68 THE POWER OF POSSIBILITY NISC | 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION AND MEMBER SERVICE over 25 million lines of code. Use of the software continues to grow. In 2017, iVUE Accounting and Business Solutions hit a milestone with its installation at the 700th Member site. Annually, ABS software calculates over 1 million paychecks, tracking an annual payroll of over $2.5 billion for 41,000 employees at NISC Member sites. And every year, about 50 more utilities or telecoms choose NISC’s ABS product over offerings from prominent software companies such as Oracle. Members have driven the ABS success by shaping the functionality that is tailored for utilities and telecoms, says Ed Wolff, Vice President for Professional Services. “They have helped us provide a product that is literally beating [companies that are considered] ‘the world’s best,’” he says. In2016,NISCMembersconvergedonthecavernousAmerica’s Center convention complex in downtown St. Louis for the Member Information Conference (MIC), where they could test Relationships A BROKEN SERVER IS NO MATCH FOR THE BOND WITH MEMBERS Technology moves at a dizzying pace, but for SEI Communications in Dillsboro, Indiana, it rests on a firm and lasting bedrock of relationships. When the cooperative brought fiber optic internet to southeastern Indiana, putting the region on par with its urban counterparts, it kept its priority on serving its loyal members and valuing its longtime employees. That focus on relationships underlies the connection between SEI and NISC. SEI first came to NISC in 2010 seeking to replace an “antiquated” carrier access billing product. Then SEI expanded into other products. Since NISC was a cooperative, “We felt that type of relationship would be a good fit with our company,” says General Manager Tony Clark. The strong commitment to relationships proved to be a lifesaver on a Friday morning in August 2016, when SEI suddenly experienced a problem with one of its servers. NISC was able to investigate the issue remotely and determined that it was a malfunction in the hardware. Even more alarming, through an oversight, the service agreement on the Dell server had lapsed. SHARED VALUES While the server was down, customer service representatives took orders manually. They had no access to customer records. Initially, Dell promised to have the server running by Tuesday. Mike Weber, then Technical Services Implementations and Support Manager, and his team began working with Dell, relying on their own long-standing business relationship. Dell agreed to rush the parts to Dillsboro and send a repair technician on Saturday. Weber called SEI’s IT supervisor at 1 a.m. to tell him about the plans. “I know I woke him up, but I knew it was worth it,” says Weber. By Monday morning, the server was up and running — and covered retroactively by a renewed service agreement. The episode confirmed Clark’s decision to shift to NISC. “We thrive on customer service and making sure our members come first with new products and services we offer. NISC does the same,” he says. “They take care of their Members.” It meant a long day for Mike Weber, but a satisfying one. “Going forward, they know they’re with the right partners, and that’s what’s important,” he says.