Stephen Tanaka, Microsoft Canada's CTO, talks about how Igloo's software is growing and its partnership with the Waterloo-based company.

Published: September 13th, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TXMicrosoft Canada’s Chief Technology Officer Stephen Tanaka said Waterloo-based intranet software solutions provider Igloo Software is a company to watch because of how fast it’s growing and that its services align closely to Microsoft’s philosophy.

Sitting in the press room at the Igloo ICE conference, Tanaka said the software-as-a-service provider focuses on collaboration, communication, content management, and forms a culture that “aligns a lot with what [Microsoft is] trying to drive.”

“We are here creating that [cloud] base platform for the masses and having a software partner like Igloo is one of many partners that can plug in and provide that value-add, and it’s very important to get that reach,” Tanaka said.

This will be the second year Igloo continues to grow its partnership with Microsoft. It will soon offer customers “the option to have their Igloo Digital Workplace solution hosted on Microsoft Azure regions in Canada and Europe, building upon its current Canadian Data Centre, and Azure hosting options in the U.S.,” a Sept. 12 press release said. It added that Igloo will notify customers when this capability is available.

“As the digital workplace becomes mission critical, and our customer base shifts toward, large multinational enterprises, we need to provide them with the flexibility to meet their local data residency requirements,” Stephen Rahal, vice-president of product strategy at Igloo, said in the release. “Microsoft Azure provides us with the ultimate flexibility to meet the needs of this diverse and expanding customer base.”

The partnership with Microsoft will also expand by Igloo integrating Microsoft Office 365 into its software platform, the release said. That would include Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Outlook Calendar, and Microsoft SharePoint.

“These new capabilities help enterprises address productivity challenges in the modern workplace and better support digital transformation initiatives across the globe,” the release said.

For Tanaka, the word digital transformation is “a bit overused,” and often mis-used to describe projects that digitize the analogue world.

“That to me is not digital transformation. Digital transformation is when you’re really doing something with the business and it’s a disruptor,” Tanaka said, adding that because there is a global shift of employees going mobile and working digitally, there’s a market for consumers taking on Igloo’s software.

“If you want to be digital, you have to lead your company down the digital path. To lead your company down the digital path means you have to put the digital tools so people can collaborate, communicate, all the things that Igloo [has]. Their mission is very similar to the kind of mission Microsoft has,” Tanaka said.

Igloo’s next step is to scale of its software to much larger enterprises, and Tanaka said that’s why Microsoft has continued its partnership with Igloo to help grow Igloo’s next journey.

“We’ve been [helping] with scale… and migrating [Igloo] to various Azure data centers so they can free themselves and give them more flexibility and agility.

“As [Igloo] develops new generations of their software, taking advantage of all the different cloud functionalities that are out there, in the past, they would have to re-engineer all of the capabilities on their own from the ground up. If you think about Microsoft, we engineer these capabilities into the cloud for the masses to use. So we are really trying to make computing ubiquitous…why would Igloo spend all the money on engineering when they can spend it on innovation?” Tanaka said.

Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo, said during an interview that Igloo wanted to have a more global presence so moving its solutions platform onto a global platform like Azure for other customers would be beneficial.

“We integrate with almost every component of Office 365. So every enterprise customer, in the way I look at it, is they are using the Office 365 suite, we can overlay on top of it and we create an integrated digital workplace solution.

“The next layers of this is more sophisticated integrations with things like [an enterprise’s] CRM system and so forth,” Latendre said, adding that Microsoft benefits from the partnership because its business driver is Azure consumption and every solution that Igloo brings on board is put on the Azure platform.

“This is the new world, nobody wants to spend time and money and effort building and customizing solutions. We want to get solutions to market quickly so it can bring value to our customers,” Latendre said.

Tanaka said that the hardest part of its partnerships is leveraging U.S. assets. He said that Microsoft went through a reorganization about 23 months ago and realigned its sales and marketing strategy.

“It takes a little bit of time to ingest culturally and organizationally,” Tanaka said. “We just further optimize that to work with partners like Igloo that are probably selling, and I don’t know the stat, but you’re probably selling eight out of 10 dollars to the U.S. How do we leverage those assets?”

He said understanding how to leverage those assets is a work in progress and that Microsoft has improved considerably in the past year.

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