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Jive Acquires Filtrbox; Reaches Record Revenue in 2009
The social business software provider buys a social media monitoring company and plans to extend social insight across the entire enterprise.
Posted Jan 15, 2010
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Social media isn't going away and companies are struggling to find ways for the technology to deliver actionable, quantifiable results. With this acquisition, in which financial details were not disclosed, Jive will integrate the Filtrbox technology into its Jive Market Engagement solution in order to go beyond what the company says is "simply listening," to derive value from the "real-time Web." According to analysts, this move fortifies a market trend toward applying analytics to make sense of social data. The company also revealed shortly after the acquisition announcement that it was cash flow positive in 2009 and increased its revenue by 85 percent over 2008, marking it the most successful year in the company's history.

For a company just under two years old, Filtrbox brings to Jive 200 customers, including well-known names such as Dairy Queen, Kohler, and Morningstar. The company will continue to offer its Filtrbox G2 application as a standalone product.

When Jive released its new Market Engagement Solution in September 2009, the company had partnered with social media monitoring provider Radian6 to combine SMM with its own SBS technology, but soon realized growth required more than a partnership (Read more about Jive's New Social Media Release Powered By Radian6). The problem of incorporating social media into business processes across the enterprise, explains Ben Kiker, chief marketing officer of Jive, was becoming "so great," prompting the company to make the strategic decision to "own this technology." The four-month quest for a suitable candidate led the company to Colorado-based Filtrbox

Few companies are actively embracing social media today, and those that are, rely primarily on tools such as Google Alerts, which, if passed alone, typically travel through email exchanges. "Email is not a collaborative tool," Kiker says. Companies want to tap into the social Web, but oftentimes, companies designate the task to just a handful of key power users or marketing analysts that are locked in a room, siloed off from the rest of the enterprise. "We believe that is fundamentally a flawed model," Kiker says.

Not too long ago, being able to listening to the social Web was a capability companies were clamoring. Now, that's quickly becoming insufficient. "Listening is always the first step," says Ari Newman, Founder and President of Filtrbox, "but you very quickly have to start thinking about your social media practice, how you're going to engage. It can't just be one or two people. There's so much going on across the Web that it has to be adopted by the whole organization." He relates the introduction of social media into the enterprise to that of the early days of email: The success of any new platform has to be adopted by everyone in the organization-it can't be stuck on the shoulders of one person to field all the incoming messages.

According to Newman, joining forces with Jive will allow the entire organization to become participants in the social economy. Information will be entering from all over the Web such that various departments can analyze the same content, but access the application through distinct log-ins. In that sense, they can take action on the content collaboratively, while ensuring that the work is not repeated and the data not duplicated. As they work from the same content source, each department can take action in different, mission-critical ways, for example:

  • customer service can listen for customer complaints, product packaging issues, and product availability; and
  • product management can look for marketing ideas, market research on what consumers like or don't like.

"What's pivotal about us joining forces with Jive," Newman says, "is it's going to truly enable the entire organization to become participants in the social economy."

In a company press release, Jive delineates its vision going forward with expectations of:

  • new applications that will use social intelligence to fuel the internal decision support process;
  • insight to aid in the development of business initiatives, product innovation, and go-to-market strategies;
  • engage with customers and improve the customer experience.

"We're starting to see the convergence of business process and social analytics," says Suresh Vittal, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Most companies, he says, did not have process management capabilities which this acquisition now brings to the table. Fundamentally, the combined solution will allow businesses to connect with its consumers through social communities. "What we've seen in terms of analytics has been in the standalone space," he says, citing companies like Filtrbox, Radian6, and Visibile Technologies, that allow marketers to track conversations in the socialsphere. "Now, what you're starting to see is this melding of business process and engagement applications," he says, which will enable businesses to glean insight they can act upon. As companies continue to become more sophisticated in tying social media into their systems, Vittal anticipates the following trends will take place:

  • stronger tie in between business process application and analytics;
  • tighter tie in between analytics and adjacent systems like CRM and marketing automation; and
  • deeper convergence between social business software and Web content management applications; and because of that, market research will come online in a big way.

Pricing and packaging will be worked out over the course of the next few weeks and months. Both Jive adn Filtrbox's point to their similarities in terms of offering an on-demand business model and an integrated solution that aims to be easy to use and doesn't require extensive training, regardless of who is using it. "We recognize [the importance of] having a very straightforward, no-manual-required user interface," Kiker says. Going forward, he encourages observers to watch this space intently as social media is certain to become pervasive across the enterprise.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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