Startup service targets electronic workplace compliance, training

Startup Convercent officially debuted today with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that lets employers make available to employees in electronic form, via computer or mobile device, the workplace ethics and compliance terms the business supports.

But as an interactive service, Convercent is more than that -- it can be a platform for training, for videos to employees, for arranging volunteer activities the company advocates, and if a workplace violation is reported via the service, it's a platform for compiling the kind of documentation that might otherwise be kept in paper form and shared with appropriate business managers, until a workplace issue is resolved.

"For the new employee, it's usable as a compliance document," says Patrick Quinlan, co-founder and CEO of Convercent with co-founders Philip Winterburn, CIO, and Barclay Friesen. "You sign off after you're done. But it can also be used for training or policy compliance."

[ 12 Must-Watch Security Startups for 2013 ]

The Denver-based firm today also announced $10.2 million in funding led by Azure Capital Partners, Mantucket Capital and City National Bank.

Some businesses say they are testing the Convercent service with an eye toward using it for ensuring employees read and indicate they understand workplace ethics rules and other corporate regulations.

As a beta site, Methode Electronics, which has 1,400 employees in more than a dozen different countries, is looking at it to possibly replace a current electronic compliance handbook system, says Mike Benetti, chief compliance officer and internal auditor there.

Until now, Methode Electronics has used a somewhat similar type of SaaS-based compliance handbook in its interactions with employees, but the electronics firm still ends up generating files that end up being printed out as reports. Benetti says he's intrigued by the case-management aspect of Convercent, which appears to have a way to track and manage any reported employee-compliance incidents by letting authorized personnel have access to electronically stored files. He said he doesn't envision auditing issues in a SaaS storing and collecting this type of information.

The Convercent service is said to handle more than 50 languages, making use of the Bing translation mechanism for some of this. Benetti says this might also be convenient for his company but he's still examining how effective and accurate it may be.

Convercent indicates that the baseline pricing for the service would typically run about $15,000 per year for between 500 to 1,000 end users.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email:

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