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2 Posts authored by: brian.roddy

I am excited to announce the acquisition of Proximal Labs, a privately-held software company that brings innovative ‘big data’ technology to enterprise social networks. Proximal will help accelerate Jive's existing efforts to use the power of ‘big data’ to unlock the value of the social graph in the enterprise.


Big Data is the set of technologies and practices that deal with diverse, petabyte scale, real-time data sources. These technologies were originally developed at companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook that pioneered recommendation engines to map consumers to the right products and services based on their interests. The same techniques that can target an advertisement to a user, based on their browsing habits, can be used in a workplace, to recommend a co-worker or a customer that has information critical to the work at hand. They can shortcut the social graph and make direct relationships happen quickly.


At Jive we believe that the future of work is personalized, giving people access to the right information and the right people at the right time to get their job done.  We are bringing the best of consumer technology to the enterprise to change the way work gets done, increasing productivity while making work more fun and more personal.


Companies like Facebook have pioneered the social consumer graph. This graph maps the users of Facebook and how they are related to one another. In the enterprise context, there is an even richer graph of people. It includes the organization structure, people who collaborate together, the partner network, the vendor network and the customer network.  All of these people have a common interest in seeing the company succeed. At the individual level, though, it can be very difficult to get connected to the right person you need to reach to get our job done effectively.  Imagine you could find that person when you needed them the most. We believe that by using the power of 'big data,' we're going to make this a reality and personalize work.


But that's not the only way 'big data' can help us get our work done. Today, companies have access to a massive amount of data: from collaboration systems like Jive, from enterprise systems and from the social web. There are so many data sources that you can get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them. This technology can cut through this noise and help direct information to you when you need it.


Once we recognized that the future of work is personalized, we started developing the right expertise to capitalize on it. The Proximal acquisition will helps us accelerate our ability to deliver on this strategy. Proximal's team brings to Jive both scientific grounding in social network analysis and experience building big data systems at production scale. At the core of Proximal’s capabilities is deep expertise in information retrieval, social analytics, and machine learning, with the end goals of making content more relevant and communities more engaging. The Proximal technology will be immediately leveraged in multiple areas of the Jive product, including supercharging our recommender, analytics, search and the Jive Social Media Engagement. This technology is a great complement to the excellent work that these Jive teams have already done, and will enable us to dramatically accelerate our innovation in these areas.


The entire Proximal team will join Jive’s engineering group and will be based in Palo Alto. The team includes a talented group of engineers, scientists and innovators, who have been contributors to notable open source projects, including Apache Hadoop. The team brings an unmatched combination of scientific, industry and academic talent. David Gutelius, Proximal Labs co-founder and CEO, will become Jive’s Chief Social Scientist. In his new role, David will drive the enterprise social graph strategy and overall technology innovation at Jive. You will be hearing from him often!


Proximal is yet another step in our journey to build the next great enterprise software company and change the way we work. And we're not stopping here, so stay tuned for more exciting announcements!!


Brian Roddy

SVP of Engineering

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.

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