Every Friday I’m going to be reviewing a vendor in the emergent collaboration space and will provide an overview on that vendor which includes everything from leadership and vision to technology and market focus. If you are vendor that would like to participate, please contact me (email is in the sidebar as is twitter link). The goal of these posts is not to bash or praise vendors but to simply offer an objective view on what various vendors offer so that YOU can decide if they are a good fit for your business. Every post will cover the same elements for different vendors. If you have ideas or recommendations for other items to be covered in these posts then please let me know and I will consider them.
This week I’m taking a look at Igloo Software. Igloo is based in Canada with around 35 employees. I spoke with Andrew Dixon (SVP) and Stephen Rahal (marketing communications manager).
Igloo offers a complete and open API which allows for a lot customization and manipulation of their platform. What I really like about Igloo is their simple widget based applications which are literally drag and drop, this means that customizing an instance is relatively painless. Customers also have the ability to develop their own custom widgets which makes integration into any legacy or emergent system relatively easy. Several widgets already exist out of the box such as salesforce and sharepoint integration’s. Igloo also integrates with active directory and offers complete single sign-on functionality. So for example if you are pulling in data from sharepoint or salesforce you don’t need to log in separately into each one of those platforms. The integration I saw with salesforce looked quite clean.
Igloo offers various support packages which range from email and phone support to dedicated support for large accounts. A customer technology and care community also exists for trial or paid users who wish to interact with other customers and learn more about the platform. An up-time of 99.5% is guaranteed but the average is 99.95% with the past few months seeing a 100% up-time, so the product is very stable. Igloo also has a team that helps organizations get up and running with design, UI, customization of the platform, and strategy consulting. Typically new clients go through a needs assessment and within 2-3 days a mock-up or pilot of the instance is ready to go live for trial. Deploying the actual pilot just takes a few minutes. Igloo doesn’t offer in-house community management support but they do offer training for employees and also provide a playbook which is essentially a series of best practices and strategic recommendations to help organization’s succeed.
Igloo offers several versions of the product: basic, professional, and enterprise. A full breakdown of the feature comparisons can be found on their “compare editions” page. Organizations can expect to pay anywhere from $4-$10 per user per month
Maintenance & Upgrades
What I particularly like about Igloo is that around 50% of their upgrades and changes are driven by changes around customer requirements and customer feedback. This means that customers actually help shape and build the product, something that becomes hard to do with many large vendors in the space. In addition to these customer driven updates typical bug fixes and other updates are standard. These updates come in 45-90 day cycles.
Overall direction/strategic vision for the company/leadership team
Igloo does have an impressive leadership team. Dan (the CEO) used to be a VP over at Open Text so he has been in the industry for some time. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to actually speak with Dan but I did speak with Andrew Dixon the SVP of marketing and operations (which means he doesn’t sleep much). Andrew spent a lot of time over at Microsoft before he left as the CMO of Canada. Needless to say he is quite familiar with the large enterprise players today (such as sharepoint) and is aware of the many challenges that companies are faced with when deploying such vendors.
Igloo has a unique perspective on emergent collaboration. They don’t see themselves as a vendor trying to change how employees collaborate but instead see themselves as a vendor empowering employees to more openly collaborate but in the context of the productivity tools that many enterprises are already using (such as MS Office). This means that Igloo tries hard to integrate their solution into the existing flow of work and sit on top of existing infrastructures and tools. Their long term vision is to build a connected enterprise but not in the way that most vendors go about. Most vendors are approaching emergent collaboration as trying to be THE one central platform that employees use at work. Igloo on the other hand is all about multiple team and department deployments within the enterprise that can then connect together, so instead of having one giant platform you effectively have nodes which can communicate and integrate with one another. This makes it much easier to sell into organizations. Eventually as organizations deploy multiple internal solutions and customer solutions (which they also offer) the goal is network them and integrate them all together. In essence the approach is modular. Igloo wanted to stay true to their vision of being a true web 2.0 which is why they left their offering 100% cloud based.
Igloo is very realistic and they understand that there are now well over 100 vendors in the space that offer similar capabilities, features, and design components. They see consolidation and the emergence of a few key players. Igloo also believes that simply focusing on either customer or employee communities solely will lead to failure, instead they believe in offering collaboration solutions for multiple purposes. When I asked them about email their response was that successful platforms can still make the most of email but not look at email as the only solution. Successful platforms can still make the most of email but not look at it as the only solution.
Key differentiating factors from competition
Igloo doesn’t see themselves as a software company, they see themselves as a services company which means that they pride themselves in delighting their customers. They are easy to deploy and only offer a 100% cloud based solution. Igloo is agile and driven by their customers to be agile and responsive to business demands. Finally, they don’t sacrifice on IT controls which are oftentimes required to fit within the enterprise. Their product is built keeping in mind both the business users and the IT professionals. You can check out their full feature list for a more in-depth summary of what Igloo can do.
Igloo offers full customization of their platform from a design standpoint. Their customers have the option to control everything from colors and logos to taxonomy structure, folder names, and CSS.
Time to go live
A 30 day trial of the product is ready to go live within a few minutes (after 2-3 days are spent on the design and customization elements tailored to the company). To deploy a full instance for around 2,500 people takes on average 30 days but for complex deployments this can run to around 90-120 days (for example doing something with 5 country intranets fully integrated into back-end systems).
Igloo is built using a widget based architecture on ASP.net with a REST based API and a SQL server back end. Igloo does have a dedicated Blackberry app for mobile but as of yet does not offer this functionality on any other device, this will change towards the end of the year where all major mobile devices will be supported. One thing that potential customers will be interested in is the level of permissions and controls that Igloo offers. The permissions are extremely granular down to every individual, every document, application, or workspace.
Igloo’s focuses on companies with 2,500 or fewer seats, so this can be either a mid size organization or a team within a large organization. They mainly serve the mid-market and are strictly business-to-business. Typical buyers are either business owners, marketing or sales professionals, or service professionals and IT managers. Igloo’s client base has been somewhat focused around healthcare, technology, and professionals services but their overall client base is quite diverse.
Capabilities (customer, partner, employee collaboration)
Igloo can deploy any type of collaborative environment whether it’s a social intranet or a social extranet, this means that they can engage with employees, partners, or customer. Igloo offers four turnkey solutions for either intranets or extranets. For intranets these solutions are: corporate intranets, marketing portals, sales portals, or project management portals. On the extranet side these include: customer portals, partner portals, board room portals, and deal room portals.
Igloo is a 100% cloud based solution with either single or multi-tenant offerings. They are SAS 70 Type III compliant and are a Savvis partner which is a leading provider of cloud infrastructure solutions.
Igloo usually runs into Telligent and Jive on client deals but also see Sharepoint and Newsgator in a few instances as well.
Igloo has many well known brands as customers including Deloitte, Blackberry, Cisco, Synnex, and others.