More and more strides are being taken by Calgary’s high-tech industry toward helping diversify our economy and increase employment opportunities.
Chaordix is a good example, using its innovative technology to revolutionize how brands engage with consumers, fans and other stakeholders.
Launched by Shelley Kuipers in 2009, it was created to use the power of crowdsourcing to help companies gain actionable insights into their businesses. Today, it supports companies such as Lego that has a captive audience of a million in its brand community, thanks to the Chaordix software that built it.
Kuipers has since moved on to another technology company based in Europe, and the Calgary-based but world-recognized Chaordix is now under the leadership of CEO Terry Sydoryk, who has built up the company to establish online communities for several mega brands.
“Where traditional social media platforms are where people go to kill time, the online-based communities created by Chaordix are where they go to spend time,” he said. These communities go beyond the typical Twitter feed, bringing together thousands of passionate users who are ready to share product ideas, answer questions and inspire each other.
The long relationship with Lego is a good example.
By listening to suggestions from its Chaordix-powered “ideas” community, the Danish toy manufacturer of interlocking blocks has developed 28 new kits over the past five years. All were bestsellers, with 90 per cent selling out in their first release, including the recent Friends Central Perk and Women of NASA sets. Its popular Saturn Rocket kit was also suggested by a community member.
Rust-Oleum, a worldwide leader in protective paints and coatings, uses its 10,000 and growing Chaordix community to reach thousands of DIY fans. Having opportunities to talk to its customers continues to help the company identify new product uses and make use of user-generated content to roll out new products, including a new line of glitter paint.
Chaordix has developed communities for many other well-known international brands, including American Airlines, Procter & Gamble, Decathlon and HSBC, and recently added Smart Technologies to its portfolio of clients. The Calgary-based developer of interactive whiteboards wants to build and engage with a global community of thought leaders to help it plan its next steps in creating changes in education.
Sydoryk began his career with Nortel and was COO of Chaordix for four years before accepting the CEO position.
The company currently has 15 people on staff in Calgary and will be developing more teams of software writers. But becoming an investment-worthy company can be challenging, and access to capital is still a major hurdle for young high-tech companies in this province that has such a need to diversify from the boom-and-bust cycle of the energy industry.
• Bow Valley College is meeting evolving labour market needs in Calgary through a greater focus on micro-credentialing. Students can sign up for courses to earn digital credentials, which will help them develop the skills needed to open doors to a growing number of tech jobs on the city. Misheck Mwaba, vice-president academic, says, “The college’s micro-credential and Pivot-Ed initiatives give employees a portfolio of skills and competencies that will help them to pivot in their career and meet the needs of the workforce.” Micro-credentials will provide job candidates with the currency, clout and backing that they need to get a leg up on the competition.
• Doug Driediger of Metrographics has completed his 30-foot-long mural now installed in the Willow Creek Continuing Care Centre at the Claresholm Hospital. It consists of a series of windows with painted scenes of the local landscapes that patients and their families can chat about while walking the long corridor.
David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected].