Canfor Corp. plants content aggregator in its intranet

With over 6000 employees scattered at operations across British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Washington State, Vancouver-based forest products company Canfor Corp. needed a way to keep those employees informed of industry happenings

and feeling like they’re part of the company.

Old-fashioned media monitoring and press clipping wasn’t working with such a disparate workforce, so Canfor found an IT solution.

“”We recognize that the more informed your employees are, the more they feel part of the company,”” says Lee Coonfer, Canfor’s manager of corporate communications. “”Understanding the environment the company operates in better allows them to understand the company’s decisions.””

The solution Canfor found was iiDirect, from Los Angeles-based Forestweb. The company generates its own industry news and market analysis, and gets local news through relationships with publishers like BC News Group, which publishes community papers across BC. Those stories are filtered and feed to clients through Forestweb’s iiDirect portal.

“”It saves an employee from going out and having to look at hundreds of little newspapers trying to get the relevant news,”” says Forestweb publisher Ola Jane Gow.

Canfor’s Coonfer says the firm wanted to make sure their employees were informed of industry news, and Forestweb was the easiest one-stop shop to accomplish that, by plugging iiDirect directly into Canfor’s corporate intranet.

“”It has company news, industry news, financial news, and it ties all those elements together in an easy, seamless accessible site,”” says Coonfer. “”Every employee with Internet access has it, and in all of our mills we’ve set up remote computer kiosks where the mill workers also have access to this information.””

Traffic monitoring shows the site is being regularly accessed, especially on coffee breaks and lunches, and Coonfer says Canfor hopes it will help make them not just a more competitive company, but also a tighter-knit group.

“”It frees up a lot of my time and my department’s time too, it just made sense for us to go ahead with it,”” says Coonfer.

Plugging iiDirect and the Forestweb feed into Canfor’s intranet hasn’t meant any more work for Canfor’s IT staff either. Rami Ghandour, Forestweb CEO, says iiDirect is designed to be completely seamless.

All Canfor had to do was give Forestweb the “”real-estate space”” on their intranet site where they wanted iiDirect to be, plug in some HTML code provided by Forestweb, and make sure their firewall is configured properly.

“”For their people it was measured in minutes, not in hours,”” says Ghandour. “”From their end there’s no IT requirements at all. I think that was part of the main attraction for them, they didn’t want to allocate any resources to this.””

Since it’s a live feed, every time Forestweb updates a story or information the page on its intranet is updated as well. From there, if they click onto a story link it gets it from Forestweb and it opens up.

“”The platform itself is customized to look like a Canfor page, so for them it doesn’t look like they’re going to Forestweb,”” says Ghandour. “”On their Intranet they have stuff that they use internally, and this is just another section called intelligence or something like that.””

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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