture.

 

After assessing the existing business requirements, technology, development process and team, Singularity carried out the following activities:

  • Adopted MS.net and Silverlight as the primary technologies for the platform

  • Consolidated the teams geographically for better communication

  • Transitioned to an agile development method to iterate on features quickly, as well as building a sense of team work and shared commitments

  • Integrated Singularity’s team of 70 consultants throughout the organization, from executive management to development and testing

Conclusion

At the close of an 18-month period, Singularity’s team of consultants had assisted Virtuoso with progressing and completing the platform development connecting in real time travel suppliers, advisors and client representatives. In adherence with the business goals and requirements outlined by Virtuoso’s luxury travel market expert, the team realized the version 1.0 features and functions needed to continue the company’s growth in a new age of technology. Within a matter of months, all 6,000 travel advisors had adopting the new online platform, realizing quantitative and qualitative gains in their ability to serve their clients.


At the close of the engagement, Singularity transitioned the platform back to the Virtuoso team for continued evolution, advancement and maintenance.

Virtuoso

Transformative Empowerment Alongside Technological Progress