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Blake Landau An Initial Look at Jive Software

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By Blake Landau

A Category Leader That is Not Disappearing Anytime Soon

If you haven't heard of Jive Software yet, you might be living under a rock. Jive Software is a pioneering social business software platform that includes social networking, collaboration software, community software, and social media monitoring to extend a layer of social capabilities across the business.

Jive offers almost everything social. So if you imagine a buffet of food, not everyone will eat every dish on the buffet, but some people just like knowing the food is there. Rarely does an organization eat everything at once, but they find comfort in knowing the food is there for later, and the restaurant will definitely be open next year.

Its flagship product is Jive SBS (Social Business Software), formerly known as Clearspace, which combines collaboration software, community software, and social applications. Key user tools and functionality include online communities, microblogging, social networking, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, and IM (instant messaging) all under one unified user interface. Other administrative key features include RSS, email integration, a reputation and reward system for community participation, personal user profiles, JAX-WS web service interoperability, and integration with the Spring framework. The underlying technology is a Java server-side web application which runs on any platform where Java (JDK 1.5 or better) is installed.

Jive is backed by $57 million in venture funding, and its largest investor is Sequoia Capital with a 36.2% stake. As of the end of June 2011, Jive had 635 enterprise customers including some marquee names such as HP, Nike, CSC, SAP, T-Mobile, and UBS. Revenue for the first half of the year was $28.6 million, up 79% from the same period in 2010.

Jive is aggressively burning through that investor cash—investing heavily in its marketing machine with the intent to acquire market share in a seeming green field market. Signs of the company's progress are no more apparent than with the just filed $100 million IPO registration. It's now no secret that Jive has posted a loss every year, for the last five years. And with business costs rising, Jive does not expect to be profitable for "the foreseeable future." And as stated in the IPO registration, Jive Software "has a limited operating history, and a history of cumulative losses"—the company's growth is clearly dependent upon the widespread adoption of social business software.

Jive Software is an industry leader in many ways. They are turning heads and paving a way for the entire social software industry, but no tool is perfect. Let's take a look at some pros and cons of Jive Software's platform.

Jive Software Pros:

  • Jive has vision and that vision can be clearly communicated to both the business and IT sides of the company. In fact it appears that many customers leverage Jive as part of their own internal social vision and strategy. They depend on Jive to back up their vision with technology, and they are applauded for their stability and appeal to security conscious institutions like banks by permitting the option of deploying inside the firewall.
  • Jive appeals to a large, diverse, global audience and answers a wide variety of internal requirements. They have an impressive social apps market that promotes extensibility and is getting a lot of attention.
  • Jive has a highly-intuitive user interface and can be easily integrated with other enterprise applications.
  • And from a business management perspective, Jive Software has a strong leadership team headed by CEO Tony Zingale who is confidently leading the company in the right direction.

Jive Software Cons:

  • While some might see the expansive Jive offering as assurance for growth and future capabilities, others seem to find it intimidating. They just feel they don't need such a robust tool. Some also mention that Jive takes a very long time to implement. It is said that this is often due to management and culture issues, but others disagree and suggest that the technology implementation itself is what takes the time. Significant customization and integration has been challenging for some.
  • Like a lot of other social tools, without the right organizational structure and roles supporting and managing the tool, it just won't work. End users may find themselves scratching their noggins regarding the promise of such a solution versus the cost and "complexity" of the tool.
  • Some customers complain usability is not up to par—and doesn't yet achieve the user experience of well known consumer applications. Many are anticipating the reporting and analytics improvements currently in development at Jive.

A lot of these collaboration tools have similar capabilities, but Jive Software appears to be one of the most competitive providers. The company has been named an Enterprise Social Platform leader by Forrester Research and positioned in the all mighty upper right corner of Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Social CRM.

But it's not just its impressive marketing machine that is giving Jive Software its lucky strike. Jive is a strong learning-based organization, providing extensive training, and has a strong customer support staff with an additional band of brand ambassadors who feel strongly about the product, and are willing to go to bat with their vendor.

You have to wonder if the vocal customer support for Jive is not only about the quality of the product but also the way Jive's SBS product impacted the change to their work-life.

Social media and social CRM tools are clearly in the limelight and many eyes are watching Jive closely. From their industry-first social business software introductions and progress to date, Jive is both a trailblazer in the social business space and a company worth watching for continued innovation and market successes. End

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Comments (9) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Zach Kirk
  Jive got its start and is a clear leader for internal social networks to keep companies well communicated. However, while a notable goal, its a tough objective. A Forrester research survey I read shared that only 28% of workers use any social software at least monthly for work purposes. And from my experiences it seems a lot of these internal social networks start off with big fanfare and then erode to a slow death as staff don't have the time or interest to participate. The value is clear but getting and maintaining active participation from staff is the challenge.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    You bring up a significant obstacle, but one that can be mitigated if planned for. If staff perceive the internal social network to be just another place they have to visit to get particular information, or a place where the information is not personally relevant to their needs, they will fail to adopt or embrace the system and the system will fail to meet expectations. From my experience, the two factors that most correlate to failed internal social networks are 1) they are not easy to use and 2) they do not personally benefit the participant. Ease of use is key, and as consumer technologies and public social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have achieved broad familiarity, companies can benefit by applying lessons learned and replicating key features of these social channels. Similarly, to achieve adoption and sustained success, the internal social network must become a better alternative to processes than are already available. The utility of the social network is far more influential to user adoption than company or peer pressure.
  Guest Winston Gray
    Great points. Another cause for failure I have seen is a lack of fresh content. If content is not continuously updated, staff participation may start off strong, but will then wane.
  Guest Denise Johnson
    Factors which we have found critical in gaining social network user adoption included single sign on (very important!), email integration (with capability to respond to a post or comment from an email and have it show up in the discussion string), simple but strong search capability, live meetings, instant messaging, user defined folksonomies for custom tagging, file sharing, user defined alert notifications which act as event triggers to bring staff into the application and the ability to both like and follow (subscribe to) specific people and content topics.
  Guest Winston Gray
    We also found that user adoption went way up when exectives stopped sending emails and instead delivered their messaging in the social network.

Guest LoganB
  What are other popular company social networks besides Jive?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Microsoft Sharepoint is the most popular internal social network application, followed by a slew of alternatives which include direct competitors to Jive such as Lithium and many indirect competitors such as Yammer, Salesforce.com's Chatter and even Google Sites.

Guest Rich Reader
  How well does Jive play in the SMB sector?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    By the company's own positioning, Jive targets the enterprise market. SAP has rolled out Jive to 50K employees, HP is looking at a 20K employee deployment and Jive recently signed a deal for a 100K employee agreement. Nonetheless, while pricing can be steep relative to SMB budgets, the company does possess SMB customers.
 

 

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Jive is a strong learning-based organization, providing extensive training, and has a strong customer support staff with an additional band of brand ambassadors who feel strongly about the product, and are willing to go to bat with their vendor."

 

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