Vol 2, #49, Dec. 7, 2010
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December 7 , 2010


Canadian companies value cloud computing
New corporate edition of social media app
Postmedia launches group buying site
eBridge announces beta program for small biz
Sympatico.ca expands reach southward
SGF invests $6M in Vision Globale's growth
MDC Partners acquires majority stake in Kenna
Recruitment leaders form strategic partnership
Protus Ip Solutions bought for $213M

Canadian companies value cloud computing

A new survey reveals that 62 per cent of Canadian business executives and 23 per cent of IT executives admit to being confused by the concept of  cloud computing. Among those knowledgeable about their company's cloud computing usage, 64 per cent consider it important to their future success, emphasizing the need for more education on this topic.

The survey, conducted in  Canada by Leger Marketing on behalf of CA Technologies, focused on IT and business executives' knowledge about their organization's use of cloud computing, and their perceptions of and behaviour around cloud computing. According to respondents, cloud computing is anything but "just hype" (only seven per cent say it is hype).

Meanwhile, 23 per cent of those surveyed are using the public cloud, while 36 per cent are using a private cloud. In addition, the survey revealed 33 per cent of those surveyed believe that   Canada  is lagging behind other developed countries when it comes to adopting cloud computing.

"While we may currently lag behind other countries, there are mounting efforts to position   Canada  as the ideal home for cloud computing," said   Michael Geist, academic and law professor at the University of   Ottawa. " Canada  is well positioned to become a cloud computing leader. We already have much of the technical and privacy infrastructure in place, we are in close proximity to the U.S. and our privacy legislation meets international standards."

The data also reveals other interesting trends, key benefits, concerns and barriers, and support relating to the state of cloud computing in   Canada  in the following areas:

Key benefits of cloud computing:

Survey respondents were asked to identify the main benefits for public and private cloud:

  • The top benefits noted for public cloud adoption were: cost savings, efficient use of resources, and flexibility/scalability. Executive respondents whose organizations are currently evaluating the use of public cloud say cost savings (65 percent) and flexibility/scalability (58 percent) are the primary motivators.
  • The key benefits listed for private cloud adoption were: cost savings (38 percent), followed by security (32 percent), and accessibility by users (28 percent).

Top concerns and barriers to cloud computing:

When asked about top concerns and barriers to implementing cloud computing in their IT environments, responses differed:

  • Business executives may underestimate an IT professional's concerns regarding privacy issues or poor service from a cloud provider. More than 40 per cent of IT professionals said privacy and lackluster service providers are a top concern (44 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively), while 30 per cent of business executives believe this to be the case (35 per cent and 30 percent, respectively).
  • Security and the U.S. Patriot Act are listed as IT executives' top concerns for moving to the public cloud (68 per cent), while fewer business executives (58 per cent) recognize this concern.

Biggest Supporters and opponents of cloud computing in an organization:

  • Senior business leaders emerged as the biggest supporters of cloud adoption; 40 per cent of respondents listed the CEO, president or owner, or senior business leaders and managers as the biggest supporters.
  • Not surprisingly, executives say the security/privacy team is most likely to be opposed to adopting cloud computing (27 per cent).

Public cloud vs. private cloud:

  • In terms of current use of cloud, 36 per cent of IT professionals and business executives say their company is currently using private cloud, while 23 per cent are using public cloud. There appears to be a greater interest in private verses public cloud computing. Nearly 40 per cent saying their company is aware of the public cloud but have no plans to consider using it, versus 26 per cent who say the same about private cloud.
  • Current use of public cloud is more common in   Quebec  than in Ontario or Alberta (30 per cent, 21 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively).

"Cloud computing is still in its early stages in   Canada  in part due to uncertainty about its bottom-line benefits to business," says Jimmy Fulton, vice-president and country manager, CA Technologies   Canada. "Canadian executives need to understand and embrace cloud computing to gain competitive advantage. CA Technologies helps organizations navigate through the cloud confusion to run their business with greater agility, increased flexibility and added control." Top of Page

New corporate edition of social media app

Engage121, Inc (www.engage121.com), a software company with expertise in social media communications, has announced the launch of Engage121: Corporate, the second edition of the company’s social media management application for brands and businesses.

Engage121’s first social media edition, called Engage121: Enterprise, is designed for national enterprises with local sales outlets, such as franchises, retailers, restaurant chains, dealerships, direct sellers, and local agents. The newly released “Corporate” edition of Engage121 addresses the social media communication needs of companies without a network of local sales outlets.

The Engage121 Enterprise edition was introduced in September 2010 and was recognized only one month later by Mashable.com as the “best in its class at encompassing monitoring, broadcasting and engagement.” Engage121 Enterprise was also nominated for a Mashable Award in the category of “Best Social Media Management Tool” by numerous Mashable readers.

“The Engage121: Corporate edition eliminates the time and hassle of managing social communications across separate, multiple social media networks, tools and blogs, because it integrates all relevant platforms into one application,” said CEO of Engage121 Jon Victor.

“More importantly, we designed Engage121 Corporate so corporate clients can achieve concrete business objectives, like finding new customers, building online loyalty programs, distributing localized coupons, increasing fans and followers, and gaining customer feedback on new product ideas,” added Mr. Victor.

Presently, Engage121 Corporate integrates  all leading social media networks and can be customized to include additional services to meet client demand. The Engage121 Corporate application offers unprecedented components to allow corporate clients to: explore the social web and discover new conversations that matter to their brand; listen to all their key contacts, competitors and influencers in one manageable stream; speak across multiple platforms with one post; and evaluate all activity with powerful analytics and key metrics.

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Postmedia launches group buying site

Postmedia Network has announced the launch of SwarmJam, a collective buying site, powered by CityXpress. Consumers will be able to access great deals via Postmedia’s vast and trusted network of newspapers and online properties. Deals offering 50% or better savings and catering to local businesses, consumers have access to products and services that are relevant, timely and valuable.

Group deals is a growing consumer category, rising in popularity. SwarmJam is a promotion based system using a platform through which consumers are connected with trusted local businesses. SwarmJam’s group buying service aims to offer savings of 50% or better, which for many deals can actually grow if more people sign on. For “progressive deals”, when the offer closes, the number of cumulative purchases determines what price is paid. So, these deals become better as subscribers share the promotion with friends, family and people in their social network.

“Consumers are always looking for a good deal, particularly at this time of year, and our advertisers are interested in new ways to engage customers. SwarmJam is the best of both worlds,” said Alvin Brouwer, President, Business Ventures, Postmedia Network. “Consumers can shop locally and seal the deal in a trusted environment, while advertisers gain access to new customers.”

This new advertising model creates an opportunity for non-traditional and smaller advertisers, who may not have big advertising budgets, to create new revenue streams. From discounts on beauty services to deals from the newest hot spot, with SwarmJam, advertisers can create competitive and unique incentives for consumers and in turn increase client acquisition in the process.

“We are thrilled to work with Postmedia Network to enhance the local shopping experience for Canadians,” said Phil Dubois, President and CEO, CityXpress. “SwarmJam brings new opportunities to serve up great deals to millions of new customers.”

The SwarmJam launch is supported by a national advertising campaign in Postmedia’s daily newspapers, websites and through social media. To see more and save more, visit www.swarmjam.com. Top of Page

eBridge announces beta program for small biz

eBridge Connections, the world’s most powerful accounting integration platform, has announced the launch of the exclusive QuickBooks Beta Program. Appropriately codenamed EOTC or eBridge On The Cloud, this invite-only Beta is free to all companies running both Quickbooks (Enterprise 2010 or Premier 2010) and eCommerce platforms including Magento Enterprise, Volusion, Miva Merchant, ASPDotNetStoreFront, eBay, Amazon and many more supported carts.

This beta program is one more step in eBridge’s commitment to bring all accounting integration to the cloud. eBridge has been working closely with hand-picked participants, with plans to carefully test and refine the first phase of EOTC. If just a beta program then we should mention that in the first paragraph) Feedback and feature requests from actual QuickBooks users will be vital to the platforms’ initial success. While QuickBooks has been chosen for the pilot project, the long-term goal will see integration with all 40+ Accounting and ERP systems currently supported by eBridge make their way to the completely cloud-based offering.

“Accounting integration in the cloud remains our primary goal. It is small business owners who drive our business and leverage our enterprise technology in the cloud. They can significantly reduce costs by having important documents integrated into their accounting package.” said Colin Brown, CEO at eBridge. “Our commitment is to continue to level the playing field for small businesses in the integration space; this is just another step to service a growing market.” Top of Page

Sympatico.ca expands reach southward

Sympatico.ca recently entered an exclusive media representation agreement with Media-Corps (San Diego, CA) an agency specialized in United States media buys for the Canadian marketplace. Sympatico.ca is well known as part of Canada’s largest digital media and communications companies and one of the most effective ways to reach Canadian consumers through their innovative web/mobile advertising solutions. A further reach into the US market is both timely and strategic.

"Simply put, the United States represents excellent growth potential for our business.” says Brad Furtney, VP of Sales at Sympatico.ca. "Given the importance of this market, our search for a media representative there was taken very seriously. Media-Corps was the firm that fit the very specific bill in this case. Their top-in-class understanding of digital media, intimate knowledge of the Canadian market, proficiency in handling English and French content, and a tremendous track record with other tier one Canadian brands indicated they were the partner we sought.” he continues.

Media-Corps commenced representation of the Sympatico.ca portal in October of this year and has now finalized an exclusivity agreement with them entered into today. As a recognized leader in reaching the Canadian consumer for US companies, this exclusive partnership with Sympatico.ca enhances their client services while expanding the reach of Sympatico.ca’s advertising sales in the US.

“Many of our US clientele are seeking solutions which reach the entire Canadian market. Our partnership with Sympatico.ca not only expands our service base, it enables us to capture a larger percentage of total spend with key clients while offering more comprehensive market coverage.” said Robert La Plante, President of Media-Corps.  “We are committed to a strategy that offers fewer clients more time and attention; and still gives us the critical mass necessary to be the go-to solution for reaching premium consumers in the Canadian marketplace.” Top of Page

SGF invests $6M in Vision Globale's growth

Société générale de financement du Québec (SGF) announces its   $6  M equity investment in Vision Globale. Among other purposes, this transaction will enable the company to pursue its growth projects through acquisitions and digital offering development.

Founded in 1989, Vision Globale is Québec's foremost content production, distribution and broadcast services company. Its services cover all needs related to post-production, visual effects, asset management and content production for distribution and broadcasting across movie, television, Internet and mobile telephony networks. The company also owns several copyrights and related intellectual properties in the digital movie and 3D television sectors, including in image restoration and stabilization, among others, as well as an online transactional and distribution platform for video-on-demand (VOD) and digital movies (DCI). The company currently boasts 265 employees working in four specialized tech centers based in Montréal.

"We are thrilled to support Vision Globale's growth strategy and help it continue to consolidate and expand its sectors of activity", said Pierre Shedleur, President and General Manager of SGF. This partnership reflects one of SGF's three strategic orientations, which aims to support Québec-based companies seeking to reinforce their position in their respective market through the implementation of growth and consolidation projects.

"We are proud to undertake our very first capital intake with a partner that fosters sustainable development and further drives Vision Globale to the forefront of the media and entertainment industry", said Mathieu Lefebvre, CEO of Vision Globale. Top of Page

MDC Partners acquires majority stake in Kenna

MDC Partners (www.mdc-partners.com) has announced that they have acquired a majority interest in industry leading data analytics and marketing solutions firm, Kenna (www.kenna.ca) from Newport Partners Holdings L.P. and entered into a long-term partnership arrangement with Glenn Chilton, Paul Quigley and the management of Kenna. Based in Mississauga, Ontario, with over 140 employees, Kenna delivers hosted sales and marketing solutions and services that help their clients build and sustain customer value, accelerate sales cycles, and improve collaboration with channel partners. Kenna's Canadian, US and European clients include BASF, Infiniti, Nissan, CIBA Vision, UFA, Investors Group, Wrigley and MBNA.

Kenna offers their clients the tools they need to define, measure and improve their sales and marketing successes. Through a wide range of data analytics and performance marketing services, they are able to design strategic initiatives that optimize the relevance of every interaction and experience, from attracting consumers to a brand through engaging content and communications, to understanding their needs through a well architected dialoguing strategy, to building loyalty and advocacy through meaningful value propositions and community-building strategies to enable clients to enhance their return on marketing investment.

The firm specializes in turning data and information into actionable knowledge and insights by linking observations of what customers buy, with an understanding of why, and translating those insights into opportunities to drive incremental revenues and improve business performance. They specialize in developing and implementing planning models that result in mutually beneficial relationships with customers and channel partners by applying their deep expertise in relationship management to growing a client's customer base; optimizing the value of their customers; and maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of available sales channels.

"We live in an age of always-on connectivity," said Miles Nadal, Chairman and CEO, MDC Partners. "This is certainly a time when every customer interaction can represent a brand-defining experience and a moment of truth for the consumer. Our partners and management team at Kenna have a deep understanding that brand perceptions and affinities are shaped by the quality and relevance of those interactions across a multitude of channels. They thrive on a culture of driving increasing return on marketing investment for clients and I am thrilled that we can now share the valuable, and unique expertise that the Kenna organization possesses, with all of our clients and partner firms throughout the MDC Partners network globally. Our Kenna partners will further enhance MDC Partners' reputation as The Place Where Great Talent Lives".

Glenn Chilton, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kenna, said, "Marketing is rapidly shifting from episodic communication to continuous customer interaction and experience management. Our technology solutions, analytics and unique direct response and digital interaction capabilities have achieved great success in driving increased sales and steadily improving return on marketing investment for our clients. We believe that with MDC as our new strategic partner we will be able to dramatically enhance the level of sophistication of our offering and our geographic footprint in the years ahead." Top of Page

Recruitment leaders form strategic partnership

Workopolis has formed a partnership with CGI and Talent Technology to offer both companies' recruiting solutions to clients alongside Corporate Works, the applicant tracking system (ATS) and career site hosting provider from Workopolis. This partnership enables recruiters to access Canada's most comprehensive and versatile suite of candidate management solutions.

Corporate Works offers companies the essential tools to attract, manage and select top talent from a centralized database. It also provides organizations with a career website that seamlessly matches the brand of their corporate site, with the power of Workopolis.

"While Corporate Works is a powerful solution for many of our clients, candidate management within companies isn't a 'one-size-fits-all' approach," said   David Resnick, Vice President of Corporate Development and Niche Corporate Development and Niche Corporate Development, Workopolis. "Partnering with these two leading ATS solution providers allows us to offer a broader range of scalable services to meet the changing needs of recruiters -- from those in small organizations to the challenges facing the country's largest enterprises."

Njoyn, CGI's  proprietary recruitment and application tracking system,  provides Workopolis' clients with a fully bilingual, powerful and flexible automated recruiting management system that improves the recruitment cycle and the quality of each hire. Used by leading Canadian organizations and their agency partners, Njoyn offers a suite of features that can efficiently manage the hiring process of even the largest organizations.

"Talent acquisition is a critical success factor for all organizations," said Alain Brisson, Vice President, CGI. "CGI is proud to partner with Workopolis and provide an offering which ensures that customers will have the most comprehensive ATS available."

Talent Technology provides the award-winning HireDesk  solution, a highly configurable applicant tracking system for companies and staffing agencies alike. This solution enables HR executives, hiring managers and recruiters to easily drive company-wide hiring successes and collaboration through powerful on-demand technology that automates and improves recruiting processes. "Talent Technology is excited to work with fellow Canadian recruiting industry leader, Workopolis," said Praj Patel, Executive Vice President, Talent Technology. "Together, we help corporate customers connect and build relationships with more qualified candidates by offering recruiting technology and resources that automate and streamline the hiring process."

The fact that Workopolis and Talent Technology are Canadian owned and operated while CGI is a global company based in   Canada, makes this partnership a PIPEDA-compliant way to collect confidential candidate information that is well-suited for municipal/provincial government and healthcare recruiting. This also means that client information is never subject to USA Patriot Act, a risk with American based service providers. Top of Page

Protus IP Solutions bought for $213M

BEST Funds, BMO Capital Corporation, Celtic House Venture Partners, Covington Capital Corporation, Edgestone Venture Fund and Mosaic Venture Partners are pleased to announce the acquisition of Protus IP Solutions, Inc. by j2 Global Communications, Inc.

The CDN$213 million acquisition (subject to post-closing adjustments) will enhance j2's existing product offerings and further establish j2 as a global leader in the outsourced communications services field.

Established in 1997,   Ottawa  based Protus provides Software-as-a-Service ("SaaS") communications services and solutions to the business market.  The Company's product offerings include MyFax® (internet fax), Campaigner™ (e-mail marketing) and My1Voice™ (virtual phone service). 

Protus is an excellent example of a successful Ontario-based venture-backed success story and underscores the importance of venture capital to Canadian enterprises.  Protus first raised venture capital investment from Ontario-based institutions in 1999 and the Company has grown to one of the leading SaaS providers in North America.  All institutional shareholders are exiting via the transaction.  Top of Page