Jive Software held its fifth annual user conference, JiveWorld13, on 22-24 October in Las Vegas. Since its inception in 2001, Jive Software has grown to more than 700 FTEs and, over the past two years, has pushed $200 million of investment into both the core Jive platform (primarily aligning the on-premises code base with the cloud solution) and the customer success organization. Jive 7, the latest product release announced at JiveWorld13 consolidates much of the platform updates and upgrades as well as integration of acquisitions Meetings.io, Producteev, StreamOnce, and Resonata. Jive 7 contains a large swag of features, a clear indication that the increased head count in the engineering team has made a significant impact to the detail and cadence of releases. However with all these new features, there is still a fundamental question about the future of the Jive business as they focus on customer adoption, growing the current installed base and helping those customers transition to the Jive cloud solution.
As Jive Software and its clients transform themselves, many will be managing hybrid environments. They will need to pay attention to business metrics that they have focused on in the past, as well as new operational metrics. Prior to the event, IDC spoke with Jive's customer Nuance Communications, who discussed their upgrade from on-premises to cloud as well as provided detailed metrics for measuring business outcomes and ongoing user productivity. According to Nuance, the need for external access was the driver for cloud solution as well as the ability to uniformly track content creation and how users make a decision.
There is an ongoing need for organizations to provide streamlined access to personal productivity tools (primarily mobile) that are being used to support business activities and processes. Many organizations have a rigid set of enterprise applications and supporting tools that aren't adequate for enabling users to collaborate in a streamlined way. Often times, they restrict use to a dedicated platform, don't allow intelligent filtering of information, and aren't connected to any business processes. Many of these traditional tools have been adequate in the past, but for businesses to continue to remain agile and for manual work to decrease, business operations now need to support and survive by these tools.
Jive Software is keenly focused on use cases, recognizing that several forms of social capabilities can be present in organizations and business units and that the needs of these business units are very different. One use case that has broad and horizontal needs is customer communities. As online interactions and experiences herald dramatic changes in business models, companies are trying to adapt by injecting speed and agility into their systems and processes, including connecting disparate systems and connecting the enterprise social network to existing business processes. Common enterprise social network use cases are poorly suited to servicing external collaborators from within the tool, so customer communities become essential.
Customer success and professional services play a key role in Jives' focus particularly as the company aims to transition existing customers to upgrade to the cloud solution. Bob Block, VP of customer success, noted that his team will continue to support customers but play a more active role in facilitating the ongoing metrics associated with the health of a community. The other side of maintaining community health is facilitating a streamlined solution. Historically, Jive customers have heavily customized their solutions, engaging internal IT departments as well as Jive Software and other professional service providers to do so. While a key tenet of Jive Software's value proposition is the ability to customize, it makes sense to see the professional services proportion decrease in favor of "packaged" cloud release as Jive moves into the long tail of transitioning firms on older versions to upgrade or move to the cloud. One area of focus here may be integration between Jives' cloud capabilities and existing Jive on-premises solutions for those companies that must maintain legacy business models (and systems) as they make the transition forward.
The future of business is connected business, and social software is a critical part of this connectivity. Adding to this, the business of software is changing, putting strain on current business operations. The confluence of these two themes is having an increasing effect on the way organizations are leveraging social software for competitive advantage. New business models that align more closely with business outcomes and customers' experiences are becoming the norm. In addition:
- Solutions need to support these changing business model dynamics though being open and extensible. To support the change in the nature of work that social capabilities bring, organizations will consolidate internal applications where redundant processes begin to occur.
- The handoff between technology solutions and organizational silos needs to be integrated while taking into account the need for dynamic, elastic, mobile, global, and virtual software deployment and usage. This isn't easy to execute from a process perspective or a systems perspective.
- Social software initiatives have a varied impact depending on how valuable it is for a firm to connect the decision-making process. This impact is influenced by industry as it is based on the level of decision-making automation, the complexity of the organization, and the number of ad hoc decisions that need to be made.
- Established firms already have systems in place, but they are struggling to figure out how to get these systems to support their businesses as they move forward with flexible business models. Jive Software's cloud approach and integration story appeal to these firms, but it comes at the expense of a dramatic increase in the reach and head count of the customer success organization. There is also an opportunity to step up and support those organizations that must keep a foot in both worlds - traditional software and the software industry of the future.