IT Hero Awards: IGLOO’s corporate social network heats up Waterloo’s tech community

When he worked as CEO and president for Kuntz Electroplating a Waterloo, Ont-based auto parts electroplating firm, Terry Reidel remembered having special difficulty in locating a Canadian supplier for a certain material. After an arduous search, company personnel finally tracked down a supplier in China.

But they were in for a surprise when they finally got hold of the part, recounts Reidel, who is now a board chairman of Com Dev International Ltd., Canadian designer and manufacturer of space hardware: “We found out that the part in question was built a few blocks away from out Waterloo plant.”

More than just a Facebook profile

Social networking isn’t just about Facebook

Thanks to the Manufacturing Innovation Network, an online corporate social network launched this January, Kunzt and other organizations in the region need not go through a similar experience.

The interactive portal developed by software company, IGLOO Inc. of Kitchener, Ont., uses social networking technology to connect over 1,300 manufacturing companies along with industry partners, government agencies, academic institutions and other related groups. Membership in the pilot program is free to manufacturers and it offers them an invaluable connection to each other as well as subject experts in various fields. Through the portal, members can buy and sell goods and services on line, exchange information, access relevant data and network.

IGLOO is one of several Canadian companies vying for the 9th Annual ITAC IT Hero Awards presented by Intel. The awards, which will be presented at the annual ITAC (Information technology Association of Canada) Chair’s Dinner on June 23, celebrate and recognize the creative application of information technology that significantly improves the lives of Canadians and demonstrates social and economic benefits.

“The MIN is a one stop shop for goods, services and ideas in the region. It helps companies become more responsive to industry developments and makes us globally competitive,” says Reidel.

“With this technology people don’t need to waste a lost of time looking for information. It’s all on the net,” he said.

“The network is an online hub that will help accelerate the innovation process in organizations in the region,” according to Rod Reiger, executive director for economic development for the City of Kitchener.

He said, since its launch six months ago the site has become very popular in the Waterloo region. “It has well over one million page views. That’s a lot for a region of 500,000 people.

The Waterloo Region MIN currently features more than 1,000 company profiles, 300 service providers and 10,000 individual members, according to Dan Latendre, CEO of IGLOO.

“Numerous industry experts are already blogging on the network, helping address issues such as health and safety, finance, exporting, green IT, innovation acceleration and more,” Latendre said.

Latendre said the network was built using IGLOO’s online community software suite which combines content management, collaboration and social networking features.

The MIN offers the following free applications:

• Company directory listing

• Product finder searchable index of all products and services

• Job board

• Professional networking for professional profile sharing, connection and messaging

• Events calendar

• RSS-enabled news service aggregator

• Expert blogger program

• Resource centre

• Wiki-based information collection

• Special interest group (SIG) feature for group discussions and problem solving

“The MIN is not just for finding products, people can use it to locate ideal job candidates, experts in a certain field or even a solution to a particular trade problem,” Latendre said.

Similar systems have been set up by IGLOO for universities and government agencies in the country including an online community for the City of Ottawa.

Latendre hopes to put up 10 other regional MINs in Ontario.

Learn more about IT Hero Awards nominees:

IT Hero Awards: IVR system helps Ottawa hospital unclog thrombosis backlog

IT Hero Awards: CPKN online training helps TO police deal with real-life situations

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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