Who? Would it help if I said Neighborhood America? Probably not, but if Tom Edwards and the rest of the gang at Neighborhood America have their way, you’ll know who they are fairly soon. Tom, the CMO, Jim Haughwout, the company’s CIO, and Kathy Saenz, the Corporate Communications Manager, and I chatted today about the where the company has been, where it is today, and a little bit about where they are headed.
Wait, John, if these people work for Neighborhood America, why are you talking about INgage Networks? Well, come January that’s what the company will now be called. They have been in business for ten years, primarily delivering social solutions to both the public and private sector. However, while they have done reasonably well in North America they are now starting to look beyond North America and, part of that move requires leaving the name behind. While it’s a smart move, I believe, it’s disappointing to see a company walk away from a name they have proudly carried for a decade. However, for the rest of this, I’ll call them INgage in keeping with the new name.
Great, what do they do?
INgage delivers social solutions like blogs, wikis, crowdsourcing solutions and more. They combine these with a strong mobile and business analytics offering. What differentiates them from many of the companies I have chatted with is the approach they use, sending in business analysts first to understand your goals, your targets. Instead of just delivering a set of tools they join with their customers in co-creating a strategy, followed by the delivery of appropriate tools for your needs.
I like this approach for large enterprise companies and government agencies. Your social business strategy is simply an extension of your existing strategies, all must be in alignment to meet your short and long-term goals. If you lose sight of this simple fact you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you are building great relationships but not necessarily delivering any measurable ROI.
My concerns with this general approach is that many companies fall into two traps:
- Taking too long in the up front analysis and never delivering solutions. INgage says they can bring a customer on-line in six weeks, not bad for a large deployment. I’d love to see them get faster and I know they are working on was to streamline both the technical and analysis portions of the deployment.
- Focusing on only delivering their own tools, even if there are other solutions that are a better fit. This may not happen but is always a risk with any company using this approach.
What does INgage do that makes them special?
I need to find time to play with their offering but, based upon my conversation, there are a couple of important reasons to check INgage out:
- A focus on delivering very robust mobile solutions. With today’s mobile technologies there is no reason for any vendor, especially social or CRM vendors, to not deliver robust mobile solutions that provide their customers with near full functionality. They are focused in achieving this goal, watch out.
- A focus on delivering real information through a robust business intelligence system. If you have data that does not provide you with actionable information than you might as well have no data at all. INgage is focused on delivering actionable information.
INgage uses a SAAS-based delivery model but has overcome the limitation of many SAAS providers that co-mingle customers data. Each customers resides in their own “private cloud”, isolating customer data and providing a high-degree of security in the process. To date they have not had to deliver on-premise, I would expect to see it happen at some point in the future.
I’ll keep you up to date on INgage Networks as we enter 2010, they are definitely a company to watch.