Jive Jumps Forward with SBS 4.0

October was a big month for social software company Jive. Not only did the vendor host its first-ever user conference called JiveWorld, but it announced it had been granded a hefty round of funding, as well. Add on top of that several product announcements, one in which a Jive executive called Jive's most significant release to date. 

Toward the end of October and a few days short of JiveWorld, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital granted Jive Software with $12 million in series B funding. "The bulk will be funneled into product development," says Chris Morace, Jive's vice president of product. "We have a lot of innovation in the road map." He also says that some of the funding will be invested in the partner channels.

At JiveWorld, the company made announcements surrounding Jive Social Business Software 4.0, Jive Mobile, and Jive Bridging capabilities. "We are building out from the core to be social for business," Morace says. "The [SBS 4.0] release its our most innovative and will put Jive in the hands of more users than ever before." Brad Shimmin, an analyst covering collaboration technologies with Current Analysis, says that in looking at all of the news from Jive what stands out the most is the company's dedication toward a unified user interface and a cohesive social product. 

Microsoft SharePoint Integration:

A few weeks ago, Jive introduced new capabilities to unite authoring and content activities with Microsoft SharePoint. Morace says the goal is to position Jive as a social layer of wherever content lives. Shimmin says its a smart and interesting move. "Most would say, 'We will find a way to do away with SharePoint,'" he says, "[Jive] really turned away from that and said what we are really out here to do is to bring a unifying environment that's capable of riding on top of investments like SharePoint." Essentially SharePoint content can be brought into Jive and also users can tap into SharePoint's strengths in document management, workflow, and project management and embed Jive into SharePoint. Also with SharePoint lists, user can embed such lists into any Jive application. 

Social Business Software 4.0:

"We want to be social for business," Morace says. That intention involves expanding Jive's offerings throughout the enterprise and uniting activities that occur externally and internally. With SBS 4.0, Jive made some functional improvements to its social networking and collaboration tools. It also worked on scalability, security, and privacy requirements. SBS 4.0 includes the following capabilities:

  • Jive Connects with Office- The Microsoft Office Connector for Jive allows users to work on Microsoft Office content within Jive -- or vice versa. When users work on Office content, its published to Jive and then can be worked on within the Jive browser. This capability represents Jive's willingness to embrace where people primarily work, Morace says. Shimmin says with the co-authoring capabilities -- similar to those available with Google Apps -- Jive has beaten Microsoft to the punch. The only downside Shimmin says is that it doesn't use Microsoft's native authoring tools. Basically the editing is done on top of Microsoft. What's cool is the consistency, Shimmin says. All of the changes made and every bit of activity is tracked into the platform's activity stream. "It's unique in that any post you pull in to SBS through this module, the consistency is applied," Shimmin says. "You've got all of the Jive capabilities applied to content."
  • Jive Mobile for iPhone- "One problem with Web applications is that its gotten better, but the actual experience was lacking," Morace says. "It's not bad for simplistic interfaces, but you could not get same experience." With its launch of a native application, users can work the same way the would on a desktop with Jive on their iPhones.  Jive already did BlackBerry well, Shimmin says. This time around, Jive is launching an iPhone application that allows user to do everything they would do in a Web UI but to take advantage of some of the native iPhone applications such as geolocation. For example, if you update your status -- it will use geolocation to Identify your coordinates, so, colleagues can see not only what you are doing, but where you are. "It's very nicely integrated," Shimmin says. 

"You have the entire enterprise in your pocket," says  Cameron Deatsch, the product marketing manager for Jive SBS 4.0. Shimmin has one point of contention: "[Jive has] done a great job of bringing in the iPhone but haven't supported the Mac OS platform," he points out. It's interesting especially given that Jive is a Mac shop, the analyst says.

  • Bridging Capabilities- "One of the things we found in terms of building communities for customers and communities for employees, is that employees are super busy," Morace says. Oftentimes only a handful of employees monitor and are truly engaged with such customer communities. Opportunities are missed in terms of bringing employees into the customer conversation, but also in alerting members of the organization about what customers are saying. 

So, Jive is bridging internal and external communities in order to tap into employee resources for external customer needs and to unite departmental silos. For example, if a customer has a support question a service agent can do a quick search of the employee forum for keywords on the issue. Then she can quickly bring in pieces of conversation into the customer community. She can bring in multiple responses or even the whole thread. Essentially any Jive user can make use of any conversation occurring in the Jive platform. Jive Bridging also allows for a centralized view of activity on public communities. IN fact, users can create personalized homepage and choose to follow specific people or choose to see specific content. Jive Bridging is available as an add-on module to SBS 4.0.

Shimmin praises Jive's social networking capabilities: "Right now [Jive is] ahead of Microsoft by leaps and bounds in terms of providing things like social networking," Shimmin says. He adds that IBM, another competitor in the collaborative social space, has to its advantage the ability to tie its collaboration tools into other specific use case solutions -- which can prove very powerful. Gartner Research recently named Jive - alongside Microsoft and IBM - a Leader in its 2009 Magic Quadrant for Social Business Software. Up until this year, Gartner has left the leader quadrant blank, saying the space was too immature to identify the market leaders.

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.

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