Rachel Levy Sarfin, writer for IT in Canada, recently spoke with Igloo's Marketing & Communications Director, Stephen Rahal, where they discussed Igloo's latest product release, 'Q'.
Think about the software you use most on a daily basis to get work done. When is the last time the manufacturer announced a new update to it- a year ago, or more? In the cloud, software works differently. For example, Kitchener, ON-based Igloo Software, released an update for its collaborative work platform a few weeks ago called "Q." Before that, its most recent update came out about three months before.
"We're driven by customers," said Stephen Rahal, marketing and communications director, Igloo Software. The company actively seeks out customer feedback and strives to incorporate end user suggestions into future releases. Rahal estimated that roughly 50% of those ideas make it into Igloo Software's new releases.
Q builds upon Igloo Software's previous customer-driven updates. Rahal explained that Q is designed "to better integrate with productivity tools" such as Outlook and Gmail. With Q, content is now email enabled. A user can now post to a blog, forum or wiki directly from his or her email. Moreover, each channel has its own email address, and users can download contact cards and add them to their address book. If the system administrator does not wish for certain users to be able to post content from their email, that feature can be turned off throughout the system or for a given channel.
Igloo Software users now also have the ability to see related workflow. When they read a blog post or a wiki, it contains a link to the relevant documents. And when a user visits the link to the relevant item, a link to the blog post or wiki appears. Users can add and remove links to content as they see fit.
Another update affects Igloo's calendar. Q creates a Google Calendar-like experience, Rahal commented, but with additional social features enabled through the cloud. Invitees can comment before or after the meeting takes place, and with Q, will be able to do so for recurring as well as one-time events, and can send and receive invitations, attachments and reminders through a mobile device. Employees who cannot bear to abandon Outlook's calendar need not fret: events created in Igloo's calendar show up in Outlook, formatted to that calendar's standards. In addition, if you write a note on the event in Igloo, it appears as a note in Outlook.
Igloo Software has also upgraded the search capability within the platform. "We rewrote the algorithm," Rahal said. The overhauled search capability helps users overcome the challenge of being able to find other employees and information, he added. As a business grows, both information and people can find themselves inside of silos, making it difficult for others outside of those siloes to make those connections. The new search algorithm works much as Google does: a user can type in part of a word or phrase, and a list of results appears below.
Beyond being able to find the correct person when you need to, users can also refer to contacts via a Twitter-like posting on the platform. Every user is assigned a Twitter-like handle; system users can type a colleague's name into the search box, select the right handle from the list, and write a brief post mentioning that person; the co-worker is notified immediately and can respond in kind. "It's a great way to get someone's attention and connect with them," Rahal commented.
Capitalizing on another feature of the cloud, Igloo is also making progress on integrating social analytics within its platform. The social analytics function is now in open beta testing, meaning all Igloo Software customers can try it out. Igloo Software continues to make changes to the social analytics function based on beta testing feedback, Rahal said, noting that customers often want to see different types of reports tailored to their specific needs. Rahal believes that Igloo Software is "just scratching the surface" of understanding employee behaviour through its social analytics function. In the future, managers might better understand why one employee is more productive than another based on his or her collaborative work platform connections through social analytics, Rahal said.
ITMD analyst Joe Greene expressed optimism about the success of Q. "This release significantly enhances Igloo's intranet capabilities through improvements to email, calendaring, search and analytics," he said. He also thinks that Q's updates will make people "more efficient and productive" because it enables them to collaborate more easily.
Greene sees the collaborative work platform space growing more competitive, which will put more pressure on Igloo Software to stay one step ahead. However, the company will need to balance innovation with customer service. "Grow too quickly," he commented, "and you have can have a hard time maintaining first class customer service." However, as long as the company keeps "working with its users to ascertain what further improvements they are looking for," Igloo Software should be able to capitalize on the strengths of the cloud software distribution model, and maintain its leadership role in this space by releasing innovative new updates such as Q.
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