After last week's announcement of SharePoint 2010 by Microsoft, with a scheduled arrival date of second quarter 2010, Jive Software announced their 'Social Business Software 4' yesterday at their San Francisco 'Jiveworld' event.
It was interesting to contrast the huge Vegas Microsoft unveiling with this far more customer centric occasion - one of Jive's signature characteristics is their close ear to the ground for what their customers need.
Today's Jive event was part celebration, complete with a wonderfully creative 'keynote' performance by slam poet Rives, video DJ's at breakfast time and a degree of pride on stage for how far the company has come.
Having just secured another round of funding to 'double down' on development, and with major releases planned at six month intervals over the horizon, Jive are a company on the move.
The reality is they need to be, because SharePoint 2010 is going to grow from an 800 pound gorilla to an 8000 monster over the next couple of years and beyond. Jive and other vendors need to be fleet of foot to stay ahead of this juggernaut, staying ahead of the curve with innovations and agility.
This latest release acknowledges the increasing presence of Microsoft in the space with the 'JiveConnects' module (which is DocVerse) that turns Microsoft Office into a fully web enabled collaboration tool seamlessly accessible and synced through SBS4. Word, Powerpoint and Excel can now be shared in real time and simultaneously group edited, with tracked changes and intelligent, controllable merging.
The Jive internal rich text editor now allows cut and paste of Office document components - whether we like it or not Microsoft's ubiquitous document formats are part of our daily lives, and these two advances help to simplify personal workflow.
Mobile - with iphone and blackberry applications, are an important component of the SBS4 package.
"The explosion of social networking onto the mobile phone scene has demonstrated what is possible when you allow people to stay connected, regardless of where they are. Now, mobile workers can connect and collaborate with colleagues participating in critical business conversations, anytime, anywhere." said Jive's SVP of Products Christopher Morace.
This of course varies by device, with the iphone offering the richer experience but the poorer cellular service.
There's some general structural improvements in SBS4: Improved content organization and presentation capabilities, user interface and workflow design, and behind the screens performance, administration, and scalability tweaks and additions.
The modular approach allows SBS4 to be set up for Marketing & Sales, Employee Engagement, Innovation, and Support, with particular emphasis placed on 'Market Engagement Solution', which combines 'buzz monitoring' metrics tools with internal and external collaboration tools which enable a unified 'social media marketing strategy'.
The new bridging module gives controls and capabilities to pull high-impact content from the public conversation on the web inside for team discussion and collaboration, and then responding to customers by posting all or part of the discussion back to the public community.
All these shiny new features are excellent advances and Jive's rapid pace of innovation is impressive. But as is the case with all enterprise vendors who have been iterating for a few years, there are now customers who deployed way back on 2.0, customers with heavily customized branched environments who can't upgrade and the various pilot programs that can't get traction inside companies for political and other reasons.
The price you pay for running a user conference is hearing concerns and grumbles (and of course there's a value to that also for all parties) and I heard a few of those today. Kudos to Jive for putting the event on and also running their various user collaborative sites to both enable dialog and to monitor the pulse of their users.