Online Community Vendor Spotlight: SusQtech

This is the fifth in a series of six interviews of CEOs of online community platform providers to the association industry, in conjunction with a white paper we’re writing about them. The first four interviews are here. The white paper will be available for free download in the next few weeks.

SQTlogo

CEO Interview: Mike Steadman, SusQtech

Tell us a bit about the history behind SusQtech. How did you get where you are now?

SusQtech started in 1996 as an international, full service digital agency building and hosting large e-commerce and content-rich websites. Our core solution has always been based on Microsoft’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform; which today is SharePoint.

In early 2005, we transformed SusQtech; deciding to focus exclusively on SharePoint solutions for Associations. We had been hand-selected by Microsoft to be their Association industry partner to help finalize and launch SharePoint 2007, and in the process became convinced that the industry’s long-standing model of custom, proprietary, single-firm solutions would soon change. We recognized that the platform approach is a less expensive, more robust, and safer option for our customers.

Mike Steadman, CEO, SusQTech

We’ve grown organically through the years, and today we are proud to be 100% employee-owned with an active employee stock ownership program (ESOP). The ESOP dynamic has really transformed the way our employees think about their customers. Everyone is a shareholder and has a vested interest in our customers’ success, which translates to our success.

What’s your vision for the company? Where are you going?

Today – SusQtech is well-diversified into four divisions: Training, Products, Solutions, and Support. All four divisions are growing, but the Products Division by far the fastest growing. Our roadmap to 2010 is already underway. We continue to invest in and grow our Products Division, launching our third major product in Q3, with guaranteed quarterly releases and many new products on the horizon. We’re also gearing up for SharePoint 2010, which will provide new features around social computing, collective intelligence, and social search. Because Member to Memberâ„¢ is 100% SharePoint – all new features will immediately become available upon launch. Long term; SusQtech will continue to combine our deep Association experience with our technical expertise in order to deliver quality training, products, solutions, and support to our customers.

SusQtech only hires “lifelong learners†. These are the types of people who work all day on their computers solving complex, technical problems – then go home and immediately fire up a laptop and surf the net to relax, learn, or just hang out online. This creates a vibrant work environment filled with some really interesting, often “passionate†discussions – but this passion creates a positive outcome because our solutions and products reflect real-world, current usability patterns.

What makes the Member to Memberâ„¢ platform unique?

Member to Memberâ„¢, unlike any other product on the market today, is based on an enterprise platform (SharePoint). This is different than saying that it’s based on .NET or the popular LAMP stack. These are tools, not platforms. SharePoint provides out of the box capabilities that support core Member to Memberâ„¢ features, like security, document management, alerts, photo and video libraries, colleagues, search, and analytics. More importantly – the SharePoint platform is both portable and extensible. This means flexibility to our customers. A community can easily move between our tier-1 SaaS offering to a 3rd party hosting company, like Rackspaceâ„¢, or even on-premise in the customer’s existing infrastructure. The license itself is equally as flexible. We offer both a one-time perpetual license with annual maintenance and a quarterly license with free upgrades.

How do you see your platform shaping the association industry? How does it change “business as usual” at the operational level?

We acknowledge that all communities are different – and no matter how they begin – all communities change and grow with each member interaction. More importantly – market demands often force change, as users expect their Association community to quickly adopt new online usability patterns.

Because of our platform approach, we can meet market demands faster than our competition. This is best defined by example: Let’s say community leaders need functionality that provides a mashup using member location and maps. Member to Memberâ„¢ customers have options: They can purchase one of thousands of inexpensive 3rd party SharePoint Web-Parts and install it themselves via the browser. They can find an open-source solution on CodeProject.com or any of the thousands of SharePoint blogs, or if they have the skills – they can build it themselves. This flexibility means they can spend less time thinking about technology and more time on engaging their community members.

If you could use just three adjectives to describe Member to Memberâ„¢, what would they be and why?

Engaging: Our communities are designed to be visually appealing and available 24/7 from any web platform or device, including a brand new iPhone app, which launched this month. Members can subscribe to virtually any element on the community via alerts, and common sticky UI components like “rate this†and comments appear throughout the product.

Simple: This was the #1 design goal for end-users. We know SharePoint is massive – so our “win†was to leverage its power without compromising usability and simplicity at the end-user level.

Interoperable: Our suite of web-services based API’s continues to grow on an almost daily basis. We didn’t start at zero – SharePoint comes with hundreds of API’s out of the box! Member to Memberâ„¢ has successful integrations with every major AMS on the market today.

Stay tuned for the final CEO interview, as well as more details about the white paper in due course.

Want more info on SusQtech?

www.susqtech.com
contact sales @ 888-603-0304
Twitter:
@susqtech

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