Broadvision announced a collaborative business platform, Clearvale, and a partnership with Softbank, a major Japanese telecommunications company.
The move is part of Broadvision's attempts to reinvent itself and reverse a long decline in revenues. The company was once one of the high flyers of the dot com boom with its portal and web commerce platforms used by some of the largest corporate web sites.
Now it is seeking to move beyond the web site and become a major platform for collaborative business processes that combine internal and external teams. Broadvision describes Clearvale as the "first network of networks."
About 4,000 companies have been beta testing Clearvale.
I recently met with Broadvision founder Pehong Chen, here are some notes from our conversation:
- It's very easy for a department to start using Clearvale. It's like when blogging first started, you needed to install the software and do a lot of work before publishing your blog, now there are many hosted platforms where the set up is easy and there are existing templates. That's what we offer, easy setup.
- There are others, such as Jive that claim similar capabilities but they require a lot of IT work to set up, our solution needs zero IT time. People can immediately start using it.
- The project started off as a skunk works in China two years ago. We soon saw that we had a powerful platform and that this could become a major business for us.
- Business is changing, it's important that everyone has a stake in the business and Clearvale enables that, it pulls together staff and helps organize around a common vision.
- Many surveys of HR have shown around 40% of people leave companies because they don't understand the vision. That's about $38,000 in losses per employee, if you can save just ten exits, that's nearly $400,000, a substantial sum. Clearvale helps retain staff it's worked great for us.
- Clearvale can also be used for tasks such as SOX compliance by farming out the tasks needed to prepare for audits. We use it internally and it saves us a lot of money.
- Clearvale is designed for bottom-up use, it doesn't require any IT involvement. It's a cloud based platform with excellent security.
- We are partnering with Telcos such as Softbank in Japan as resellers. Telcos want a service that they can use that challenges Microsoft in the enterprise. Telcos can offer enterprises one bill for multiple IT services.
- We also have a mobile app for Clearvale.
Broadvision is making a bold move that reinvents its business. The Clearvale platform looks impressive but it will be difficult to gauge how quickly businesses will start using it. Established business processes are notoriously difficult to change and they usually only change when an organization is going through a lot of pain.
However, businesses know that they need to move towards more collaborative business processes to take advantage of the productivity gained internally, and from working with external partners.
We are still at the beginning of this business transformation, which potentially is one of the largest we will ever see. It's part of the EC=MC (every company is a media company) trend in which companies have to engage with their internal and external partners and communities. Those that do it well will prosper.