Cor Winkler Prins: 4ME Is an Enterprise Service Management Solution That Allows Both the Internal Support Functions and Their External Service Providers To Collaborate Seamlessly and Securely

August 7, 2022

4me is an enterprise service management solution that allows both the internal support functions and their external service providers to collaborate seamlessly and securely, while 4me keeps track of the quality of service that is being provided.

Tell us about yourself?

Cor is the CEO and co-founder of 4me, the first service management solution that enables seamless collaboration between enterprises and their external providers.

He started his career in the service management industry in 1996 helping to set up the global consulting organization for, what later became, HP OpenView Service Desk. As a consultant, Cor has assisted many large enterprises over the years with their global ITSM deployments.

These include Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris and Roche. His work had a major impact on the service management industry when in 1999 he developed the first comprehensive set of integrated ITIL-based ITSM processes.

The model includes detailed work instructions for IT professionals. This set of process definitions and implementation practices was used by ITSM consultants in more than 20 countries when it was acquired in 2007 by BMC Software.

Cor’s main interests are the financial aspects of service management and helping managers optimize service levels while continuously driving down service costs.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Build up a sales & marketing team sooner. Also pay more attention to financial forecasting as that would have allowed to us to invest sooner in growth.

What problem does your business solve?

The IT department of the future will no longer employ network specialist, server experts or database administrators.

All of the roles that require detailed knowledge about a certain technology will be outsourced.

Because there are so many technologies needed to digitally transform organizations, it is also not possible to obtain the necessary experience from just a few MSPs.

Today’s IT departments are already working with more than specialized external firms that help them keep their Azure, ERP, CRM, ITSM, etc. environments up and running. 4me makes it possible to allow all these parties to work together efficiently and securely, while the providers can track how well they are doing for each of their customers and the enterprise customer can track the quality of service they receive from each of their providers.

But 4me does not only do this for IT. The HR, Finance, Legal, and Facilities departments are in a similar situation where they are increasing the amount of work they outsource so that the enterprise can focus on their core business.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

When I was still a service management consultant, I worked for three large global enterprises that asked me how to solve a problem they all shared.

The problem was that, after one of their employees submitted an issue on their self-service portal and this issue needed to be passed on to an MSP (managed service provider), their support staff would need to re-enter the issue in the self -service portal of the external provider.

The solution at the time was the build integrations, but this typically takes about 3 months and costs around $40K per integration. That was 20 years ago. Today, organizations rely on may more external providers (e.g. to maintain their SAP, Salesforce and WordPress environments).

That is why it is no longer practical to build and maintain integrations with each of these external parties.

What is your magic sauce?

Rather than setting up a separate virtual infrastructure with a separate database for each customer, 4me customers all run on the same massive production environment.

This requires a completely different architecture, but allows all our customers to connect with each other when this is desired so that they can connect their workflows.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Set up a sales & marketing organization for North America, similar to the one we set up in EMEA and Australia.

In each region we are aiming the have as many MSPs working with 4me, so that a customer who decides it needs a new service management solution will prefer 4me because it allows them to immediately link up with a few MSPs when they start using 4me.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

We bootstrapped 4me. After the founders had had sold their previous companies, they teamed up to build this new service management solution in which all customers could decide to work together.

This required completely different technology that would allow millions of people to work together concurrently. So the infrastructure would need to be horizontally scalable in a way that our industry had never seen before.

We know it would take a few years to build our MVP. But knowing that we would burn through our savings is one thing; seeing our spouses getting increasingly worried is quite another.

In the end it did take us 2 full years to build the MVP, but then still needed to find a launching customer if we wanted to further delay the moment when we would need to accept VC funding. This was a stressful time. It was not always clear that we were going to make it.

Our solution is built for the largest most complex organizations, but they were understandably uncomfortable doing business with a startup that was made up of only 4 people.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We want to work with managed service providers (MSPs). They are also struggling because their customers want the specialists of the MSP to work in the customer’s service management solution.

But that is unworkable for MSPs because they cannot ask their specialists to log into a different solution every time they need to resolve an issue for a different customer.

And the customers do not really like this either because they would need to pay for the software licenses that will be used by the MSP’s specialists.

So MSPs are realizing that if they use 4me, they can at least already make their customers that use 4me happy. Those customers will think twice before leaving the MSP because they may not get the seamless interaction when the sign up with another MSP that does not use 4me.

The more MSPs work with 4me, the more customers also start using 4me, because their customers see that their MSP selected 4me, so it must be an advanced solution.

In countries like Belgium and the Netherlands you can already walk into a random enterprise organization and find that at least 2 of their external service providers are already using 4me internally. We are quickly getting to this level of adoption in Germany as well now, followed by the UK and South Africa.

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