Jive CEO: 'Facebook for the enterprise' rap is dead

If the social enterprise movement is played out what does that mean for a company like Jive Software?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The future of the so-called social enterprise is generating a good bit of debate. And as that debate continues, it's worth checking in on one of the pure-play vendors in the space.


If the social enterprise movement is played out what does that mean for a company like Jive Software?

We caught up with Jive CEO Tony Zingale (right) to talk social enterprise and the debate emerging about its future. The interview is timely given that Jive will deliver its earnings on Tuesday.

Here's the recap of our conversation.

Where's the sweet spot for social enterprise? Will collaboration features become table stakes and embedded everywhere?

Zingale said that social enterprise software has proven that it has business value. "Our entire business is predicated on delivering value on our social business platform," said Zingale. "We deliver value and customers renew or they don't." As for use cases, Jive sees a bit of everything ranging from social intranet communications, sales and marketing and customer service. Zingale also noted that "every enterprise app will add a handful of social features."

What about social sprawl if every app adds those features?

Zingale said basic social features will become part of all applications, but they may not be differentiators. Jive's linchpin will be pulling the systems together into a social business platform, he said. "I don't care what CRM or ERP system you use or what your Web applications are there's a place in the market for an agnostic standalone pure play vendor," he said.

He added that many vendors can add social capabilities, but not add value.

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What's Jive's value metric?

Zingale said that workface productivity is often the business value. The idea is that the workforce will get access to more enterprise applications and spend less time tracking down email and information. Social enterprise metrics that matter include faster time to on-board an employee or user and time spent on effective customer service.

What can you do to drive social enterprise usage and derive value?

"What we saw in the first generation of social platforms was features inside an application, but if you think you can just turn it on you're wrong," said Zingale. Beyond those features lies a lot of heavy lifting. Zingale acknowledged that the failure rate on social software that's merely flipped on and expected to work wonders is "pretty high." "Our services are designed to coach customers through best practices, how to implement and deploy," said Zingale, who added that there's backend work needed to get employees adopted and engaged often via a community manager.

Zingale added that social enterprise software is in the early days much like ERP and CRM where purchases were very technology driven. Today, mainstream buyers need consultation to get the social dynamics they want. "(Social software) is not a global SAP implementation---it's not that challenging---but you have to learn how to be social and collaborate," he said.

What makes social implementations work?

Zingale said executive level sponsorship is key to make the social enterprise work. Why? Social enterprise is a cultural change that needs use cases and real business objectives. Typically, those items come from high-up on the company food chain.

Does Jive have old code and technical debt?

This issue was raised by a few folks tracking the social enterprise market. Zingale noted that the customer base "doesn't care about our code base." He added that Jive is delivered out of the cloud and most of its customers---70 percent---are on that software as a subscription model. Other industries such as financial services and highly regulated industries have opted for on-premise deployments. Both cloud and on-premise deployments of Jive have the same code base, but there's a different update schedule. For instance, the cloud customers are all on the latest iteration of Jive, but companies with 100,000 seat deployments will be on a slower schedule.

What's the mobile play?

Zingale said mobile and social are fundamentally connected. Jive has to be mobile first, but has been wary of going app happy. Jive supports iOS applications natively and has gone HTML5 for the rest. That plan can change as customers warrant. "We have HTML5 on Android, but if we need to be native we will go there as we get more use cases," said Zingale. "For mobile salesforce and customer service agents, the mobile HTML case is not enough. We just follow the market."

What's the competition look like?

Zingale said Jive's biggest competitive hurdle is companies that aren't sure they need to be in social software. If dealing with a large IT organization, Microsoft and IBM are in social platforms. Jive's plan is to get both the CIO and CXO on board with social software. "We look for the line of business leader in a large global institution. Of course, the CIO is often involved but we embrace both groups," said Zingale. "Business oriented purchases need business, technology and sponsorship involved."

Zingale said that business value will drive social enterprise going forward. "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."

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