Coming over to San Francisco for the TIBCO tibbr launch event and then flying back to Spain all in the space of 26 hours concentrates the mind.
On the one hand we have a company that is steeped in the technical weeds of what it takes to make a large scale enterprise 'tick' along. On the other hand we have a media that, in Pavlov's Dog fashion, equates what TIBCO is doing with competitive comparisons to SocialText, SocialCast, Yammer, Chatter and a cast of vendor thousands. Apart from the simple microblogging element, nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's get microblogging out the way first. It is a technology that at its most basic level anyone can develop and have working at reasonable scale in less than six weeks. I was part of a team that did exactly that. From an enterprise perspective that's just about table stakes. What matters is nuanced context in terms the enterprise understands.
So for example Chris Kanaracus at CIO.com reports on CIBER which had been working with Yammer:
...over time the company found Yammer's feature set lacking, he [Tony Hadzi, EVP and president of Ciber North America]said. Tibco's background in enterprise messaging and integration was a selling point for Tibbr, he said. "Yammer to me was more of a point solution. Tibco was an enterprisewide product."
It is a pity Chris's article is titled: Tibco Aims At Salesforce, Socialtext with Tibbr Platform because that's not the whole story. It may be partially true in the sense that tibbr has microblogging capability and its features can in turn be compared with Chatter etc. but that misses the more fundamental point.
tibbr is device, application and system agnostic. It is not tied to any particular application. TIBCO's heritage comes from taking those disparate applications and making them work together. TIBCO doesn't care what apps you're using as long as it can expose them into its messaging and integration platform. THAT's the fundamental difference. Put another way, TIBCO is acting as the honest broker between competing solutions and saying: 'We don't care who you are as long as we can expose your data.'
From my perspective, tibbr is opening up the socially mediated debate. By offering what I see as a self evident application from the end user perspective which should aid adoption while allowing any major enterprise app to participate in the enterprise conversation it is further eroding the boundaries between siloed operations. It is doing so in a controlled manner. That appeals with many of those I spoke with at the launch. Like it or not, business needs to feel as though there is some control and TIBCO can provide that through its policy management capabilities.
It is easy to criticise TIBCO as an engineering company where the bits and bytes take center stage. That company understands this part of the equation very well. It also knows this style of application is somewhat different. But is that such a bad thing? If we accept the fact that business ends up running on the transaction then the transition to the socially mediated means of getting there should be given time to evolve, breathe and mature. I'm not sure any of those who yell 'social anything' have been prepared to recognise that necessity.