Jive talking: Easy to underestimate effort required to get people engaged

Oliver Marks and Larry Dignan both have a take on Jive Software's Social Business Suite 3.0 announcement.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Oliver Marks and Larry Dignan both have a take on Jive Software's Social Business Suite 3.0 announcement. As Oliver says, we talked at length about the topic last evening.

On the one hand this is unquestionably a brave move. Carving out a new category, complete with TLA is not something you'd expect to see in a recession. But Jive thinks it's got enough development and marketing runway to take a tilt at the enterprise market. Looking at the stack, SBS 3 definitely has that 'enterprisey' feel.

The question is whether it can carve its own path or gets caught between the jaws of the IBM/Microsoft vise. Sam Lawrence, Jive's CMO is ready for those questions: "You can't put whipped cream on pig manure and expect people to not notice the difference,'" he quips, referring to attempts at putting cute AJAX look and feel to what he believes are 'old' products. Even so, it begs the question: Is Jive creating a category to compete with the Big Boys like Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Oracle (MISO) or is it building out to flip?

I suspect the latter given that competitors often view what Jive is doing as 'features' rather than product. It wouldn't for example surprise me to find that SAP comes knocking on Jive's door. It's a big Jive user for its various ecosystems and a good number of SAPpers have bought into the whole 'social business' thought stream.

The real question though is whether in say a year's time, Jive will be able to shout loud about success stories where collaboration has truly taken hold. Lawrence said the genesis of the suite came from large customers coming back saying this is what they want. I have no doubt and if true then it implies business is finally getting the collaborative vibe. But as Oliver Marks correctly surmises:

Dennis Howlett and I discussed today’s briefing this afternoon and the 90-9-1 rule came up: 1% are creators, 9% editors and the other 90% are a passive audience of lurkers.

Jive have their Clearstep community for users, extensive training materials and a new consulting wing to help customers get traction, but the reality for all ’social community’ roll outs is that the software is a relatively minor component compared to the change management required to drive uptake and usage and to weave the software into the business fabric of day to day use.

Careful strategic planning and being careful what you wish for are still much more important than the latest shiny objects, particularly now that JIve propose you entrust all you relationships and communication to their enterprise-class environment.

This is the real sticking point. Communities with which I have an engagement regularly follow the 1/9/90 rule. It seems that despite best efforts, it is a devil's own job to shift that 1% needle, even in organizations where the principle capital is tied up in people's knowledge. It is all too easy to underestimate the effort required to get people engaged. Especially when most folk come to work because they have to earn a living wage rather than because they have some emotional tie to the business.

social sentiment

social sentiment

Jive believes that can change when people see the value of aggregating information across otherwise siloed operations but as Lawrence says: "It's a bit like Twitter - most people just don't get the point until they see it for themselves."  That makes for a tortuous sales cycle, especially at the higher levels of management to which Jive will have to appeal. Even so and despite the doom and gloom in the enterprise software market, Jive is on a roll at the moment, regularly snagging good deals. I hope they don't end up as shelfware.

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