Jive Rolls Out New Product, Takes on Microsoft and IBM in Social Business Software

3/10/09Follow @gthuang

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their contacts in all the different departments, as well as relevant news feeds and other information from outside the company, including customer forums and what the company’s partners are tracking. From there, you can manage collaborative tasks, send and receive messages, and update your status for other team members and partners. One goal of all this is for a company’s chief information officer, head of engineering, or head of marketing to understand at a glance who’s working with whom, which departments have what responsibilities, and the sentiment of both team members and customers—without having to use separate tools like e-mail, spreadsheets, and social networks.

Since laying off a third of its staff (about 40 people) in October, Jive has signed a number of new customers and partners, including United Business Media, Portland Energy Conservation, and Premiere Global Services. “2008 was an amazing journey for Jive,” Lawrence says. “At the beginning of the year, there was a land-grab mentality. We were leading a lot of that. We added 200 customers, and hit a big, huge inflection point.” (I took that to mean the company is now poised for growth after cutting back in order to stay profitable in the market downturn.)

Lawrence sees Jive’s main competitors as big companies like Microsoft and IBM, which he says are trying to add social business software as features in their existing products, rather than building a unified platform. He dismisses other startups that are taking primarily consumer applications like Twitter, blogs, and wikis, and “dressing it up” for business application. Still, there are plenty of dedicated business-software startups trying to improve workflow and project management, like Bellevue, WA-based Smartsheet. But that sort of business software doesn’t tend to have as strong a social-networking component—it’s more about interactivity with the data and workflow than with other employees.

In the end, Jive seems refocused on its goal to lead the industry in social software for businesses. The question now is, with the recession in full swing, will companies be willing to take a chance on a new social platform if they think it will improve business results?

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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