Why the name “xentity”?

There are two general small talk questions we get asked a lot. The first is “How do you pronounce xentity?” Our usual answer is ZEN-i-tee, CENT-it-ee, zen-ti-TEE, X-EN-ti-tee . Going through life with a name like Tricomi, you hear them all – tric-OH-mee, TRIC-uh-mee, tric-OH-my. To-MAY-toe, To-MAH-toe. Then, we are asked, “OK, so what does it mean“? Thats the fun answer, in which, pending the listening audience, we give a one-liner or the full gist. Below is the latter.

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One week after September 11, 2001, xentity was founded to help businesses restart after the tragedy. Leveraging our previous successful experiences in Travel Architecture (among other sectors – Financial, Energy, Education), we left our previous jobs and gained a contract to help a small business specifically focused on getting people traveling again. Of least priority, was a name.

In 2002, we still didn’t have a name. We were halfway through the first contract, but nameless. At the time, we were proposing business model designs for a prominent venture capitalist who was looking to properly invest in both a business services firm and its enabling IT services. He wanted to understand – does he spin-off IT services, does he run as division, does he sell it to mitigate risks or focus, does he co-invest with us? This reminded me of Orbitz per their name and organization. When doing architecture  proposal support then, they, among several dot-com engagements, weren’t letting us know or didn’t yet know what they would become, so the architecture couldn’t be referred to as T2’s architecture, or a certain airline partners architecture, so in the documents we had put x entity’s architecture. This happened over a few proposals, architectures, and spin-off support.

So, in 2002, we did it again. It was at that time we simply merged x and entity to make xentity. We slapped our first logo and name on our co-investment option with xentity in lower case and in aqua green colors with a grey shadow branded prominently. We only made it official in 2003 once we started with Federal contracts requiring the full formalities.

But, beyond the novelty, what I liked about the name is the homonym nature of it. “entity”, just like the dot-com example, allowed us flexibility in adjusting to the client based focusing and needing change. I wasn’t hitting a rolodex like most consulting firms start out. We were delivering new architecture for new or changing business models, and well, relying on our performance, and the clients executive relationships to say “you got to check these guys out – look what they did for me”. I did not know if the client based would change, or types of services, topical areas, subject matter, level of executive advisory would change, size of client?

And to us x meant change. To digress, x in math typically is the defacto variable for an equation. And, when you are born with an equation in your namsake – Euler–Tricomi equation –   – you tend to have math and lots of x’s on your brain. Add on top of the years of advanced study in engineering, you see x’s in your sleep. Whether its a DIFFY-q (differential equation) where you are mathematically deriving the function as x changes, or you are trying to connect the business drivers, goals, products, technology, resources, and costs – you need to design for change – design for the x or change in your entity .

All I knew is we started to focus on changing groups, entities. We wanted to help clients be more relevant, efficient, and impactful. I knew I wanted to be in change, find people who wanted to make an impact (not a body shop). We started because we wanted to be a part of getting the world flying again. We looked ten years into the future. As noted in our core architecture concepts, we could see the positive and negative disruption of the recent then of offshoring.  We were looking beyond the marketing and selling craze of the internet and tracking Moore’s law on digitized solutions would look to change how the world would communicate, learn, discover, and solve new problems. We wondered how could increasing interaction following Metcalfe’s law impact solutions and knowledge. We looked into how the online could impact the offline and vice-versa especially where once abundant resources were now either trending towards scarce or requiring new solutions. We knew there were so many variables, that change design, analysis, architecture, and planning was needed. We were wowed by veteran innovators – for instance, of course, Dean Kamen, who hit pop fame with the Segway, but interested or more socio-technology solutions such as water for 3rd world.

So, Xentity it was.

In the world of transformation consulting, managing change, leading change, or even just handling change we believe strongly is what will make businesses of this century more relevant and more efficient. With that in mind, when you read the concepts and services, you can likely now see, hopefully clearly, our focus, even in our name is on helping change your entity.

-Matt