Rachel Levy Sarfin, writer for IT In Canada, recently spoke with Andrew Dixon, Igloo's Senior Vice President, Marketing & Operations and Stephen Rahal, Marketing/Communications Director about Igloo's product release, Pearl.
Igloo Software, a cloud based intranet and extranet provider based in Kitchener, ON, has garnered buzz both inside and outside of Canada since its launch in 2008. Recently, the company announced that analyst firm Gartner placed Igloo in its magic quadrant for social software in the workplace. Igloo's most recent software release secured its position with a number of innovative features.
Andrew Dixon, senior vice president of sales and marketing, commented on the latest updates to Igloo's platform - the set of new releases called "Pearl." One of the new features is a social analytics tool which allows businesses to generate reports about their employee's use of Igloo's platforms, developed through Igloo's partnership with business intelligence software developer MicroStrategy. The social analytics tool is currently being beta tested, and customers have access to it.
Stephen Rahal, marketing director, explained that this function not only highlights the most active users, but it also displays what content they have generated, how often they participate in discussions or upload documents as well as the type of content a user generates. A user can see another user's participation by day, week or month. Businesses that use gamification to promote greater productivity can utilize the reputation tab of the social analytics dashboard. That tab shows employees' scores and rank. Igloo configures the social analytics dashboard according to a customer's preference. Rahal noted that in subsequent update releases, Igloo will add features that will identify "lurkers" who consume content but do not generated it. Additionally, the updates will offer engagement tools to increase lurkers' involvement.
Pearl also touts what Igloo calls "social archiving" capability. Social archiving refers to the archiving of social media content such as blog posts so those pages do not appear in searches. Dixon remarked that some kinds of content, like Word documents, might be relevant for a long period of time. However, a blog post can have a very short shelf life. Administrators can set community wide archiving rules based on content type. They also have the power to override those rules at the content channel or object level. This feature also cuts off users' ability to comment on content after a certain point.
Igloo users who wanted multilingual capabilities got their wish with Pearl. The company added translation capabilities to its platform. Igloo integrated Google Translate into Pearl so that users can work in French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Spanish. Users can choose their preferences in the dashboard, and the interface appears in that language. However, users do not need to rely solely on Google Translate. Pearl gives them the option to verify translations manually to ensure that they are correct. Users can also send text to a translator, and Pearl integrates the finished product seamlessly.
In addition to its translation capabilities, Pearl introduces a secure file sharing system that rivals Dropbox. Dixon called file sharing a "critical component" of the updates. While Dropbox has a huge following, it is not as secure as an enterprise application; Pearl allows users to send large files to each other securely. Igloo users can drag and drop up to 2 GB files. Pearl's file sharing system shows how many versions of a document exist and who has worked on it.
Dixon pointed out that user feedback inspired some of the updates to Igloo's platform - for example, Igloo developed the social archiving capability in response to clients' demands. Responding to customer needs at Igloo is not considered optional; CEO Dan Latendre mandated that half of a release's updates must be based on client's comments.
Latendre's mandate plays a role in Igloo's success. Dixon added that the company's cloud delivery model allows them to release products quickly: Igloo comes out with a new product or updates every 90 days. Aside from listening to customers, Dixon added that Igloo designs its products so that clients do not need to rely on technical support to configure the platform. This move eases the strain on overburdened IT departments and makes the platform user friendly. Dixon commented that Igloo's approach stands "in stark contrast to other enterprise platforms" that do not release updates quickly, do not take customer feedback into account and cannot be configured by the end user.
Joe Greene, analyst at IT Market Dynamics, sees a bright future for Igloo. He cited the recent injection of $5 million in venture capital funding, which will allow the company to develop its products as well as continue expanding both in Canada and internationally. Greene also finds Igloo significant to the Canadian IT space as well. The cloud "is one of the fastest growing IT markets globally," Greene remarked, and Canadian cloud service providers such as Igloo keep Canada from falling behind in terms of innovation. Moreover, Igloo and other Canadian companies in this space create employment opportunities and give Canadian organizations "a shop at home choice," Greene said.
Greene described the cloud as being "a leading edge global market in IT." The cloud "allows organizations to reduce expenditures on infrastructure, decreases time to market and enables quicker product development," he added. In order to continue its success, Greene counseled Igloo to provide "first class" customer service and to stay competitive. With their client-centric focus and quick release cycle, Igloo seems poised to earn more praise in Canada and across the globe.
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