Liferay slowly targets Canadian market, says it is investing more in business development

New Orleans, La.Liferay Inc.’s senior executives say by introducing DXP Cloud and acquiring account-based marketing company Triblio, the Diamond Bar, Calif.-based firm can grow its services to more customers and expand its market in Canada.

Bryan Cheung, Liferay’s CEO, said the company started as an open source project in 2000 and formed as a company in 2004. In 2009, after introducing enterprise subscriptions, it became an enterprise portal server. As the team decided to incorporate enterprise subscription, it meant building on its partner network.

“But as we grew, we found ourselves adding a lot of adjacent functionality like content an document management,” Cheung said in an interview during the Liferay Symposium North America.

During the symposium, the California-based digital experience software provider announced Liferay DXP Cloud, a new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that will simplify the deployment, management, and scaling of Liferay DXP.

Liferay now makes software that helps companies create digital experiences on the web, mobile, and connected devices. Its clients include Airbus, Allianz, Autozone, Bosch, Domino’s and T-Mobile, among others.

Cheung said Liferay’s trajectory is to figure out how technology enables a company to create differentiated products and experiences as part of its digital transformation.

“We believe Liferay and technologies like ours are part of the [digital transformation] solution. Transformation is much bigger than one vendor or one technology. But typically, you need to get systems, people, and processes working together,” Cheung said.

He added that by adding DXP Cloud and also acquiring a controlling interest in Triblio, an account-based marketing business, Liferay plans to improve customer engagement and expand in other markets like Canada. He did note that the Canadian market is very different than the U.S.

“What I understand is that [Canada] can still be quite based on relationships and just building the trust with the key IT players in the leading companies in Canada,” he said. “I think we’ll need to invest more in the business development side.”

Liferay Canada’s general manager Joe Shum, who is in charge of business development, said that as an end consumer of many products in Canada, and living in Canada, he is able to see a growth of Liferay’s solution particularly in educational facilities and in the financial and insurance sectors.

“For example York University [uses our software],” Shum said. “Their entire student intranet and employee or teacher’s intranet is built on Liferay.”

He added that there are many institutions in Canada that could benefit from going through a digital transformation.

“I do think Canada, our technology landscape is progressive, and we’re always trying out new things. I see a lot of cool stuff happening with a lot of cool brands that are coming out and challenging the status quo,” Shum said. “I don’t think it’s that. But I do think some of the challenges are in the tools that are available, being able to upgrade some of the existing infrastructures.”

Shum said Liferay is trying to build better awareness of its branding and its software so that more Canadian companies can begin their digital transformation by using Liferay’s solutions.

“We need to get in front of our customers more. So we’ve been doing that by attending more events [in Canada],” Shum said.

‘Portal solution has maybe held them back a little bit’: Cathy McKnight

Cheryl McKnight, an analyst at Digital Clarity Group, said Liferay was smart in introducing the DXP Cloud service.

“Being able to offer a proprietary cloud is a good thing. More and more organizations regardless of the industry are moving that way…for Liferay, I think it’s a great addition. It’ll help people find them,” McKnight said, adding she has known them for a very long time and they’re still a pretty “low-profile solution.”

And that low profile comes from the fact that Liferay used to be a portal solution provider and that still “holds a stigma for many organizations,” McKnight says.

“When I think portal, I think back to the ’90s, and so I think of them being primarily known as a portal solution has maybe held them back a little bit,” she said noting that Liferay has a few big partner names, but “there’s fewer than 20 in the United States, and even fewer in Canada” so “they probably don’t have a profile.”

Though McKnight did say there is a spot for Liferay in Canada but there needs to be more awareness.

“Do I think there’s a spot for Liferay in the marketplace? Absolutely. Do I think they have the breadth of awareness and name recognition that is going to earn them a spot, with what I’ll call with the big boys? Not yet, but I mean, the continual growth of the evolution, the scalability, the flexibility, the governance structure [helps them],” she said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shruti Shekar
Shruti Shekar
Shruti Shekar is a video producer and reporter for IT World Canada. She was formerly a political reporter at The Hill Times and was based in Ottawa. Her beats included political culture, lobbying, telecom and technology, and the diplomatic community. She was also was the editor of The Lobby Monitor, and a reporter at The Wire Report; two trade publications that are part of The Hill Times. She received a MA in journalism from Western University and a double BA honours in communication studies and human rights from Carleton University. She was born in India, grew up mostly in Singapore and currently resides in Canada.

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