Our history has shown what we can be,
but the future tells how we can better serve you
Like many of our customers, Ai2 is family owned and managed. Ai2 was founded by John Katich in 1986 – a brilliant software innovator. In 2009, after John Katich’s passing, Douglas Katich, Esq. sold his successful East Coast based intellectual property and commercial litigation law practice to take over leadership at Ai2. Unlike many of Ai2’s competitors, Ai2 is debt free and non-venture capital funded.
Ownership has no exit strategy — only a commitment strategy. Ai2 depends on its customers’ success, just as Ai2’s customers depend on it. The company operates under three maxims imparted by its’ founder:
- “It is better to turn the customer down than to let him down.”
- “Sell the customer what they truly need, not necessary what they want;” and
- “Only happy customers buy more software.”
The history of Ai2 started in 1986, Access International, Inc. was in the business of communications protocol converters. IBM midrange computers ran in synchronous mode, and Access provided a protocol that allowed them to interface with a variety of asynchronous input devices.
In 1989, a pharmaceutical supplier approached Access to develop a complex order entry system that would allow their Sales Reps in the field to send orders to their IBM midrange computer. The result was OrderTaker, a DOS-based order entry system. OrderTaker was later renamed OrderWriter® and marketed to other wholesalers with the IBM midrange computer.
In 1992, Access International created the ACS, a server based on IBM’s OS/2 operating system. This allowed OrderWriter® to communicate with any computer, allowing Ai2 to provide their software to wholesalers running other mainframe, midrange, and minicomputer systems.
1993 saw the release of OrderWriter® for Windows, the first commercially available order entry system to permit the use of the pen and tablet PC’s that the new Windows operating system made possible. Access focused its attention on sales automation, and providing its customers with highly flexible order entry solutions that could be easily customized to the needs of any wholesaler’s business model.
In 1996, Access released WebWriter™, a web-based platform for customer order entry. This allowed a wholesaler to move the task of placing day-to-day restocking orders to their customers, freeing up their Sales Reps for things like increasing account penetration and opening new accounts.
In 1997, Access debuted CityDesk, an in-house order entry system that couples with OrderWriter® to provide the same information to both Sales Reps and Customer Service Representatives.
In 2003, Access took advantage of the developing power of handheld devices, and released POW®, a version of OrderWriter® formatted for the Pocket PC with the added ability to scan. This brought the power of OrderWriter® to a new range of customers, those working with retail stores. 2003 also saw the release of ACS for Windows server. Once again, Access International moved away from closely held backoffice systems to broaden the appeal of our products.
The history of Ai2 saw a revolution in 2008. The reduced cost of handheld technology made Pocket PC’s cost-effective as an order entry device for customers. Access released HERO® and ACE™, smart and simple order entry solutions designed specifically for retailer use. Later in 2008 Access debuted POET®, the integration of over twenty years of sales automation know-how with the revolutionary features of the new Windows family of operating systems. POET® brings the flexibility that Access has always provided to its customers to the users themselves, allowing users to display information in new ways, so that they can better understand their business and provide better service to their customers.
In 2009, Access International became Ai2. This more modern appellation reflects our commitment to implement the most up-to-date hardware features and software capabilities to help our customers serve their customers. Although the name has changed, the ongoing commitment to high quality, flexible, powerful, easy-to-use software remains the same. This was also a sad year in the history of Ai2 with John Katich’s passing.
In 2010, Ai2 debuted Apollo, a business intelligence and analytics tool designed to help managers and executives track sales data. Apollo is available as an add-on to any Ai2 product. 2010 also saw the introduction of Zap-It, a module for WebWriter that allows retail customers to scan UPCs and shelf labels. Zap-It is a low-cost way to automate several hundred retailers at a time.
2011 was a big year in the history of Ai2. In the first quarter of 2011, Ai2 introduced ProSel, a revolutionary new sales tool for the iPad. Keeping up with the demands of today’s mobile sales force means giving them much more than order entry capability. ProSel is designed to be a complete catalog and presentation tool for any mobile sales representative. In September 2011, Ai2 moved to its new offices at 2 Prudential Plaza. Late in 2011, Ai2 debuted Pigeonholes, a fast and convenient app for enterprise document management on the iPad. The app allows for fast syncing of any file type to one or a thousand iPads in the field. The app is now known as bSource.
In 2012, Ai2 revolutionized customer order entry with the release of OrderShark™, a customer order entry app for Android, iPhone, and iPod Touch. OrderShark™ embraces the new “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) approach that promises to save our clients hours in user support and thousands of dollars in hardware costs.
In 2013, Ai2 rounded out its offerings with the release of DeliverPro, a full spectrum delivery documentation app for iPad, that covers everything from the drivers inspection to customer signatures to documenting receipts and deposits.
In 2014, Ai2 released eMarketer, a mobile marketing app with push notifications to help companies market directly to their customers’ smartphones. OrderShark continued to gain adoption as retailers and distributors embraced a BYOD mobile app approach to their sales order entry. ProSel added several new enhancements, such as digital signature capture, exporting orders, and barcode label printing that was certified by Zebra. Also in 2014, WebWriter got a complete redesign to make it compatible with all the major browsers and mobile devices. Ai2 introduced OrderOasis, an online order entry solution for retailers, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, schools and anyone who needs to place regular orders.
As the history of Ai2 moves into the future, Ai2 is committed to continuing to develop the most flexible and reliable mobile order entry management solutions for our customers and their customers. Our goal, as always, is to help you do business better. Today it is estimated that our solutions are used by over 100,000 users each day to write over $100 billion in orders each year.