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Micah Fairchild An Independent Review for Jive's Social Software

3 stars Average rating: 3 (from 137 votes)
 By Micah Fairchild

Vendor Solution Brief: Jive Social Software

Founded in 2001 and based out of Palo Alto, CA, Jive Software is a Social Business Software (SBS) company that is: the fastest growing independent SBS in the world; has just put in a bid for an Initial Public Offering (IPO); and is the arm candy of analysts and investors alike these days. It hasn't always been this way though, as the organization we see today is dramatically different than the circa 2001 Jive that only existed as a specialist company—focusing solely on external customer community hosting. Indeed even cofounders Bill Lynch and Matt Tucker could likely have barely imagined an IPO in their future, when (in 2007), after receiving their first round of venture capital, Jive stepped out of the conservative hosting "comfort zone" and expanded their product line to include enterprise interaction and collaboration capabilities.

This product expansion also expanded Lynch's and Tucker's vision to "Create the first purpose-built, enterprise-class, Social Business Software application suite", and, as the company has grown, the flagship Jive SBS has gone from version 3.0 to version 5.0—adding microblogging, enterprise IM, cloud-based analytics, mobile integration, application development, and other features along the way. These features have in turn been married with acquired capabilities like: a "big data" recommendation engine (from the acquisition of Proximal Labs); a desktop function for seamless Microsoft integration (from the acquisition of OffiSync); and a social media monitoring function (from the acquisition of Filtrbox). Jive software capabilities have been further increased via the numerous strategic partnerships that the company has fostered—including Sungard, Alfresco, Infosys, Rypple, Box, SlideRocket, and more.

Topping the list today on numerous analyst publications, the company is making short work of shoring up the necessary functionality to be the leader in the social technology market. For example,

  • Forrester Wave for Enterprise Social Platforms reports that Jive is the market leader and has the most comprehensive set of collaboration capabilities available.
  • Gartner's Social Software Magic Quadrant for: External Communities, for The Workplace, and for CRM, all put Jive on the leaderboard.

Senior Management
Finance Benchmarks
Acquisitions
  • Tony Zingale, CEO
  • Bryan LeBlanc, CFO
  • Matt Tucker, CTO & Co-founder
  • Bill Lynch, Co-founder
  • $57M in venture funding
  • $34M revenues (as of 07/2011)
  • $84.5M debt (07/2011)
  • $100M IPO filing* (08/2011)
  • Filtrbox – social monitoring company
  • Proximal Labs – identity management & analysis
  • OffiSync – MS Office integration

* The valuation estimate is volatile and no actual date has been set for the IPO

Jive's Target Market for Customers

By the company's own admission, Jive is targeted at the enterprise market. Indeed, SAP has rolled out Jive to 50K employees; HP (Hewlett-Packard) is looking at a 20K employee Jive deployment; and the company has just recently signed on a deal for a 100K employee utilization agreement.

Jive's Social Software Application Purpose

Aside from the comprehensive functionality of the core aspects of networking, micro-blogging, wikis, IM, and structured collaboration; Jive also leverages rich activity streams, "what matters most" functions, message prioritization, and recommendations. Employees can sync up on projects--tapping into a 360-degree view of project stakeholders. Users can view profiles, share information, and locate needed project expertise on-demand, all through a seamless, unified interface.

Jive's Perfect Prospect Profile (PPP)

Jive has roughly 3,000 customers (which represent an employee end-user block of about 15 million) that together create a list that is a veritable "who's who" of the forward-thinking elite. Indeed, between the big names of Nike, Intel, Starbucks, SAP, HP (Hewlett-Packard), and others, the collective social business consciousness is fairly well-represented. Short List Jive if:

  • Your organization is a large independent-minded company looking for a best-of-breed social technology vendor.
  • You need a robust social tech vendor, but lack the IT staff time to deploy a Microsoft or IBM platform solution.

Jive Software Technical Specs
 

Function
Specifications
Deployment
  • Option to deploy in private or public cloud
  • Option to deploy on-premises
  • Option to deploy from organization’s own datacenter
Integration
  • Packaged integration with other enterprise apps such as MS Office, your IM server, Business Objects analytics, and video services.
Connection
  • Jive APIs connect via standards-based REST web services
  • Jive uses ActivityStreams, to syndicate ancillary systems’ social activities
Application Development
  • Jive Apps Developer SDK (based on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) allows for custom builds over the Jive platform
Mobility
  • Jive Mobile offers broad device support and secure proxy technology
  • Jive Mobile uses HTML 5 and CSS 3 to deliver a fast, graphically appealing UX
Security
  • Load balancing, fail over, and disaster recovery are standard
  • Access, authorization, and secure data transfer are handled through SAML 2.0, OpenID, OAuth, and Jive's credential vault
Interface
  • Standards-based consumer technologies
  • Powered by HTML 5 and CSS 3
  • Asynchronous retrieval powered by JavaScript, AJAX, and JQuery
Authorization
  • 2-way model to support traditional LDAP/AD structures, along with loose social structures based on topics, projects, and areas of expertise.
  • Can also use Jive native user management

Jive's Primary Competitors

The social media, social CRM and social HR apps are each a growing and overlapping market. The industry is extremely fragmented with few leaders and plenty of contenders. Primary social software competitors include:

  • Microsoft – Has increased functionality compared to Jive, but Jive's User Experience (UX) is preferred.
  • IBM Connections – Has greater ecosystem and resources than Jive, but solutions are exceedingly complex.
  • Telligent – Has a well-developed partnership community, but is limited by Microsoft architecture.
  • Open Text – Has a large user population, but suffers due to its lack of presence and credibility.
  • Atlassian's Confluence – Is infinitely flexible, but needs to trade some of that flexibility for standards.

Strengths of Jive's Social Software

Jive Software was one of the pioneers in the burgeoning social media space, and with outside funding has been able to carve out its niche and competitive advantages.

  • A major Jive Software strength is that it sells a collaboration platform rather than just an app. This platform can then be customized by the buyer, and then additional modules (e.g. analytics) can be purchased to run on top of that platform.
  • By focusing exclusively on the ways social technology can help in the workplace, Jive is separating itself from the rest of the enterprise vendor pack. This singular mindset allows for agility and flexibility and doesn't mire Jive products down in other competing tasks in the same way that other applications do (e.g. Microsoft SharePoint).
  • The choice in deployment and hosting approach that Jive has taken for its applications works particularly well for those industries that are highly-regulated—allowing for deployment behind the firewall.

Weaknesses of Jive's Social Software
 

  • While Jive is playing well in the enterprise application market so far, the bulk (Gartner estimates up to 80%) of company revenues comes from North America. If Jive is to successfully compete on the global field, a larger presence will be needed off-continent.
  • The company is investing aggressively in a bid to play in a market that has some of the largest technology companies in the world at the top, which means there will likely be many more significant "losses" to come. While most analysts agree that this type of strategy is what is needed for any player at the enterprise level, a lot of money is being placed on this one bet. As admitted by the company in their S-1, if they grew the business more slowly, these concerns would not be nearly as prevalent.
  • Jive Software is a clear—and relatively inexpensive—acquisition target. Customers should not be surprised if a new owner emerges.

Jive-talkin'? What's the Bottom-line for Jive

Much ado has been made of Jive's long-term viability given its debt leveraging and public announcements of lack of profitability for the foreseeable future. It should be noted though that these announcements are fairly standard in the IPO world, and countless companies have had to operate at a loss while consolidating their position (even LinkedIn made a similar statement during their own IPO filing mere months ago). As such, focus should be on the merits of the social software offerings rather than hyped up media sound bites. And judging by Jive's accomplishments to date; the make-up of their offerings; and the leaders at the helm, many expect to see great things from this vendor for quite some time to come. End

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A major strength of the Jive solution is that it sells a collaboration platform rather than just an app. This platform can then be customized by the buyer, and then additional modules (e.g. analytics) can be purchased to run on top of that platform.

 

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