FP Growth Strategies: An old dog can learn new tricks, at least in the world of business management solutions
October 27, 2014
By Tony Wanless
In the current go-go, make-millions-fast, technology culture, companies rise (and sometimes disappear) with amazing speed, largely because of the impact of computing and the Web.
Colligo Networks, a Vancouver-based information-sharing enabler for large enterprises, has taken the opposite route. It launched way back in 2000 — what many technology engineers today might consider the dinosaur age — and today is helping 5,000 businesses, including more than 75% of the Fortune 500 companies, manage and share crucial information lodged within their systems.
Colligo started when the mobile Web was new, crude, and awkward, but now, 14 years later, has become a web-based leading maker of software that aids communications and data management by large, enterprise-level companies. It has been able to evolve into a modern cloud-based software technology supplier by constantly morphing along with the market it serves.
Of course, there were several inflection points along the way. Colligo (then called SyncroPoint) launched when mobile first appeared, but its file-sharing concept fizzled because, at that time, it was too new. Also, companies feared releasing their information outside their confines and so protected it behind strong gates.
To access another market, the company moved to helping enterprise clients with what they did use online: Lotus Notes. In case memory fails, Lotus Notes was the earliest suite of applications (based on databases) that, though primitive, was much loved by early technology adopters for its information-sharing capabilities. It was sold to IBM in 1995 and then deployed to the companies serviced by IBM’s technology division.
Lotus Notes’ general usage waned in the early 2000s and so the newly named Colligo Networks turned to Microsoft’s new SharePoint system, which also provided a suite of communication, data management and other software applications for businesses. Today, SharePoint has expanded to offer tools such as intranet portals, document and file management, and collaboration.
Colligo adapted the notes program for the SharePoint platform and eventually built another program that allowed SharePoint to facilitate laptop-to-laptop communication, much like email did on more familiar platforms.
However, it quickly was clear that simple laptop-to-laptop communication was really just the beginning of a much larger phenomenon involving mobile information-sharing. The company realized it needed to create an application that would provide continuous mobile access. This led to a product that would synchronize SharePoint data across several mobile devices. “Eventually, it became total mobility,” says Barry Jinks, Colligo chief executive, somewhat amazed himself at the speed of evolutionary change.
The new access pleased customers, but also created a new problem. Many customers loved mobility but discovered they often couldn’t find the, often gated or hidden, information they wanted to share. So Colligo created Colligo Administrator to manage it.
Of course, companies, especially very large ones, don’t particularly like giving unlimited access to their data, which can include all their financial, strategic and other sensitive information. They wanted to see gateways installed to control access and prevent loss of valuable data.
This led to Colligo Engage, the newest Colligo product. It is a platform-agnostic sync engine that facilitates cloud-based content delivery, data management and visibility, and information control for any device.
“Data loss prevention has become huge,” Jinks observes. “The biggest issue in enterprise technology today is data risk, especially when people use multiple devices. But with this, companies are not only able to push out content, configure it, and analyze and monitor it, but also manage it.”
Apparently, the old dog is able to learn new tricks. Today, Colligo’s new products vault the 15-year-old company into a position as one of the most modern out there. Colligo is now active in six of technology research company Gartner’s top 10 strategic technology trends for 2014, most of which are concerned with mobile and cloud use.
Jinks happily points out, however, that such growth is a result of an evolutionary process, at which mature companies excel. Colligo was first an app developer, then a creator of apps for corporate data management, then a cloud service, and then a process control deliverer.
“This is the apex of all we’ve done,” he explains, tracing the route from basic application software to provider of high-end process control. “We’re now a business-problem solutions provider.”