Skip navigation

Two days ago, Jive CEO Tony  Zingale spoke at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara. His main  message to the audience was that Facebook, while a great social platform  that changed how we interact in our personal lives, is not the right social *business* strategy.  This is a topic of huge importance to me,  as my mission as head of engineering at Jive is to translate and apply consumer space innovation to change the way work gets done.


I  think everyone agrees that a critical key to Facebook's success is their application platform. By exposing the social graph to developers,  Facebook has enabled applications and games that are truly engaging and  collaborative in new ways. And with access to the activity stream,  applications are given a powerful viral marketing mechanism that  radically lowers the cost of adoption. In addition, Facebook has ridden  the wave of radically reduced cost models for software hosting and Web 2.0 user experience by leveraging the web standards and innovations in  the cloud such as Amazon Web Services and Google App Engine.


The  net result is that a few developers in a garage now can deliver and  scale a major hosted software application with bare minimum CapEx,  marketing or sales.  Zynga is the perfect case study for masterfully  using all of these principles to create success. This new model (along  with a remarkably similar model for iPhone) has caused a massive wave of  innovation in the consumer software marketplace.


Contrast  this with the current state of the enterprise market. It's a world of  boring software, little innovation and a huge barriers to entry. The  sheer cost of building an enterprise sales force that can compete  against the likes of IBM, HP and Oracle stops most startups in their  tracks. VCs have looked at these high start-up costs and risky returns,  and have redirected most of their dollars to  consumer-oriented  startups. This has gone on for so long that enterprise software feels a  decade behind the current models.


It's  tempting to say that all enterprise technology vendors need to do is  bolt on a new "Facebook for the enterprise" offering to make them  current. But this ignores the challenges that enterprises face: huge  challenges like security, governance, application integration and  privacy. And it ignores that these solutions need to scale beyond small  work groups to cut across a company's entire ecosystem, including  employees, customers, partners, vendors and the social web.  But most  of all, it ignores the fact that the way people are doing work is  changing and they need new, fundamentally different tools to support  them.


This  is why Jive has invested so much in its software development and stayed  2-3 years ahead of the market. Taking concepts like the activity  stream, microblogging, groups and sharing, we've mapped them to the  challenges of the modern corporation.  We've taken the most popular  aspects of consumer social networking and combined them with traditional  enterprise collaboration and controls to make a powerful tool to get  work done. We've embraced the fact that people have been training  themselves at home to scan through activity streams quickly as way to  get information about their friends and turned that into an efficient  way to get information about their business. We've taken techniques that  were designed to target ads and converted them to target expertise  location and content dissemination.  This gets the right information to  the right people at the right time. But there's much more then this left  to do.


What  we still see missing is the ability to ignite the next wave of  innovation in the enterprise category. It needs to be just as easy for a  few developers in their garage to create, host, distribute and market  new enterprise software as has been done for consumers. These  applications need to be designed around the very different enterprise  requirements.


Jive Application Framework and  Jive Apps Market,  to be launched in early 2011, are designed to do this. With these  offerings, Jive will be able to create new classes of enterprise  software with new levels of interactivity, as it will give developers  access to our enterprise social graph, our activity stream and our  collaboration tools. Developers will have an easy and powerful sales and  marketing distribution engine that will remove the need for complex  contractual negotiations and licensing.  They will be able to do this  with the most current and innovative technologies out there by  piggybacking on the work of cloud development and OpenSocial standards.


Jive Apps are designed to meet the needs of IT, who will be able to control the  distribution, content and licensing of the applications deployed. SaaS  based services can be funneled through Jive to both augment them with  social features as well as give IT control over the distribution and  monitoring of these systems. Jive Apps will also empower IT departments  to develop applications to unlock the power of the data and  functionality trapped in their enterprise systems. This means companies  can create powerful competitive advantages by taking their proprietary  processes and data and combining them with the benefits of collaboration  and the social graph. We believe this model will create tremendous  innovation both from within and from outside corporations to spur a  major wave of productivity. Just think of taking the latest service  oriented architectures within enterprises and putting their data and  transactionality directly in the hands of collaborating employees. It  will unlock the next huge wave of value from the existing investment in  enterprise system.


Essentially,  Jive has taken the best of social networking, mapped it to enterprise  requirements of getting work done and created single platform that cuts  across the entire new way work gets done. It enables customers to help  one another, facilitates massive improvements in employee productivity  and provides and a platform to create the next generation of enterprise  software.


In  closing I'll borrow a slide from Tony's keynote, which quotes Facebook  CEO Mark Zuckerberg: "We’re going to see that the applications built  from the ground up to be social will have a fundamental advantage over  applications that slap it on top, check the box, and think they can move  on from there." Here in the Jive engineering department, we love  building that software.

Last week Bob Evans at InformationWeek caused a stir by publishing a list of the Top 20 Most Influential Tech Vendors.  While the list included the usual suspects, such as Google, IBM, EMC, VMware, etc., there were also a few surprises.  The big surprise was that Microsoft came in at number #11.  The second (pleasant) surprise is that Jive Software was number #13, only two vendors away from Microsoft.


You might wonder, why is Microsoft ranked so low, and what has pushed a small, start-up vendor such as Jive to join these titans as the #13 most influential technology vendor in the world?


Bob Evans is spot on in his intro to the article: “I'm proposing to include some surprises because some IT vendors from outside the traditional enterprise bubble have come crashing in with unconventional ideas that have jarred conventional thinking and approaches.”


When you really get down to it, the fact that Microsoft is hurtling towards the bottom of that list is really not a surprise.  It’s indicative of a seismic shift happening in enterprise software today, as companies are revolting against a decade of lost innovation and productivity. The steep adoption of the iPad, the rise of mobile, the migration to cloud computing and virtualization are dramatically driving down the use of PCs along with Microsoft’s relevance in the enterprise.  Microsoft's consistent failure to innovate has finally caught up with them.


The fact that an up and coming vendor such as Jive was on the list might be surprising but is a consequence of a second, related shift happening in the enterprise: the rise of social. The adoption of social in our consumer lives is a no brainer.  In the last few months alone, Facebook has reached 500 million users, Twitter has surpassed its 15 billionth tweet, and LinkedIn has topped 80 million users.  What’s more interesting is that social is finally taking over the enterprise, as companies are looking to get meaningful breakthroughs in revenue, cost cutting and innovation.  Gartner recently released their Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011, with Social Communications and Collaboration at the top of the list. Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications.


After a decade of IT malaise in which the biggest innovations came in infrastructure, we are about to see a monumental shift in the way the enterprise uses social software to get business done.


Social Business is the new way to business. I’m not just talking about using Facebook fan pages, or having a Twitter account. I’m talking about fundamentally rethinking the way you engage with employees, customers, partners and suppliers.


Let’s give this a little context. In five years:

  • Will the flow of information in your company be less restricted and siloed?
  • Will the software we provide employees be more engaging?
  • Will employees use email less?
  • Will the org structure be less hierarchical?
  • Will employees be more mobile?
  • Will more of our new ideas come from outside company?
  • Will we have stronger relationships with our customers?
  • Will we rely less on call centers?


To remain competitive, YES is the only answer to these questions. Each of these highlights the seismic shifts happening now that I described above.


As technology has become pervasive in our personal lives, we’ve learned that sharing information doesn’t require Word documents and endless email. We’ve learned that it can actually be enjoyable to use software. We’ve come to expect that we can find the right person at the right time and that interesting information will find us. We’ve come to believe that companies will treat us as individuals, not manage us. Finally, we’ve come to expect information real-time from multiple sources, including our peers. And we have a megaphone to use if we are not happy.


You’ve got a choice. You can pretend this isn’t happening. OR you can use social business smartly for material competitive advantage.


Adopting social business will likely be the single most important business decision you make this decade. To quote John Doerr, at the recent launch of the Kleiner Perkins sFund, ‘"If you don't have a social strategy, you'd better go get one."

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: