Montreal’s Silanis takes IBM Beacon Award

Montreal-based Silanis Technology was the sole Canadian company recognized in IBM’s Beacon Awards for its business partners at its recent PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Orlando.

Silanis, which manages electronic signatures, took home the award in the Best Insurance Industry Solution category, a sector which, according to company CEO and co-founder Tommy Petrogiannis, makes up the majority of the company’s business, despite the challenges it’s faced over the last three years.

“Spending may have slowed down, but the need for compliance is even greater – you’ve got an electronic evidence trail that’s way more robust than what’s going on in the paper world,” Petrogiannis said.

Although the company has its roots in Canada, Petrogiannis said 90 per cent of the company’s business is in the U.S., and that it does more business in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa than it does with the traditionally conservative Canadian insurance and financial services sectors.

But that’s changing, he suggested, as “the Canadian market is racing to do what the U.S. has been doing for a while,” both for competitive reasons and because of the number of Canadian financial institutions that have come to know of the e-signatures technology from acquisitions of troubled U.S.-based counterparts over the last few years.

Among the next waves for the company may be the mobility sector. Petrogiannis said the company is seeing increasing interest in its e-signature systems running on tablet computers, allowing users for applications like BMW’s lease buyback program to gather information wherever they may be.

The Beacon Award is the second in as many months from Big Blue for Silanis. In late January, the company won the Business Transformation Through Cloud Computing category of IBM’s Lotus Awards for its e-SignLive electronic signature service for LotusLive.

Petrogiannis said the company started getting close to IBM when it noticed IBM was there in all the same accounts it was calling on with WebSphere middleware, with DB2 and with Lotus Forms. He said Big Blue’s solutions focus was attractive to the company.

“We see where IBM is going with the Smarter Planet strategy, and it’s about packaging the right pieces together,” Petrogiannis said. “These are the kinds of opportunities we can jointly go after.”

About a year and a half ago, Petrogiannis said, Silanis “jumped on the Lotus Live bandwagon,” part of one of its two big bets: social business collaboration. Petrogiannis called LotusLive “the first true collaborative vision that came out that made sense from a business point of view, bringing the benefits of social networking with security and business rules around it.”

The second big bet for Silanis is also a familiar topic for Big Blue – analytics. The company’s systems go beyond e-signature collection to keep a close eye on workflows and how data is collected, offering “a treasure trove of data” about what customers are up to” when it comes to business processes.

“We have visibility into that part of the business that nobody’s ever had before,” Petrogiannis said. “We’re going to leverage both on-premises and cloud-based offering to deliver analytics. A year from now, that’s going to be the way to do business.”

The company acts as an integrator for its own services as well as working with IBM business partners to deliver solutions, and Petrogiannis said that like Big Blue itself, the company sees the channel as key to its success in the midmarket. It particularly sees itself working with more partners as solution providers move to offering cloud aggregator type of role.