I was sitting here preparing to write what you see below and thinking “this has got to be the only award that vendors can win that they dread winning.” Why, you might ask, the paradigm of innocence? Because if you think about it, it seems to be that I’m saying “Hey, congratulations, you won!! Now, here’s what’s wrong with you.” But I need to explain myself here, so give me a second to put this into context.
To win the Watchlist is actually an achievement (if I do say so myself). You had to meet a very difficult standard and be seen as a company who could sustain that standard over the next few years. Meaning, even if you did well, you didn’t win if I thought you were a one-hit wonder. That says a lot for the winners’ impact and their sustainability of that level over multiple years.
That said, I also don’t give a crap who wins the competitive wars and that bears on results too. Honestly, if company A and company B (not the boogie woogie bugle boys, though — who out there knows where that reference comes from?) are attacking each other — shame on them. If company A wants to get a competitive analysis that points out the weaknesses of company B relative to company A, that won't be from me, amigo.
What I do want is for all the companies I deal with, either as clients or not, to succeed. There is lots of money sitting out there and there are lots of opportunities waiting to be closed. This is a prosperous world — technology and business technology in particular — and plenty of room for many, many companies, with the likelihood of world domination about zero when it comes down to it. Any company that wins the Watchlist is a company that is doing those things that give them a significant chance for success, now and in the future. A great thing (at least in my eyes). They are terrific companies.
But they aren’t perfect companies either and what I try to do with the Watchlist is point out what they need to either fix or enhance to be even better than they are. Sometimes it can seem rough — but tough love is part of the winners “prize.” Hell, I put hundreds of hours into this and months writing these analyses. But I’m glad to do it because I hope that companies will at least consider the advice. If they don’t, I understand. I’m just giving an opinion. But, I hope, a well-considered one.
Okay, now I feel better. Lets get on with it. The companies I review in this maturing category require so much that I've had to split this into two posts it's so good, with Part 1 going up today and Part 2 on Monday.
But, first, a commercial.
The 2014 CRM Watchlist Registration is Now Open
On Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 7:00am ET, the CRM Watchlist 2014 registration process began. Yep, right in the middle of the 2013 reviews. Progress (and time) wait for no man (or woman). What that means is that if you are a technology company or consulting/systems integrator business that does "customer facing" things which means software or services products/solutions, you become a candidate for the CRM Watchlist 2014. That means that:
- You can request a 2014 registration form from me at email@example.com.
- When you receive it, fill it out exactly according to instructions and in return you will get the questionnaire for 2014 — either the vendor questionnaire or the consulting/SI questionnaire which are slightly different.
- You have until November 30, 2013 to fill out the questionnaire.
- If you send in the registration form to me, I will presume that you are going to fill out the questionnaire by the due date and will start tracking you as soon send the registration back to me. Please don't waste my time and request the questionnaire and then not fill it out. I'm tracking you for the better part of a year if you do send it.
Previously on CRM Watchlist 2013:
- CRM Watchlist 2013 Lifetime Achievement: IBM Institute for Business Value
- The Sweetest Suites: Part 1 of 3 – salesforce.com; Microsoft
- The Sweetest Suites: Part 2 of 3 – SAP, Oracle
- The Sweetest Suites: Part 3 of 3 – Infor, NetSuite, SugarCRM
- Marketing Puts Itself Out There - Aprimo, Eloqua, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Marketo, Neolane
- Customer Service Served Hot – KANA, Moxie, Parature
- Three Kings: Sales, Process, Analytics - Xactly, Lattice Engines, BPMonline, Pegasystems, Clarabridge.
Social WAS hot. Now it’s just business and the issue is no longer “doing social.” It’s getting results from it. It is mainstream. It’s not ubercool anymore. It’s not the greatest thing since…fire. It's now channels, it's now the place where unstructured data rests — well, doesn’t rest. Roils, really. It’s the place where conversations about brands and service issues and life in general and things in specific go on among lots of people. It’s a consideration of business that is necessary, not experimental; mainstream not edgy. In Gartneresque terms, the hype cycle is over. Now business value is the name of the social game. And it's not a social game. It’s a multichannel game where companies and customers decide on how they want to communicate with each other and then proceed to do so in ways that ultimately (and hopefully) provide value to each of the parties involved.
Also, to be entirely crystalline, Social CRM is now CRM – meaning there are virtually NO CRM applications that don’t take social channels into account in the technology and no customer facing strategy that doesn’t at least consider how to handle social channels. Even small business-related CRM apps from small companies are integrating social communications or social profiles or social…something, e.g. Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn integration via some API or another.
I’m not sure I can say this any other way really or any more clearly or bluntly. So-called social-the-noun is now a required component when strategic business decisions are being considered and named. Social is mainstream, necessary and not that cool anymore though it’s still kind of fun on the consumer side.
That said, we have the Watchlist winners who I’m categorizing as social (“you hypocrite,” you’re probably thinking, “what’s wrong with you. Say one thing, do another.”) because they are each part of the matrix that enables social communications when it comes to the nuclear technology needed to accomplish the purposes of a business.
The variance in the winners is wide though half of them are community platforms (Get Satisfaction, Jive, and Lithium). But the other three are unique to their own space: Nimble for small business, Gigya as a provider of a well-articulated social layer to web infrastructure, and Attensity as the listening and analytics platform that wraps results around social channel use.
But what they have in common is that they all have an impact on the marketplace and that they are likely to in 2013 though each has a set of things that they can do to escalate that impact to a long-term, multi-year proposition.
So, let’s start the dive. Remember, PR departments, this is in alphabetical order. So please don’t talk about how you “top” the Watchlist or how you are the “top” Watchlist winner. Other than the top ten percent, there is no possible way to make a distinction (beyond the #1). Again, this is alphabetical order.
When I do the Watchlist review for a repeat winner, I deliberately don’t go back to the one I wrote the year before. That way, my view of their strengths and what they need to do isn’t tainted in any way by what I already did. But I will go back and look at what I said the previous year after that.
When it comes to Attensity, damn if it isn’t the same things that impress me, plus more — and damn if it isn’t the same things they need to address…plus more.
The power of Attensity and its impact is in its products. They have a suite that provides exceptionally strong listening but combines it with analytics in a way that can provide actionable insight — but note the term I use. Can. I didn’t say does — though it does. All will be clear about that very soon.
They are one of the maybe five or so receivers of the full Twitter firehose, which, before Gnip and/or DataSift made the full firehose rentable, was a real differentiator. Now, not so much, but still important because they are able to integrate it across all products that require it.
Their products have expanded in the last year but in essence they have four:
- Attensity Pipeline – This is the data collection and organization engine. They do what you would expect here: slam about 150 million sources, grab the appropriate data, run analytics in real time, organize the data accordingly, and then route it to the right person — all in seconds. The key here is not the “social” part but the workflow and rules engine that gets the information into the right hands right away — hot off the unstructured presses.
- Attensity Respond – This is the engagement console for Attensity. See a tweet or a Facebook wall post or a blog comment and respond proactively. This, once again, allows you to do all or any of this from a single interface, organized in queues and routable to the best responder if need be.
- Attensity Voice of the Customer Command Center – As cool as this sounds, its actually a highly effective dashboard that combines the power of the Attensity Pipeline and Respond products. The idea is that on a war game-like set of big screens you will be able to see in real time the social media activity roiling on the social web about your brand and respond to it as soon as you see it. You can also get the immediate satisfaction of algorithm-run results for the actions you are seeing in as close to real time as it takes to capture the data, run the analytics and present them to you — seconds after the activities were IDed. So it has a Command Center vibe and thus the name. But it's in practical terms an aggregate dashboard that is showing you the big picture and the streams and other actions specifically associated with the results you are seeing and gives you the ability to respond. Coolness aside, this is a powerful capability that meets the velocity requirements of contemporary customers. And they can do it in 32 languages!
- Attensity Analyze – The analytics platform that they claim is “the industry’s most powerful and accurate sentiment analytics solution” — a claim that I have no idea how they make or sustain. I’d be publishing the numbers if I were them. That said, it is definitely one of the most powerful and has distinguished them from other social monitoring applications for a long time.
Much of Attensity’s impact is based on the power of their suite of applications. They retain the focus on an application suite where a lot of their competitors are making more of a platform play (see Radian6 Insights Platform). What really gives them the bang is the pervasive business rules and workflow engine that they have provided and the strong analytics at the back end. This helps distinguish them in the market.
They also have a well-considered small but strong partner network. Their strategy seems to be to deal with a limited number of valuable partners of three kinds. Technology partners focused around integration. That includes such smart associations as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Lithium, Teradata and of course Twitter (for the full firehose). Salesforce is notably but understandably absent post-Radian6 acquisition. They have Consulting/SI partners such as Capgemini, IBM, Cognizant, and very interestingly and wisely, Northrup Grumman and SAIC — wise as to at least the type of partner — government contractors heavily tied to the defense industry. Their VAR channel is a bit deficient and a bit strange — it lists a few small value added resellers and EFM/customer experience vendor Allegiance and their also technology partner Teradata. I have to presume that the latter two are an Attensity user and a partner who also resell — with the key word being “also.” This VAR channel could use a lot of work. In fact more on the partner/channel strategy below. The quality of what they do have, especially on the technology side, is very high and wisely considered.
Attensity is no stranger when it comes to big market reach kinds of programs. You see them blasting everywhere and showing up everywhere and this does add to their impact — especially since they make a conscious effort to intersect popular culture — albeit at a cost to them — both financially and “business spiritually.” But there is no doubt about their well-organized marketing effort and what is a very smart strategic decision to intersect popular cultural icons and high visibility events with their monitoring and analysis. The tactics…well, more later.
This is a company which, while it might have slowed a tiny bit from 2011, relative to the market still has a power that belies its size. They have 500 installations and have nothing but big things in their future and an even bigger impact on the market than they’ve made now.
What they need to do
- Need to do AR/IR by more than rote – There is a certain amount of irony in a company that does such good social monitoring and analytics work and has such a strong impact that they win an award like this, yet they clearly have little insight when it comes to analyst relations. While they are absolutely consistent in providing press releases that say “if you care to speak to an executive re: whatever-the-press-release-is-about ” they don’t really do more than this kind of rote work, and thus don’t have a consistent outreach program that shows an understanding of who the individual influencer they are sending their missives to, only what they are. A perfect example, and literally the most ironic one possible, given what you’re reading: If you look at their awards page (as of today, since I assume they are going to fix this), you’ll see that their 2012 CRM Watchlist victory is listed as two separate awards — an Enterprise Irregular CRM Watchlist 2012 winner and a ZDNet CRM Watchlist 2012 winner. This is wrong in so many ways, since, first, its only one award, not two separate ones, and it’s my award, not the vehicles that published my writings. The Enterprise Irregulars syndicate the ZDNet posts I write because I’m a member of the Enterprise Irregulars. ZDNet is my blog publisher. A little bit of research would have told them this. The importance is just a reflection of doing AR programs rote or doing them well — not any personal insult to me. I just found it ironically funny. Attensity, a company I think the world of, only does their AR program rote. They need to step up their game big time here.
- Stop the too many stupid “pop” campaigns – As I mentioned, Attensity made what is actually a smart strategic marketing decision to use their products to get results, typically out-on-a-limb predictive results from pop events or things that are noticed because they are icons in popular culture. So they might forecast something around the Super Bowl or around national elections or the propensity to purchase iPads. But, while it does get media attention, there is a cost to this. First, there is always a huge risk if you’re not Nate Silver, in forecasting anything around a national election — or, more broadly, around anything that has national attention. Second, there is a limit to how much of this should be done. The press releases I do get from Attensity more often than not will be about some pop event and their forecast around it. At a certain point, regardless of publicity it might generate, who cares. And they are wrong frequently enough to be noticeable. Look, ultimately, the value of Attensity is in the business results they generate — and they have a great deal of success in that. While there is some value in doing the pop culture campaigns and making the forecasts and getting picked up by USA Today, the reality is that the value has its limits — and the limits shrink, the higher the volume of these campaigns. Start intermingling them with business results and announce them as best you can. Your case studies are sparse. Build those up. Do some pop campaigns, but dial down the volume and cut back the volume.
- Open up the channel a bit more – In 2011 and even into early 2012, everyone wanted to partner with Attensity. Now, not so much anymore. Not because the desire isn’t there. But the Attensity partner strategy has been selective and up to now, it has worked wonderfully well. They have a solid partner network of marquee partners. But this is their time with the power of their products, to extend their power — and market reach and devote some resources to open up their partner networks. Time to partner with new large Sis like Accenture but perhaps, since they have an interest in the public sector, several other large government contractors like CSC, who given their scope seem to be ideal. A bigger number of technology integrations would be valuable too — SugarCRM and NetSuite come to mind — and perhaps Infor. I’m not 100% sold on a VAR channel expansion for reasons too numerous to mention here, among them, the value of Attensity as a standalone sale.
- They still lack vision – I’m going to repeat what I said last year verbatim, not because I’m lazy, clearly I’m not, but because it still holds true. “As I said, they have a clear mission and their releases indicate continuously smart incremental improvement in their core applications. But I find no evidence of visionary thinking. Perhaps they think “well, hey, we’re social. That’s visionary isn’t it?” Well, no, not anymore it isn’t. It’s mainstream and they rightfully have a product line that reflects multi-channel including the most traditional in what they do, putting them uniquely on top. Well, then, they counter, “we were in the Visionaries Quadrant (lower right) in the 2011 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social CRM”. That’s nice but this isn’t what I mean by vision. Gartner puts companies in the visionaries quadrant because their product is more advanced than others of its kind. THAT criterion they meet with some ease. What I mean is, companies should provide a way of seeing how they view their world-changing future benefit to business. Apple’s original vision, even though it never entirely succeeded, was poetically brilliant — “an Apple on every desktop” which of course, not only reflects Apple’s attitude of world domination, but the school, learning, teacher, education metaphor is great poetry and reflects the other side of Apple’s then long-term strategy. That’s a vision statement. That’s something to build from. That’s also what Attensity doesn’t have. Mission AND vision, not just mission. Vision isn’t just the agreement on mission among disparate groups. It’s a true framing statement for how you see your company in its world-class future doing something that you will change the world and benefit business doing.” Amen to that…still. No change there, so this year, they need to change.
This might sound like I’m being tough on Attensity and, truthfully, I am. But it's tough love. They have limitless potential and the only reason they haven’t gotten there yet is self-imposed limits. Even with those, they have made an impact on the industry that is lasting and will continue to be. Do some other things and they will go much further. I’d say its up to them entirely. But I think they will, which is why they won the Watchlist for 2013. That would be my Watchlist, not ZDNet’s or the Enterprise Irregulars ones.
This is the only first time winner on this year’s social provider list. Their presence reflects how well Gigya does what they do. But it also reflects a larger (relative) truth — the mainstreaming of social as part of the customer facing technologies — and the importance it now plays in the contemporary business. We’ve reached the era where social is simply part of business and any business it isn’t a part of is a business that is in trouble — now or in the future.
Plain and simple, Gigya provides a social infrastructure. I debated (with myself – which is kind of scary actually) their participation for a brief and somewhat insanely dumb moment when I was accepting (or rejecting) entrants into the Watchlist this year. But I quickly realized that their ability to deliver a lattice-like social infrastructure to their clients is deeply related to the enablement of customer engagement and bilateral communication between companies, customers and networks. Voila! Welcome to CRM Watchlist 2013.
The more I delved into Gigya, the more fascinated I became. Their delivery vehicle is a website. You might say, if that’s all you saw, “Meh. A website. That’s so retro.” What they are really delivering is a framework for social customer management and engagement that is geared toward the business users requirements. To differentiate them in easy-to-understand terms (if you’ve been in this market for the last hundred years) they are more like the equivalent of integrated marketing management than they are akin to marketing automation. Analogously, of course.
They provide not only the tools for engagement, but for the resource management, and the compliance and regulatory aspects of “social”; and strong administrative capabilities. Their social infrastructure framework breaks down into four pieces:
- User Management 360 – This is what they claim is a “solution for managing a new generation of user data” but I actually think they undersell what it is. This is the core management console for everything ranging from identity storage, to password validation to social login. In other words, it’s the admin dream for dealing with the immensely difficult world of real time unstructured conversations on the social web that apply to your interests as a company. Much more than data management, new generation or not. The Gigya NEXUS partner program is designed to facilitate the integration of User Management 360 into marketing programs like Exact Target, Silverpop, Responsys and Adobe for example. They also integrate with WordPress and Drupal – which for a company that delivers websites is a smart move
- Social Plug Ins – This is the engagement piece. This is where you get reviews, rankings, live chat, newsfeeds and and sharing among other interaction enablement tools.
- Gamification – This is what it sounds like. It provides all the basics that gamification uses to drive customer behaviors. Points, badges and special offers to reinforce the customer’s specific behaviors. Notification systems like leaderboards are provided.
- Analytics – They provide the analytics algorithms and the dashboards to see the results. Influence measures at the site level; referral traffic (i.e. advocacy); most popular gamification efforts; share rates are among what they offer.
What makes this product suite so powerful is that it integrates well into the systems that the customers already have and is a seamless part of the business’s multichannel programs. It is a pre-fabricated (with lots of customization capabilities) social framework that simply works.
Gigya has had significant success selling their value. They have over 600 customers including well-known brands like NBC, CBS, ABC, NHL, Kohler, Mobil, Sprint, Verizon and about 500 other marquee names. Seriously. Perhaps the Most. Impressive. Clients. Ever. Their strength lies in the B2C (business-to-consumer) world with vertical power in media and entertainment, news and publishing, ecommerce, consumer goods, and travel and hospitality – all verticals in which social has a HUGE impact, making Gigya a smart company for focusing on what I call the “emotional verticals” -- those verticals where how a person “feels” has more impact on the company than what that customer gets.
What’s funny is that Gigya’s footprint is actually far bigger than the company is. I won’t go into the incredible press recognition they’ve gotten – both contemporary and traditional – but suffice to say, they are a company with an aura. They have caché and good for them. They actually only have 150 employees and yet you’d think by their level of visibility in the market, they have 1500 employees. That’s impact -- and one of the reasons they arrived on the winners list of CRM Watchlist 2013. They are a market leader in social infrastructure, which, while not that big a category, is -- given contemporary business needs -- a big deal.
But they do need (and want) to get bigger, so there are things they need to do.
What they need to do
- Start playing in the CRM world - Because they are such an agnostic part of a business, they can become an important -- even critical -- toolset in a CRM platform that offers more social channel integration than infrastructure. It’s a big industry - $15-$18 billion – and Gigya represents a value to a lot of companies that aren’t where they are.
- Improve their overall outreach – They would do well to expand their outreach into the world of enterprise applications since they are enterprise-class themselves. Aside from the above-mentioned CRM technology partnerships, they would do well to reach the market influencers in that world. Also, engage the specific business media. Gigya is the company that you’ve heard of but don’t realize it until someone tells you their name. Not exactly top of mind – which is a shame, given that they are the clear leaders in their category – social infrastructure.
- Build a library of enterprise use cases – They have some use cases and a few case studies on their site. So there is a limited amount of content that they provide that's of decent quality. But I’m looking at this in a different sense. Their use cases are built around the idea of technology. What about the ones that can be built around outcomes for a Line of Business professional? Gigya represents an infrastructure. Infrastructure is both an obvious need for an IT department and a not-very-obvious need for a line of business. Use cases go a long way for lines of business in understanding how social infrastructure can provide them with outcomes that they can kvell over.
Gigya may be new to the winners’ circle here, but they are the market leaders in their field. They were and are the little engines that could. For a company to win the Watchlist they have to be thinking “big engine” and it has to be achievable. I’m betting that 2013 is the year they go all “big engine” on me.
Jive is a company that verges on doing great things; but to do those great things, there are some good things they have to commit to, one or two of them substantial.
Successes haven’t been handed to Jive. They earned them for many reasons. I’ll get into the reasons shortly but the results are excellent and well deserved – which of course, is why they won the Watchlist this year.
- They had a successful IPO and have remained relatively strong since.
- They broke over $100 million in revenue in 2012.
- They have achieved wide industry recognition from multiple places – aside from me of course. Forrester named them a leader in the Forrester WAVE for Enterprise Social Software; Gartner named them a leader in both Social CRM (not really that) and Social Software for the Workplace (definitely that).
- They have a top of mind recognition when it comes to one of the best choices available to Fortune 2000 C-level execs.
That’s priceless for a company that sees itself, even now, as small with “massive ambition” as they put it. It;s also well deserved.
There are multiple reasons that they have been successful – a few they might not even suspect – and they are all so eminently rational – and coherently thought through. Here are the two most important – and ones they might not suspect.
- They have a solid product ecosystem coupled with a fantastic partner strategy – What makes this mission critical to their success is that they are entirely realistic when it comes to understanding what they can do well and what they need partners to do well. Their strength is the Jive Platform – a social business platform that they’ve built around collaboration, scalability, and engagement in customer service, marketing and sales. Their ability to scale is leading to a enhancements around Big Data and predictive analytics – capabilities that they see as providing context in a work environment that is “overwhelmed by information and data deluge.”
They’ve developed multiple avenues for integration ranging from what they call “noise gateways” which are designed to organize the streams from other systems; to their Apps Market which is designed to let partners use the Jive API for additions to Jive’s capabilities (e.g. social graph); to finally Jive Anywhere which is the Jive social listening product. But they understand that just providing this isn’t enough in today’s market – especially if you want to go big. So they have one of the best thought out and executed partner strategies I’ve seen in the market to date.
They have strategic technology partners like Twitter, SAP, and LinkedIn that are based on both customer and Jive business needs – enhancements to the core of Jive’s Platform. They have more tactical technology partners who add a capability like Bunchball who add gamification to the Jive platform. They have strategic services partners like CSC and Accenture who use Jive as the tools for executing on strategies that the service partners deliver; they have implementation partners like Cognizant.
Some of these partners are go to market and some not. They also have the Apps Market where third parties add to Jive’s feature set. Take all of this and you get a core ecosystem that powers an offering that is a lot greater than just products.
- They have a profoundly right view of where the market is, what customers want, and how they have to proceed with those customers and prospects – Look at this statement made by CEO Tony Zingale on ZDNet February 5 – “The hype of social is dead. Social for social's sake is dead and Facebook for the enterprise is dead and buried. We're moving to an era of 'what does it do for me?'" he said. "Social as a term is loaded. Jive is going for systems and products that drive revenue. That's what mainstream buyers spend money on."
This is entirely right. I can’t be any more blunt than that. But they go a level deeper. I don’t often quote directly from a submission but I thought this expressed exactly what I wish all the entrants had said one way or the other. “As such, we are shifting to be laser-focused on driving a business-level conversation. We will encourage a conversation in the market about business outcomes while offering an implementation methodology that tracks those desired outcomes to allow customers to measure their progress against the goal.”
Business outcomes. Balm for the soul. Mission for Jive. And focus for an industry. They get it and they articulate it well, better than anyone else in the entire industry -- at least as far as I can see.
However, as well as they articulate under varying circumstances, this is not the market’s view of Jive, so they have some things to do to make it so.
What they need to do
- Dial it back – This arguably is the most important thing that they can do in 2013. They come across as arrogant a bit too much (and too frequently) for anyone’s liking. I’ve heard this from analysts, other vendors and practitioners so it’s not something that is isolated to one or two disgruntled ex-employees. In fact, none of the ex-employees I spoke to told me that and not that long ago it was a discussion among a significant and large group of influencers.
The form it often takes is ridiculously exaggerated competitive vendor smack talk. An example: "Jive is the only company that can answer the business value question. Period. ... The approach to social business taken by IT-centric legacy vendors such as Microsoft and IBM have consistently failed to deliver tangible business value and has wasted millions of customer dollars in the process."
Without going into detail, I suspect the failure numbers are rhetorical and based on a rather biased look at what constitutes lack of business value – at the best. Additionally, Jive isn’t the only company that can answer the business value question. Period. These kinds of statements, heard too often from Jive, need to stop. Win on your strengths.
Minimally, Jive needs to lose the nasty rhetorical flourishes. Plus be able to defend the statements they make like IBM’s and Microsoft’s “consistent failure” and “waste of millions of customer dollars.” And avoid similar accusations from other competitors. Jive isn’t actually an arrogant company, but there are too many public statements that seemingly prove otherwise.
Ironically, they have one of the most highly regarded people in the industry – their Chief Strategy Officer, Chris Morace – who is respected because he is as smart as he is and because he is as nice as he is. Jive might want to model themselves more after one of their own. Whatever. But dial it back a lot. Its just bad marketing.
- Get marketing in sync with mission, vision, outlook – Jive has had the devil of a time for the last several years, since former CMO Ben Kiker left them, in doing good marketing, which is ironic in so many ways since their outlook is actually spectacularly on point. Their marketing doesn’t reflect that outlook at all.
While individuals like the above-mentioned Chris Morace articulate the outlook well, the product collateral and marketing materials are more product centric than the company actually is. They have a good body of use cases and even case studies, but the feature/function listings actually diminish their worth. Generic documentation in vertically specific markets doesn’t help much either; nor does giving a market the impression of a nasty company do them any good.
- Get AR/PR/IR fixed – This has been a weakness of theirs for years. During the period they were heads down on the IPO, they virtually ignored the analyst world, which had toxic results for them. The (generous) thinking among the analysts at the time was “well, when the IPO happens, they will start the outreach they need to do.” Due to a series of bad decisions, it didn’t happen. They are in process now of fixing all that, but it has been very, very slow and still is far too slow.
Just to be clear, especially because I’m seen in part as an analyst, this isn’t some self-indulgence on my part – though outside of Chris, my relationship to the company has been non-existent for 3 years – this is a “necessary evil.” Meaning, it would be wonderful if I was out of a job in a manner of speaking and it wasn’t necessary for a vendor to do anything but stand on the merits of its own products to succeed. But that’s not reality. Success in the software world – and especially high ambition realized – is driven by a complex series of activities, one of which involves among other things – AR/IR/PR. Jive needs to step it up now – 2013 – March.
- Get more involved in the CRM world – This is more of a tweak than anything else. They have an extraordinary partner strategy that they have done an excellent job of executing on. One place that they could spend more time – both in cultivating partnerships, being visible when it comes to the industry and showing a strong value proposition for customers who have systems in place, is the $15-$18 billion CRM industry. There is a lot of opportunity here. If I were Jive, I’d make the effort. But I’m not.
In any case, Jive is a winner with some just fundamentally right things they are doing – some of the most important ones – one or two which can alter a market. If they proceed on the other things – wow. That’s about all I can even say about this.
To be continued Monday: Get Satisfaction, Lithium, Nimble