Jives Latest Release Takes Integration To 11

May 2 2012 05:00:00 PM Comments Disabled
Today Jive Software announced a major update to their social business platform, introducing several new features and a new free 30 day cloud based trial. Below is a summary of today's announcements and my thoughts based on conversations I had with Jive's CTO Matt Tucker and VP of Product Marketing Nathan Rawlins prior to the launch.

New Features and Updates and Jive for Teams

  • Jive Anywhere: A browser plugin that analyzes the current web page and displays matching "social content" from your Jive environment. Ex: You're viewing Acme Corp's home page, right on the side of the screen you'll be able to see all conversations, pages or people from Jive that are related to Acme.

  • Jive !App Experiences: Enables people to access 3rd party applications inside Jive pages. Ex: You can easily insert a file stored in a cloud service by simply typing "!" the same way you insert a name by typing "@".

  • Jive Edge: A sophisticated social intelligence engine that optimizes a wide range of social business processes such as search, providing more relevant, precise, and personalized results. Ex: If person A and person B both search for "competition", they will get different results based on their role and their social network.

  • Jive What Matters: People can now create their own custom activity streams containing post only from the people and topics they are most interested in.

  • Get Started: A guided tour of the key features of Jive, accessible at any time from a button at the top of the screen. The guides insruct you to complete a series of steps, or quests to help you learn how to use Jive effectively.

  • Jive for Teams: Cloud based collaboration platform that is easy to signup for and use. Two licensing options are available: Essentials for $12/user/month or Essentials+ for $18/user/month. Each provides Jive's core collaboration platform, mobile, social media monitors (Fathom), Jive Anywhere (embedded browser experience) and Jive !apps. Essentials adds Outlook and Office integration, plus the Ideation module.

Details and My Point of View

All of today's announcements have one thing in common, they each improve the way people can access the things they need to help them get work done.

Anywhere and Everywhere

I don't say this often, but Jive Anywhere has the potential to be one of those rare "game changing" technologies with respect to the way people work. Think about how most collaboration/social networking happens today. Say you're surfing the web and you discover some information that you want to share with your colleagues, perhaps news about a prospect, customer or competitor. You copy the URL and then switch over to your social network and paste it into a conversation. With Jive Anywhere, Jive is no longer "another tool you switch to", instead it becomes an integrated experience that is right there while you're viewing the web page. Not only can you start a conversation about the information you've discovered, but more importantly Jive Anywhere shows you all the people, pages and communities in your Jive infrastructure that are related to the web page you are viewing.

The integration of features and/or information between two platforms can occur in many ways. We've been talking about "collaboration in context" for years, but Jive Anywhere is one of the best examples I've ever seen of this in action. Yesterday I introduced what I call the Integration Maturity Model. In it I outline how integration has two variables: a) where the integration occurs and b) how interactive the integrated experience is. The introduction of Jive Anywhere (plus !Apps covered below) moves Jive Software from a 2 to a 4 on this scale.

I mentioned above that the way Jive Anywhere works is that it analyzes the information on a web page and matches it to the content located inside Jive. Now this can occur on any generic web page, but Jive Anywhere also has what they call "cartridges" which can provide more advanced integration with specific web pages. For example, instead of just bringing in a page's title, with a cartridge Jive Anywhere could know about specific fields on a webpage such as customer name, phone numbers, tracking numbers, flight details, etc. Jive Anywhere is shipping with cartridges for LinkedIn and Salesforce (with more currently in development) plus there will be an SDK that enables developers to build their own cartridges.

The following video shows a few examples of how Jive Anywhere in action. Notice how in each case Jive Anywhere is not a plugin, meaning no changes or installs are required on the website (ex: Salesforce). Instead all the collaboration occurs in the browser's sidebar.

If developers start to build specific Jive Anywhere cartridges and they are made available in the Jive App Store this could result in an extremely powerful way for people to get work done. Enabling people to collaborate right inside all the web-based tools they already use (CRM, ERP, financial, legal, medical, etc.) means they don't have to "learn Jive" and in some cases they may not even know they are using it. Essentially Jive Anywhere empowers any web-based product to become a socially enabled platform.

Appy Appy Bang Bang

In contrast to Jive Anywhere, Jive !Apps (pronounced bang-apps) making apps available inside Jive. What's special about !Apps is how easy they are for people to use. Similar to how social networking has taught us to type "@" when we want to mention a person's name, Jive is introducing "!" as the key to press to easily insert an object into a page in Jive. Partners can build !Apps for things like file sharing, project management, sales opportunities, charts/graphs and much much more.

The combination of Jive Anywhere and Jive!App experiences provides people endless possibilities in the ways to interact in context with the tools they need to get work done.

Search and You Will Find

Based on the technology (and people) from the acquisition of Proximal Labs, Jive has been hard at work creating what they call Jive Edge, their social intelligence engine. The results of which are more accurate recommendations of content and people to follow; as well as search results that are tailored to each individual. So instead of simply indexing content and returning items based on relevance to the topic being searched for, Jive can now display results based on the objects you interact with, the people you follow, the communities you belong to, etc.

I'm a fan of this type of technology, provided I have the ability to override and/or tailor the criteria that influence the results. For example, just because I am a member of a certain community does not necessarily mean that I want results from that community to be weighted higher. In fact, there may be times where I want the opposite, as I'm looking for expertise or information that is not part of the ecosystem I already participate in.

While this is a great feature which will certainly benefit Jive users, it is not unique. In the consumer world Google calls this Search Plus Your World (which was not meet with universal love when it first launched) and other social business competitors such as IBM Connections also offer socially aware search results.

Living The Stream

Continuing on the topic of algorithms making decisions for us, Jive has introduced several improvements to their activity streams, including Jive What Matters, their stream that tries to automatically filter content that is relevant to you. I've been vocal for quite some time about my concerns around activity steams, how I think they can be made more manageable and some of the ways I'd like to see streams evolve.

Jive is doing a good job of making steady improvements to activity streams and with today's release they have introduced the ability for people to easily create their own custom streams based on people and topics they want to follow. The customization screen offers a nice drag and drop interface but is lacking some of the more advanced filters that tools like Tibbr and Bottlenose provide, although that is probably ok for a high percentage of users.

I'd like to see the ability to share custom streams with colleagues. Imagine creating a stream and sharing it will your peers, then in a meeting (phone call, web conference) saying "Ok everyone, switch to your Project Alpha steam and notice that Jane is asking about ship dates."

Currently SAP StreamWork provides the most advanced stream-based experience for getting work done, offering a variety of business objects such as decision matrixes and analytical tools. I'm quite interested in seeing how Jive evolves the integration of !Apps into the stream as a way to compete with this.

Jive for Teams and Getting Started

Since this post is already quite long, I'm going to write about Jive's new cloud based offering in a separate blog post which I will link to here once it is done.

In conclusion, today's announcements show huge improvements and advancements in the ways Jive can help people engage with the colleagues, content and communities that can help them get work done. Jive's overall user experience is now much simpler and cleaner looking; the new search features and improved activity streams make it easer for people to find what they need; and the introduction of Jive Anywhere and !Apps provides unparalleled levels of integration both inside and outside of Jive.