Edmonton’s Omni Technology Solutions brings CRM integration to the world

Last year, local software company Omni Technology Solutions celebrated its 10th birthday. They’ve had some incredible success during that time, and are well-positioned for future growth. With a focus on customer relationship management integration solutions, they’re probably not a company that you’ve heard of, unless you happen to be a customer. While almost all the leading CRMs are headquartered in Silicon Valley, it’s interesting to know that the number one CRM integration platform is developed here in Edmonton! That’s why I reached out to Trevor Poapst, Omni’s Director of Global Marketing, to learn more.

Their core offering, Riva, overcomes the limitations of Outlook CRM plug-ins that need to be installed, configured and managed on each user’s desktop, laptop and mobile device. Instead, Riva gets installed once on a server and transparently syncs CRM address book, calendar, sales and support data to all Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise email clients. Riva is compatible with the very popular Salesforce, SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM, SageCRM, Saleslogix and several other leading CRM systems. What’s unique about Riva is that the synchronization all happens server-side, so there are no Outlook plug-ins required.

The company’s second product is called eControl, and it satisfies the need for a simpler, web-based alternative to the native management tools for Microsoft Active Directory, Exchange, Novell GroupWise, eDirectory, SAP and other systems. Though eControl has been designed to be simple enough for non-technical users to use, it is still very powerful, and features full auditing, enhancing compliance with SOX and other regulations. Omni’s customers have used eControl to manage anywhere from 500 to 50,000 user accounts, and a typical deployment takes less than 3 hours.

You’ll notice that both solutions work with Novell’s products, which is really where Omni got started. They’re one of the top three GroupWise developers in the world, and have benefited greatly from participating in the Novell ecosystem. Being focused on Novell hasn’t been without challenges, however. The first was the size of the market. There are far fewer Novell customers than Microsoft customers. In the last year or two however, Omni has successfully expanded into the Microsoft marketplace, and is working hard to continue to grow in that area.

The second challenge is one that Omni continues to deal with. Though the company has always been based here in Edmonton, very few of its customers have been in Canada because GroupWise has traditionally had a stronger following elsewhere. Winning global sales hasn’t been easy. In addition to working with partners, Omni has started to open offices abroad. Offices in Chile and Munich opened late last year, and the company recently closed its first major eControl deal in Chile as a result.

Though reaching the global market is challenging as an Alberta-based company, Trevor wouldn’t have it any other way. The company has received lots of support from the provincial government, and has benefited from having access to a highly trained workforce and relatively low business costs. Trevor also mentioned that Alberta is a great place to raise a family, in part because you don’t have to commute several hours every day. In fact, Omni’s CEO and CTO both bike to work year-round, even in the snow!

Omni just launched version 3.5 of eControl (education customers can save 70% until August 31), as well as its new Riva website. The company is planning its second annual eControl conference in Santiago, Chile. Omni is poised for growth and is looking to expand its partner network, especially now that it can tap into the large Microsoft and CRM partner communities.

It was great talking to Trevor (who is actually working from Mexico this year), and learning more about a successful Edmonton-based software company making significant inroads into the global CRM and identity management markets. I think it’s a fantastic example of the success that companies based here can have, and I wish Omni all the best as they continue to grow. You can follow Omni on Facebook and on Twitter.

  • Great profile, Mack, and Omni is precisely the kind of firm that deserves celebration.

    During my time at Matrikon (1996-2002), the bulk of our business was coming in from the US and abroad, and relatively little was happening in Canada despite all of the oil & gas and manufacturing activity. There seemed to be a pervasive “built here? can’t be good!” attitude amongst the generation of decision makers that we were dealing with. It was frustrating and discouraging, and it was almost easier to pretend to be an American firm to win local business.

    As you’ve indicated in recent posts, however, there is a generation of influential decision makers emerging that — at the very least, seem equipped to make agnostic rational choices — and in the best case, understand the benefits of supporting a local tech and business ecosystem.

    Part of the problem, too, may be that it can be more comfortable to promote and market yourself outside of your own territory. Our own personal/perceived boundaries become more pronounced when we’re in a familiar midst and I know I’m personally less willing to experiment and try novel ideas in these situations.

    Sharing our stories, as you’ve done here Mack, brings visibility to our shared experiences and enables a degree of discussion and collaboration that might otherwise be lost in isolation. And who knows, the folks standing in front of you in the line at, say, Elm Cafe might be facing the very same challenges that you just broke through!

    Chris .\\

  • Thanks Chris, I appreciate it 🙂