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Igloo Provides Comprehensive Social Business Platform

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Igloo offers a SaaS solution for social business that bridges internal and external collaboration and networking. I recently spoke to Stephen Rahal on their latest moves.  They offer major product releases every 90 days and half of their new features are driven by customer input. Since they use the tool themselves, Stephen walked me through their own usage.

Igloo strikes a balance between ease of use and configurability for the end user, while still meeting the requirements of IT.  Set up is easy as it integrates with Active Directory and provides a comprehensive means for application integration that I will cover later. It combines the file sharing capabilities of traditional intranets with the collaboration capabilities of a social business platform. There are activity streams, blogs, communities, events, wikis, polls, project workspaces, and discussion forums. Templates are available to use in configurations and the components are added through widgets so you can design your own system without any heavy IT lifting. There is also presence and profiles. Below is a sample home screen.

One of the features I like is the ability to separate activity streams from microblog chatter as you can see above. Many tools combine these two related capabilities and it can be confusing. In Igloo’s case activity streams are the auto-generated chronological records of activities around documents such as starting one, editing one, and commenting. Microblogging is the Twitter-like manual updates provided by users. Document sharing is enhanced by the activity stream notifications. Then anyone with access rights can see and comment on the document. This provides a much more efficient means than traditional email. You can see a document being shared and commented on below.

Project workspaces can have all the features of Igloo but they are devoted to a specific workgroup around an initiative. The leader can select the relevant components. One person can have multiple project workspaces to cover their different areas of responsibilities. You can see a sample project workspace below.

Application integration is key to making any social platform relevant to the business you need to be able to integrate the conversations with the transactions and incorporate these capabilities within workflow (see Integrating the Interactions with the Transactions). Igloo provides several means to this end. There are pre-packages integrations with widely used tools like Salesforce and SharePoint.

There is also an open API that can connect to tools like Microsoft Dynamics; Moodle, an open source learning management system; and other enterprise applications. You generally need IT support to enable these integrations but they are one-time tasks that take a few days or weeks in the most complex cases. To provide quicker integrations you can also embed a site within an I-frame but this is only useful when you simply want to present information without the interactions. The deeper integrations require the API.

There is a comprehensive widget library to help assemble the Igloo instance you want. Capabilities include blogs, search, RSS, calendars, forms, and wikis. They can be easily added or subtracted and arranged on the screen. Others can be reached through icons across the top of the screen. Some of the widget library is shown below.

Igloo has partnered with MicroStrategy for improved analytics. You can set up filters on factors such as time, projects, and people and then create reports. Analytics can look at activities, content, comments, and other factors. The next release will have even more filtering capability. The results can be made very granular and exported to Excel for further analysis. Below is a sample analytics screen.

There are gamification capabilities. You can also make comparisons between groups on metrics as shown below.

There is dynamic translation that currently works for English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. A participant who knows a language can confirm that they agree with the translation so others will know it is not simply a machine view. Mobile support includes cross-platform support for iOS, Android with future support for BlackBerry and Windows.

Igloo is being well received in the marketplace. The IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012 Vendor Analysis said that, “Igloo had the best overall solution capability rating from respondents.” It has also has appeared on the Magic Quadrant for the past 4 years. I like the ease of use, the flexibility, and I can why they are getting these ratings.

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