with Gary Eisenstein
1. What does innovation mean at Falcon?
Innovation is where we really get to shine. It’s about thinking beyond what’s currently out there and finding new ways to build something better. It also means opportunity—the opportunity to take something that’s being innovated and to put our own twist on it to help our customers.
2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
Mobile applications and social-media technology have definitely been the driving force for us over the last 24 months, but as far as new technologies, we are seeing a rise in web engagement management and website personalization as the future driving forces for Falcon-Software.
3. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce?
It’s almost not necessary. We have a talented group. A lot of the time, I have to make sure I have provided enough time in my schedule to hear the ideas our team has come up with. The challenge is on my part, not theirs.
4. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank?
We make a conscious effort not to be that cutting edge. It’s a big risk. I take what’s already been innovated and improve on it. A lot of times, the first company out of the gate with new technology doesn’t make the most money.
5. How has the notion of innovation changed over the last decade?
Organizations are finally starting to fully comprehend how innovation can be so important to the growth of their business. With that said, I’m still on occasion stumped by the number of companies out there that have yet to adopt the undisputable advantages of technology.
Gary Eisenstein didn’t start out in the software business. Twenty years ago, he owned a wire-and-cable brokerage firm, West Coast Wire. In order to efficiently handle requests from customers, the company developed a software-based catalogue called CableSmart, which listed thousands of cabling products from dozens of different manufacturers.
CableSmart proved so successful that after Eisenstein sold West Coast Wire, he decided to build a new business, Falcon-Software Company, Inc., around it. “I liked how the program worked, and it gave West Coast Wire such a big advantage,” he recalls. “I wanted to be able to sell it to other buyers of wire-cable products across North America.”
The product was revolutionary in 1993. Soon, Falcon-Software received requests from cabling manufacturers to create electronic catalogues to showcase their products. “Eventually, the customized catalogues made more money than sales of CableSmart,” Eisenstein says.
Gradually, Falcon transitioned away from CableSmart and more towards customized e-catalogue services, for such clients as Hitachi. “It seemed like overnight, but it was really more like a year’s process of shutting down CableSmart and going into a services-based model,” Eisenstein says.
The process repeated itself when Falcon’s customers began requesting something new: custom development for the web. The result was Falcon’s first online catalogue. “We were in the right place at the right time,” Eisenstein says. “We were putting a little more thought into it, providing deep amounts of content to our customer’s clients.”
Web catalogue services naturally evolved, and Falcon began providing proprietary content management system (CMS) for its clientele. As CMS solutions grew in popularity, Falcon faced a choice.
“We had to make a decision,” Eisenstein says. “Did we want to be a software company, or did we want to be a services company? It made more sense for us to shelve our proprietary CMS and invest in relationships with larger CMS vendors, which was the best decision I’ve made in years.”
The move allowed Falcon to keep the sales constant, as Eisenstein was able to focus on deploying a vendor’s software and winning bids. In addition, the vendor partners were invested in seeing their products implemented, and they became an inadvertent sales force.
Today, Falcon specializes in “.net” CMS solutions and has become proficient in delivering them. In order to add value for customers, Falcon doesn’t just deploy CMS, however—it also provides on-site and remote training for its clients. “We customize CMS systems so they can integrate with customer-relationship-management systems, enterprise-resource-planning systems, and shopping-cart systems offering a more complete e-business solution.”
Adapting website content for viewing on different mobile devices is currently one of the Falcon’s leading services. And while the company remains headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, it has offices in both Seattle, Washington, and Dallas, Texas. “When we were looking to open up other locations, we contacted our CMS vendor partners and asked them what areas were being underserviced,” Eisenstein says. “Those areas became our focus. There’s no use competing in a market like Boston that’s overrun by CMS integrators.” The company is currently considering opening additional locations in Toronto and Chicago.
While others try to guess the future of technology, Eisenstein takes a different view. “I don’t play the prediction game,” he says. “My customers will always tell me where I need to be. I just have to make sure that I’m listening.”