Why SaaS isn

When upgrading its survey software, Manitoba Public Insurance decided to stay away from the ever popular software-as-a-service model, pointing to international laws such as the USA Patriot Act as a key factor.

Canadian businesses and government organizations looking to purchase hosted software from U.S.-based companies — especially software that collects data from customers — must consider the potential privacy side effects, said Peter Sawatzky, manager of customers and business research at Manitoba Public Insurance.

“We collect information from all registered vehicle owners and drivers in Manitoba, so we were very leery about personal information being allowed to go outside of our system,” he said. “If we were going to go down the SaaS road and the servers were hosted in the U.S., it was going to be a concern for us.”

For the Winnipeg-based automotive insurance provider, the issue came up when upgrading its nearly decade-old survey software system, which the organization originally built internally for employee surveying.

After making the decision to expand to external customer surveying, being compliant with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act became crucial, as did finding a vendor that could implement the system out-of-the-box.

“One of the vendors preferred SaaS as their model, but offered to bring the software in-house and have it customized for us,” Sawatzky said. “When we brought that up with IT, they didn’t like it because the process of customizing the software changes the dynamic in terms of support, ownership, and the ability to upgrade the software.”

After conducting the search, Manitoba Public Insurance chose Austin, Tx.-based Inquisite Inc. and its recently released Inquisite Survey 9.5 tool. The online survey software firm offers an on-premise install option, in addition to giving users the ability to choose any co-location they like.

“This has been pretty popular with Inquisite’s Canadian customers,” said Inquisite CEO and chairman Jim Martin. Canadian clients include the University of British Columbia, Rogers Communications Inc., Mark’s Work Wearhouse and Bell Canada, he added.

Inquisite’s latest release allows users to export live data directly from the survey applications into a variety of Microsoft Office programs, where it can be presented in a spreadsheet or slideshow. The tool’s e-mail relay feature automatically routes survey e-mail from the Inquisite system to the user’s e-mail server for distribution — which should prevent survey e-mails from being labeled as spam.

“This is really becoming a bigger deal now for survey and feedback systems,” Martin said. “It’s not just about ‘let’s do a survey’ anymore. Companies are looking for ongoing feedback, so they want to have a perpetual survey sampling of their customers and their employees to keep a pulse on things.”

Additionally, Inquisite’s single sign-on capability is useful for internal employee surveys, Martin said. When employees log in to the corporate network, their identities are automatically verified in the Inquisite system and any pending surveys are automatically presented.

The survey software is targeted at mid-to-large enterprises and can be purchased for a single user, an individual department or corporate-wide.

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