Vendor profile: Ambix
The Intranetizen team are often asked advice about intranet vendors that supply software and hardware solutions to run your intranet. Whilst we have 44 years of blue-chip intranet experience between us, in common with many intranet practitioners, we have relatively limited experience of the 200+ software systems that companies use.
To help you, to help us and to help the vendors themselves, we run a series of posts showcasing intranet companies. We don’t ask for any payment to feature them and we aim to include any relevant platform that is willing to openly respond to our questions.
We’ve supplied them with the same standard set of questions and will publish their answers in their own words to ensure equity! All the images have been supplied by the company themselves and are reproduced with permission.
Today, we showcase Ambix
In a brief paragraph, who are you?
We are Ambix – a small, tight-knit team of developers, designers and business professionals based in the North East of England. The business was founded in 2012 and our platform went through several test phases with local business groups. In 2015 we took Ambix to SXSW as the only UK finalist in the HATCH Pitch contest. Our latest version of Ambix now has users across the UK and we hope to launch our first US systems later this year.
Briefly describe your product’s history? Why did you start it, where does it come from?
Ambix started out as a tool for clubs and societies in a university setting, then quickly adapted to the needs of business and other not-for-profit networks. It has always been a private social tool, designed to be simple and intuitive in order to engage the widest possible spectrum of digital skills and demographics. Once the first community had adopted Ambix, more clients came forward looking for a system that sat in the niche between classic workplace intranets and open social media. Features were developed in response to user feedback, giving us the rounded communication platform we now have.
Describe your typical customer – what kind of company, what size, what are the kinds of problems they need to solve?
Regardless of organisation size or sector, our typical customer has a clear problem to solve: how to manage and support an associate community. This is the group which adds value but is not part of the corporate core. It includes volunteers, brand advocates, branch committee members, franchisees, games beta testers, collaborating businesses in a supply chain, conference attendees… the examples are endless. All have one thing in common: they can’t be part of the workplace intranet (for many reasons) but they need support from the core and from their peers. Ambix facilitates this, and retains their value in the business.
What do you see as your product and company’s USP?
We are a small, agile team so we can react quickly to feedback. We are entirely UK based, so UK clients can be sure where their data resides. The Ambix UI has drawn huge praise for its simplicity and smoothness; by focusing on associate communities, we’ve eliminated a lot of workplace noise.
Societies, which allows users to cluster round common interests, and Events and Incidents, which are real-time reporting and planning tools, are the most used. All three allow a knowledgebase of discussions and rich media to build up, and the mapping tools of Events & incident reporting are excellent. We have a client who has mapped and annotated over 8,000 incidents for his users and is getting rave reviews! We also have great feedback on the collaboration and survey feature, Consensus.
Which feature(s) of your product do you feel are most under-used?
Exchange, which allows the community to highlight exclusive opportunities for fellow members, has not yet reached its full potential. Often the collaborations start to happen in group or event discussions, bypassing the need to advertise.
How much customisation does your product typically need / how much to you recommend your customers make?
As a SaaS product, there is no customisation other than simple branding. However, we can spot different Ambix setups a mile off, as the content and flow of activity is unique to each tenant. We work with customers to develop a structure for the community and decide how best to manage different lines of communication and group dynamics using the available features. We also help to train the early adopters and advocates so that the community management workload is spread.
What advice would you give a company planning to invest in a new intranet platform? / what are the most important factors to consider?
1. What are the business goals which underpin creation of your new community?
2. Do you know your members’ goals for becoming involved in the community?
3. How will you engage them and shift their behaviour towards using Ambix, in order to achieve both your and their goals?
What’s your cost model? Free; one-off; per seat per month charging; something else?
Per user, Fixed price – unlimited use – annual / monthly, Charitable donation for tiny groups
What are the hosting options?
- Slack – for communities whose activity is far more project based.
- Facebook and other social media – where all community members are happy on one platform, and privacy is not a concern.
- Yammer / Chatter / Socious / Igloo / Sharepoint etc where these are cascaded to associates. However, we often find customers prefer core and associate communities to be separate.
What do you need from *your* customers to deliver intranet success?
- A clear idea of what constitutes a community – a mailing list is not a community!
- Budget and buy-in to support, manage and grow the community.
What does the future have in store for your product?
We’re continually seeking feedback from our users to improve Ambix features and overall user engagement. We are also developing partnerships where Ambix could enhance the experience of users of other software. It’s an exciting time for us!
What does intranet 2017 look like?
People will start to understand the long-term value of community and make the investment using behavioural and cultural measures as well as raw figures. The importance of good community managers steering the development will also become clearer.
Who should Intranetizen readers speak with to find out more about your product?
Call us at the Ambix office +44 (0)1642 796174, visit our website www.ambix.io, find us on the usual social media, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What question should we have asked? And if we had, what would the answer have been?
What sector is in most need of an intranet like Ambix? We’re starting to do a lot of work in the voluntary sector. Volunteers have a huge influence across all areas of our lives, and they deserve top class support. Using a digital community solution like Ambix can help to retain great volunteers and improve sustainability.