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Summary:

Jive Software today launched what it hopes will become a Facebook-style social networking platform for businesses, complete with an activity stream, an open API and an application store. But whether Jive’s new offering can make social networking more palatable to business users remains to be seen.

Jive Software today launched what it hopes will become a Facebook-style social networking platform for businesses, complete with an activity stream for internal communications, an open API and an open application store. The company also announced that it is licensing the Twitter “firehose” — an index of all 65 million tweets that are posted to the service daily — and will be offering Jive software through the Google Apps marketplace. Jive’s launch is the latest attempt to bring social networking to the enterprise, but this is a market that has so far balked at jumping on board the social bandwagon, and the odds of failure are high.

“Enterprise is the next big opportunity in social networking,” said Christopher Lochhead, the company’s chief strategy officer. “Until now, most of the innovation in that area has been coming on the consumer side. For the most part, the last 10 years or so has been the lost decade for the enterprise, and we want to change that.” According to Lochhead, Jive is “the largest and fastest-growing social business services company” with more than 3,000 customers and a total of over 15 million users of its software platform, which is now called Social Business Software (formerly Clearspace).

Lochhead and Jive Software co-founder Matt Tucker, who is also the company’s chief technology officer, said they want to bring the benefits of social networking — and open standards — to the corporate sector, while still giving companies the control they need to achieve the security and other criteria they require. Launching today at the Enterprise 2.0 conference is a single dashboard-style view of that pulls in whatever relevant information an employee needs to know, Tucker says, whether that comes from Twitter or email or a shared document on the intranet. The company calls this view “Jive What Matters.”

Tucker says the other big initiative is an application marketplace, which will allow developers to create small, lightweight apps that can integrate into Jive’s dashboard, in the same way Google apps can be embedded into a Google custom homepage. Apps could employ features that come from Jive, the co-founder says, but could also use functions from SAP’s software if a company uses that, or other systems that are common in corporate environments. And Jive is building in support for open standards such as OAuth and Google’s OpenSocial as well.

The rationale behind Jive’s new offering seems sounds — anyone who has seen a Facebook wall will recognize the “What Matters” view instantly, and if the company can manage to pull together the various streams of information from Twitter to email to internal document feeds, it might have a shot at actually making some companies more social and more efficient at the same time. But the odds are stacked against it.

Despite the explosion in popularity of social networking tools and services over the past few years, so far no one has really extended this kind of social revolution to the enterprise successfully. The big software companies and enterprise vendors have tried in a variety of ways — including Microsoft with its SharePoint platform, which has wiki-style pages and built-in messaging, and Salesforce.com with a Twitter-style service called Chatter — but so far social networking and the corporate environment seem to be a little like oil and water, never quite blending.

In part, that could be because of corporate standards governing firewalls and security and the need for robust software that can be licensed, installed and maintained by large IT departments — as opposed to the web world of beta software, open standards and an anything-goes kind of approach to social networks and information sharing. Whether Jive’s blend of open APIs, an open app marketplace and installed software can successfully bring these two worlds together remains to be seen.

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  1. vassil Mladjov Sunday, June 13, 2010

    What’s the big deal here guys once again.
    Many companies like ours has had these functionality for a while now.
    But Jive is about to turn on the big PR machine and everyone is starting to cover them.
    If this was so revolutionary everyone should be using social software at work.
    Big new CEO, bit ideas, big VC, big smoke and mirrors again.
    Let’s do one-on-one with other companies and see who has the right software
    At the right price for the right solution guys.
    I am still trying to get Jive to go in a back off even with our open source microblogging, but they don’t want to.
    Charging millions could get them faster to the IPO and they have at least managed to grow fast and steady. Good job on the pr

  2. I agree there have been numerous vendors that have taken a half-baked Wiki, Blog, or other Web 2.0-esque solutions, and tried to sell it as the end-all Enterprise 2.0 solution. Where I see Jive playing a pivotal role in the evolution of the Enterprise is a more user-connected and responsive middle-ware platform option for companies that are ladened with disparate legacy softwares, and needing that central nexus to assemble the systems together in a consumable fashion for the user. It’s almost like the new Portal after JSR-286, with the focus being on the user/consumer of information…rather than the framework/implementation to connect it. Throw Twitter, Facebook, and all other external systems out the door, those systems do not help your employees be more productive at work. Now, if you take traditional Enterprise systems…and make them interact and syndicate information like Twitter and Facebook, then you’ve got something! Systems that can impact revenue … that people can not just use, but use easily! I, for one, am excited about the latest version of SBS that has recently been released, and cannot wait to see where the platform goes over the next few years.

    As for Open Source, I see Open Source playing a major role in knocking down walls and creating standards for all these interactions to take place. I do not feel that it does a good job at taking all the chaos that it creates…(this is meant in a good way)…and channeling it in a standard a directed implementation for everyone to follow. Drupal Commons is definitely making some headway on this, so I’ll be interesting to see how this pans out in the coming months/years.

    1. I agree that open source has the potential to shake things up in the enterprise 2.0 space, Ryan. Should be interesting to watch. Thanks for the comment.

      1. Mathew -

        Well, the open source alternative has arrived (Drupal Commons). We released it last week, and already we’ve seen examples of the things that open source does to shake up proprietary alternatives:

        1) We’ve seen a huge download rate. It won’t take long for the number of downloads to surpass what Jive quotes as a customer base.

        2) We’re already seeing threads start to appear on drupal.org where people are discussing how they want to contribute to extending Drupal Commons’ functionality. Once the Drupal community starts working on Drupal Commons, no proprietary vendor will be able to keep up with the rate of advancement.

        I am the product owner inside Acquia for getting this R1 out. I’d be happy to chat with you about Commons – how it came to be, where we see it being used, and where we think it’ll go. Track down my email from this comment, and drop me a note.

        Cheers
        -jb

  3. Social networking and the enterprise aren’t oil and water, but there are several salient challenges to the adoption of social connectivity software in the business. The lack of perceived business value is one perceived problem, but the current adoption of slower collaboration technologies (such as email, fax, and telephone), lack of in-house expertise, and lack of integration resources are also big factors. Solutions like the new Jive product definitely help with the latter problems as it makes enterprise social networking more modular, easier to use, and interstitial to the corporate workflow.

    But the key isn’t simply having a blogging platform or RSS integrated with the Twitter firehose and internal microblogging. The social media management capabilities that fit into the enterprise IT story, the social media monitoring, proactive recommendations, strategic partner ecosystem, and current market status also make this a more interesting story.

    I think the bigger challenge for Jive is to continue to provide a value-added and integrated product that justifies its pricing model as an enterprise application suite. So far, it’s been working as a scalable and widely-functioning product suite, but we’ll see how the market reacts going forward.

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  5. Steve Ardire Monday, June 14, 2010

    Agree with Ryan that Open Source ( and esp. with Drupal Commons ) will play a major role in knocking down walls and status quo ;)

    Already discussed here
    http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2010/04/drupal-founder-takes-on-jive-s.php

    and here
    http://buytaert.net/drupal-commons-meet-jive-software

    1. Thanks for the links, Steve.

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  7. My experience has been that social media can be inherently valuable as a backchannel for communications within a company. Yammer is an excellent example. Too often internal communications is about pushing a message to the troops so they can evangelize to the field. But there are many other opportunities for cross functional sharing of information that get missed without an open but secure platform for dialog. An answer that might take days to get through normal channels can tke a few minutes in a social network. That said, I think most companies would only pay for the added security.

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