New Technology Creates New Value in the Funeral Profession
By Jay Thomas
VP and CEO/Passare, Inc.
I admit that I am new to the funeral profession. But I have spent most of my career in the technology sector. Actually, my children were unknowing beta testers for some of the first personal computers. At that time, we had no idea what kinds of applications a personal computer might have in the real world. It was a novelty, sure. But would regular, everyday people really use these things? What would they use them for?
You know the rest of the story. Personal computers have opened the doors to a whole new world, creating new opportunities for bringing value to the marketplace. None of us knew it at the time, but we did know that we had stumbled onto something that worked and was really cool.
New technology opens the door to create new value. Landline phones were replaced with cell phones and cell phones were replaced by smartphones. Encyclopedias were replaced by Wikipedia. Blockbuster was replaced by Netflix. The old way of doing things wasn’t bad. But the new way of doing things was so much better. With the emergence of new technology, we have the opportunity to wow our customers and become even more valuable to them.
When I joined Passare as VP of Operations, I did so because I saw a unique opportunity to help create new value for families that would help them at one of the most difficult times in their lives. Passare is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that began as a funeral industry start-up in 2012. The company was funded by a group of 18 of the largest funeral homes in the U.S. because they wanted to do something to help the profession create more value for families at the time of loss.
And I’m very glad they did. Passare is now growing at a rapid pace and our clients are seeing their customer satisfaction scores rising. They are now able to help families in ways that were never before possible.
In one such case, a couple in Denver lost their son, a young man in his 30s. They were understandably devastated by the tragedy. In addition, the father was ill and could not leave home to participate in planning the funeral. Our client invited the family to collaborate online, and they, in turn, invited their friend in New York to help them. Together, the wife and her friend planned much of the service from the collaboration center without having to leave her husband’s bedside. Who would have ever thought that we could create that much value for a family with technology? Yet that same technology made that family feel more connected, more valued, and more in tune with the planning process than they would have otherwise.
As Passare grows, we are seeing people using the system in ways we never imagined. People are very creative, and they are finding more and more ways to collaborate and engage with families in ways that bring more and more value. They are bringing us their ideas, and we are finding ways to make those ideas become a reality.
What I’d like to share with you is that this new technology is really, really working. I can tell you from personal experience that not all start-ups are destined to succeed. And even the ones that are good ideas sometimes fail because of lack of direction and vision. It’s very hard to transition a start-up into a fully operational company, and many never make it. But Passare has now moved from a start-up to an operating company. We have already processed thousands of cases within the Passare platform, and in the last 6 months, we have grown by 300% as a company.
I have heard that some funeral directors are concerned that this technology will replace them. That is the last thing we want to do. Actually, Passare makes the funeral director the center of every interaction. The platform is designed around the funeral director, to help the funeral director serve families and bring more value to them.
I believe the greater concern is waiting too long and missing the opportunity to create this kind of value for families who need it. When I look back at that time when my kids were playing with one of the early personal computer prototypes, I didn’t have a clue as to what lay in store. But today, we can formulate a pretty clear idea about the direction of the market. Technology and online tools for consumers will only continue to grow and increase and become more and more available. As I see it, we have two choices. We can ignore the direction of the market (which I don’t recommend), or we can embrace the technology available to us and use it to bring even more value to families. I think the choice is clear.
ABOUT JAY THOMAS:
Jay Thomas brings a solid business and technology background to Passare. Over the past 20+ years, Jay has held several key roles including: leading the development of one of the world’s first unified messaging system at ROLM/Siemens, building technology alliances with Microsoft for a global company, and building and leading Global Services and Operations at Narus, a start-up acquired by the Boeing Company. Jay established his own consulting business to help start-ups focus on connecting their technology to business needs and opportunity. Jay holds an MSEE degree from Santa Clara University.
Passare, Inc., is a privately held Software as a Service (SaaS) company offering the only cloud-based funeral arrangement and collaboration platform in the funeral profession. Passare’s online system is helping funeral directors reimagine the funeral experience for the families they serve. With Passare, funeral directors can connect and communicate with families anytime, anywhere, from any Internet-connected device. To learn more about Passare and our nationwide network of funeral providers, please visit www.passare.com.
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