Eclipse is a leading provider of enterprise-class document design, presentation, generation, automation, and customer communications management software. The company’s prestigious customers include GE Healthcare, Huntington National Bank, Konica Minolta, Legal & General Insurance, McKesson Medical-Surgical, Nucor Steel, Pella, PPG Aerospace, Tyler Technologies, Worldpac, and thousand more from 40 countries. Eclipse’s scalable pricing model allows the company to provide the same features and performance to its smallest customers that they provide to their Fortune 10 clients. Eclipse’s policy of ‘Never-Ending Improvements’ provides its customers with new features that enhances their performance every quarter.
Learning Life Lessons through Experience
Steve Luke is the CEO of Eclipse Corporation. Steve has been in the computer industry even before he completed university. He worked full-time during the day repairing computers and communication equipments and attended university full-time at night. Most of Steve’s focus was on printers that generate mission-critical documents. As a field engineer for a Fortune 10 company, he installed and repaired any device connected to the computers. Printers were a big part of Steve’s job. He began to focus his attention on improving the graphic presentation of information provided for documents, invoices, statements, packing slips, and any customer-facing document to make the printer facilitate a better presentation and automation of data collection.
In Steve’s early career, he was repairing computer terminals, printers, and data communications devices. Steve was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After having his pager alert and being available throughout the night, Steve quickly realized the critical work that computers were doing. With electronic printers that relied on complex mechanisms to function properly, Steve also saw that mechanical failures were the most common delays. He began to focus on solving the issue and jumped into the world of laser printers. In the early ’80s, people started replacing pre-printed forms with plain paper and the form image was produced with the software on laser printers. In the end, it was not enough.
In the early ’90s, Steve realized that the world needed truly dynamic data-driven document and form presentations following which the e-form era was launched. Later in 1992, Steve developed a GUI design and delivery software that eliminated the need for black boxes and other hardware to produce a graphically rich presentation and the need for pre-printed forms. Today, Eclipse provides a leading global software solution (DocOrigin®) that offers advanced data-driven presentation and delivery of documents, forms, and labels in electronic and paper formats.
Conquering the Challenge of Over-Enthusiasm
Steve recalls that patience was not his friend. Whenever an idea popped up in his head, Steve wanted to try it at the same moment. His drive and energy level had him thinking all the time. At work, Steve looked for team members who were talented and driven to create new solutions in both software and hardware. His enthusiasm and non-stop ideas drove into tough weather and hard decisions. Steve’s team did not have the bandwidth to tackle all his ideas at once. They had to make decisions that were often difficult and kept some good ideas on the shelf to focus on the dream of becoming a global player in the electronic forms and document industry.
Three Must-Have Attributes for Innovative Leaders
Steve thinks that an innovative leader should possess three important attributes,
- Leaders don’t ask the team to do something that they won’t do themselves- Being such a driven and high-intensity person; it took Steve a while to realize that not everyone in the team had to be like him. Steve couldn’t expect them to work the hours he was willing to work. Steve realized that these team members were creating real value and contributing great ideas without working excessive hours. More than 70% of his team has been in the e-forms software business for 20+ years.
- Innovative leaders treat their team the way they would want themselves to be treated.
- Leaders provide flex hours to employees and avail remote access to the company’s servers. Since the early 90s, Steve has come across team members of all ages and different family challenges. Henceforth, he started the initiative to give his team members more flexible hours and let them know that their families come first. This has made a huge difference in the dedication Steve saw from his team.
Introducing ‘Never-Ending Improvements’ & ‘No Sunset’ Policy
Eclipse’s document software is mission-critical to the company’s customers. Computers don’t sleep. Global companies operate 24 x 7 x 365 days a year. Eclipse’s maintenance and support agreements are an important part of the company’s success. When clients contact Eclipse’s team for help, the company solves their problems and regularly asks customers for prospects and ideas on improving the software and service. The company has a policy they refer to as ‘Never-Ending Improvements.’ The standards and technical requirements for document formats are constantly changing from PDF to HTML, Printer Drivers, email, SMS, APIs, Web Services, and more. Eclipse has to keep up with these changes to meet the needs of its customers.
Eclipse has a ‘No Sunset Policy’ for its software. Computers and operating systems are not completely under the company’s control. Eclipse is currently providing software on all major operating systems. Sometimes these OS systems fall behind or as the industry refers – ‘sunset’ the current technologies needed by the customer. Eclipse’s perpetual M&S agreement allows a client to move the software to any of the company’s OS versions at no cost for the OS change.
Creating and Producing Documents in Real-time
The key to Eclipse’s ability to support customers in any industry is the fact that the company’s documents are dynamically created and produced in real-time using the data provided by core software and AI technology used by the customer. For instance, Eclipse’s Master Document Template (MDT) technology has always been data-driven. If a parent company operates multiple brands in a global environment, then Eclipse’s MDT technology allows customers to create a single template for any document without hard coding logos, company colors, legal terms & conditions, or languages the customer supports. Implementing Eclipse’s software helps customers save hundreds of hours and 60-70% cost on maintaining templates every year.
An Exemplary Perspective Towards Technology
If Eclipse has learned something about customer communications management, enterprise document, and label generation, it is that this industry continues to find ways to improve the technology. Some of the improvements are created by the Eclipse team and others are created by standards and compliance committees. The company’s current customers include Fortune 10, the SMB market and everything in between.
Eclipse’s R&D team continues to grow every year. This is what the company refers to as ‘Never-Ending Improvements!’ Even in 2020, with the Covid-19 issues that affected everyone, Eclipse’s R&D efforts increased by 15%.
A Living Role Model for Emerging Business Leaders
Steve presumes that most entrepreneurs start their business life working for other companies. However, many of them have a drive that seems to keep them up at night. In some cases, the idea is a way to improve something that they are already doing or something that has just been a curiosity for them. Steve remembers that the biggest concern when he started coming up with ideas in the computer technology industry was that he could not create anything that competed with the product his employer created and sold. He faced the challenge of having ideas that only filled the gap. Steve grew competitive by learning a lot from customers and friends in the industry. Steve says that initially, money was a challenge, and leaving a Fortune 10 company was scary. What pushed him over the edge to jump into launching a start-up was the thought, ‘I have succeeded in my current job. So if I have a good idea, I am confident that I can make enough money to pay myself equal or greater and can earn more than I make now!’ Steve used his savings to start the company. He loves to work and still enjoys learning. Since starting Eclipse in 2005, he has never looked back.