What is most valuable?
I’ll tell you why we approached Intellect and why we brought it on board: The US Department of Transportation has a very large IT department and I had an annual budget of $4 billion, 3000 employees, 10,000 contractors, and 200 major systems. I oversaw the Federal Aviation Administration's traffic control system, which was one of the largest systems. As CIO, I got requests from all kinds of folks in the DoT.
There are various bureaus within the DoT, the FAA being the largest. We were getting continuous requirements for developing new systems from various bureaus, our sections, managers, etc. Money in the government is never enough. We would get these requests but we didn’t have the resources to complete the tasks. I really had two options.
One option was to tell these folks that I don’t have the resources and I can’t do anything for them. What that would have done is these guys would’ve then gone and tried to get money from somewhere and tried to build the solution themselves. If they did the development themselves, that would create a problem for me somewhere in the future. That was option number one. The second option was to say that I'll do it, knowing that I never had the resources. I would either not get to doing it or would do it poorly.
I was really looking at a third option. I wanted to have an option where I would say, I am going to give you a resource or a platform which is simple enough that the business user can use and build the system out the way they like it because it is very simple. Then once you decide to operationalize it, we are going to quickly test it. Then once you do the testing, we will just add it to our entire platform and it will be operational across the entire DoT.
How has it helped my organization?
I was really looking at that kind of platform which was plug-and-play. We searched and searched and really never came up with a good solution. We looked at everything from SharePoint to Dynamic CRM to Salesforce. They were too complicated for the average user to actually build solutions. We were looking at Intellect to be that particular solution.
It helps in two ways: One is if you want to quickly prototype something, you can very quickly prototype and build the system out, so that's very cool for an operational system. Secondly, if you want to give your business users something to use very quickly, the system allows you to do that.
What needs improvement?
I think their help feature is significantly PDF-based. I would love it to be more search-based and context-based and give sensitive results. There's potentially an opportunity for problems. That's one thing.
The other part that I’ve seen is that you need to be using Internet Explorer to actually start building this product. I personally use Mac, so I can’t use Internet Explorer so I potentially need to have a simulator to go out and do that. Maybe there is a workaround for that, but those were the two things that I came across.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've used it for one-and-a-half years.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
We've encountered no issues deploying it.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's been a stable solution for us.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The way we have been using it has been perfectly fine. Now, have I used it for tens of thousands of people? I have not, so I would not be able to say that, but for all practical purposes it seems to be scaling well. Essentially it is very, very simple. It has built fairly complex solutions very quickly, so I really like that.
How are customer service and technical support?
I certainly think they have been proactive with us, so I don’t know what the case is with other customers, but with us they have been very proactive.The interesting part that we found is because the solution is so easy, one of the things that we are going to do with Intellect is we are going to have these workshops with Intellect where a business user can come with an idea in the morning and within 5 days learn the platform and actually build that particular application.
We are creating a program like that. We think that's going to be very successful for government users. When they get trained, they will spend the 3-4 days that they are in training building the platform that they want and can then use.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
The company I am running finds major areas of needs or challenges within the government sector, then we try to find disruptive technologies which can actually address those problems or challenges.
If we think that that solution is good, then we do some preliminary due diligence on it, and once that is done, we onboard this on to our GOVonomy program. We have a process to introduce these products into government, so that government becomes more efficient. It was in that regard that we came across Intellect and that's how we on-boarded Intellect onto GOVonomy.
How was the initial setup?
It is not complex. It became a little bit complex for us because I was using Mac and when I tried to use the system on Chrome, it wasn’t working. Then I went to the help and then that's where I found that the help wasn’t that searchable, but then that's where I found that you need a simulator. Once I used the simulator, it was fairly simple. Once you get to know that, it's pretty simple. It takes a couple of hours for you to figure out what philosophy this thing is based on and how you even build it out, but once you get that, it is simple to use.
It can save you tons of time building fairly complex systems, but initially obviously you need to understand how the system is set up and what kind of drag-and-drop features you have and where exactly those features are located.
There is some learning curve there, as with any other kind of system. Even a tool like Word or Excel you still need to know which features are embedded where. It takes a little bit of time for that, but that is not really a particular issue with this software. It is with any software, but once you get to know that things are very, very good.
What other advice do I have?
I want to give this as an advantage and something for potential users: If you are in a situation where you don’t have really high-tech programming or engineering staff to build out applications, and you want to still build out very robust applications, this might be a very, very good tool to use. That's one area.
The second area, as I mentioned, maybe you have the technical folks but they are all occupied and you want your business users to build it out.
Third, if you want to build something but you want to prototype and run it and build something which is massively scalable again, this might be a good application.
Those are the 3 areas which might be worthwhile about the solution.