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Do Companies Need Vendors Like Jive Software?

Posted by on March 27, 2011

Jive is perhaps one the most recognizable names in the enterprise collaboration space and many would argue that they are miles ahead of the competition.  However, a part of me wonders if organizations interested in enterprise collaboration are even ready for Jive yet.  One of the keys to success for organizations seeking to deploy these collaborative tools (from the vendor standpoint) is ease of use, intuitiveness, and RELEVANT feature set.  It seems as though Jive can do almost anything, but is that really what organizations need or want?  Many companies are just trying to hang picture frames and Jive is trying to offer the ability to tear down walls.

I’m finding that many times organizations just want a tool that can help them solve a particular problem whereas Jive offers an entire tool-kit, and then some.  Penn State chose not to go with Jive not only because they were too expensive but because they were just too complex.  Jive wants to be all things to all companies and I’m wondering if that might hurt them in the long run.  Jive’s robust feature set might also be their biggest problem.  I’ve also spoken to a few vendors last week, several of whom are in the process of taking existing clients AWAY from Jive for precisely that reason.  In fact I also heard an interesting story that an un-named organization took just over 9 months to deploy a Jive instance…wow!

Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become very successful precisely because they were so simple to use and get started with.

There’s no question that Jive’s feature set is second to none, their analytics are top notch, the platform can be used internally and externally, their mobile functionality is great, and you can also build your own customized apps.  All sounds great right?  But, I really wonder how much of the Jive functionality is actually being used by organizations deploying these tools; 20% 50%?  Organizations are showing plenty of success with tools such as Yammer, Thought Farmer, Confluence, and a host of other more intuitive, MUCH lower cost, and simpler to use tools.  So why the need for something as robust and complex as Jive?  Do you really think that organizations seeking to deploy these tools are asking for and using everything that Jive offers?  My guess is no.  I also understand that every organization has different needs and goals.

I think a part of the reason that companies go with vendors like Jive is for insurance.  Meaning that they want the ability to do some of the things that Jive offers just in case the need might arise in the future. Even though the vast feature set isn’t currently needed, people want those options.  Another reason I believe companies go with Jive is because they know that Jive will be around in the future so there is the sense of security that your collaboration platform will still be up and running.  Finally, I think that many organizations don’t know what they don’t know.  The industry is still not mature and so the first decisions or deployments that organizations make are not always be the best ones.  Perhaps as more organization continue to use Jive they will begin transitioning away from them to more intuitive, low cost, and simple to use tools?  Or on the flip side, perhaps Jive will continue to make a ton of money and grow!

Is Jive a bad company? No.  Does their product suck?  I think Jive is actually doing some great things and I’m very impressed with their growth and ambition.  But these questions still linger in my mind. What do you think?  Am I completely wrong here?

  • Mreimer

    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Three of us at my company are making a decision between Jive and a competitor and asking ourselves exactly what you’ve put forth. How much growth will we see in our use of the tool in the next 3 years vs. the cost and complexity of this tool?

    Thanks for sharing what your observing in the industry.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Mreimer. I’d love to connect with you and discuss your concerns re: selection of a social vendor. It can be a daunting task, but if you have a wholistic viewpoint, it can help. Feel free to reach out to me directly at cwiley [at] ingagenetworks [dot] com. Best regards.

    • Hi Mreimer,

      It is best you consider every possible option available to you before making a decision. That is why I am inviting you to visit our website You can email me directly should you have any questions of if you are interested in having a conversation around your needs.

      Hope to hear from you soon.


    • Thanks for the comment, these are all important questions to answer. I obviously don’t know enough about what you’re doing to say whether or not Jive is a good fit. All depends on what you are looking to do.

  • I second the comment by Mreimer. I see this same dynamics play out too. I agree from the perspective of a social business platform Jive is really impressive. I’ve used it myself and I have recommended it to some clients (where it met their needs). And yet, I also see cases where the choices are made (or resistance is being posed) based on factors that are well outside of what I thought was a rational evaluation of the vendor platform.

    Makes me wonder who is really making these vendor-selections decisions, and based on what criteria are they making the call? I think all vendors need to have a clear picture of this reality so that they can market their products and close their sales in a more effective manner.

    • Kristen

      Gil – I think some of what’s happening is a shift to SaaS, and more of the decision making on the business side as opposed to the IT side decisions of years past. In our case, we have very few developers, and we’re not a software development company. So, over time, we realized that by trying to save money and keep it simple, we weren’t keeping up with the evolving social business space, and it was costing more to throw more resource on every new thing we developed. The business side took over and made the determination to go SaaS…so we needed something that had breadth and was easily administered.

      • Kristen, I agree — and as the business side of the house is making more IT decisions than ever before (with or without IT support), one might think that this would favor the non-incumbents such as Jive against the more traditional IT partners (e.g. MSFT, IBM, Oracle, or EMC — which have footings in most large enterprises), or built-it ourself approaches that many in IT seem to gravitate toward.

        So by Jacob detecting a pattern of resistance that is different than the other patterns of resistance, it seems that Jive is in a very interesting market position — where it is differentiated from some of the platform-play social startups (many of whom are a good couple of years old by now, and no longer startups). I don’t see this as a commentary about whether Jive is the right choice for a given company, but how the Jive is being perceived in the choice process.

        A wise person once told me that you can measure success based on resistance. If no one is against you, you have not been doing enough to be on anyone’s radar. If Jive is now facing a new type of resistance within the E2.0 buyer space — it’s an indicator of something.

  • I’ll preface my comments by saying that my company is an existing Jive customer. We debated the question of whether we wanted a toolkit or a single-use tool, and ultimately came down on the side of getting the tool kit.

    As you correctly pointed out, most companies don’t know what they don’t know. Our fear was that we’d have tool ‘x’ for user communities, tool ‘y’ for collaboration/crowdsourcing, etc…leading eventually to a pretty good-sized collection of tools that may or may not work well together (think of mixing metric and English socket sets!).

    Following the toolkit analogy a bit more…just because you buy a fully loaded toolbox from your favorite hardware store doesn’t mean that you need to immediately start using every tool in the box. You may start with just the hammer and screwdriver, then break out the saw later, etc. Granted, if you know for sure that you will ONLY need a hammer, then buy just that. But if you’re going to get into woodworking (or start a handyman business), you know that sooner or later you’ll need more than just that hammer – and you rely on the people who put together the toolkit to give you the best range of tools for the most common usage scenarios.

    This leads to my last point. There are some tools that are so obscure that you’d never find them in a toolbox – but they’re perfect for one specific use case. Same applies with any commercial platform. Try as you might, you’ll never make it fit 100% of your collaboration needs. You have to allow for the possibility – indeed, the inevitability – of needing a 2nd or 3rd tool for some of your collaboration needs. However, if you bought the right toolkit up front, then you know you’ve got 80% of what you need.

    • Hi Jim,

      So it sounds like one of the points I made in the post rings true. A part of the purchase decision to go with Jive was the “insurance policy” reasoning?

  • Interesting post. I’ll confess that I’m a Jive customer and am the person who chose Jive for my 200 000 employee company. The main reasons we chose it were
    – It offered a solution set that meets our needs : groups, profiles, activity streams, …We needed more that a simple wiki, or yammer. We needed what I’ll call a suite.
    – the excellent and intuitive user interface as validated by our pilot users. No other suite solution was as easy to use and understand.
    – the vision of the vendor. I did not want to own the vision of where we are going. I wanted to partner with a vendor who I could count on to take us in the right direction. Jive is doing that not just for us but for the industry.

    In a company our size, it is critical that we have a common platform across the group. In those situations, you need a suite tool that will meet the widest set of needs, yet at the same time still remain simple. That’s Jive. It is not everything for everyone. But it is most things for most people.

    Regarding time deployment, we are hosting our own instance. From the time we received our hardware platform, it tool us one day to connect our SSO and LDAP. Probably a few hours to configure the parameters. And we were done. This is the easiest bit of software I have ever worked with.

    What takes time is preparing the company, the roll-out, the legal department etc.

    But once they start, the benefits are come big and fast. We can point to multiple instances where we’ve saved man-months of work, or found new opportunities for existing products, or significantly improved our designs through collaboration of people who never knew each other before. And then there is the much greater sense of belonging that people get when a senior business leader uses Jive as means for connecting more closely with his/her employees.

    Do companies need vendors like Jive? Not “like” Jive. They need Jive.

    • Bart your reply reminds me . . . When CSC did our bakeoff we evaluated Jive against other players. One area we evaluated (and carefully) was the 1) cost and 2) ease of administration. Your answer above reinforces what our evaluation in this area suggested as well and that is that it was far more difficult to install other tools and administer them (including the cost of the skills we needed to support other technologies) vs. the ease/cost of administering Jive.

  • Kristen

    I echo Jim’s sentiment. In our case, we’re a highly decentralized company and we found that many employees were going out to solutions like Yammer, Google Docs, Social Wok, etc. That was great, since it solidified a need for the tools….but the bad part was that our collaboration was so segmented that the whole organization didn’t benefit from these pockets of collaboration…and our IP was out there in places that might not be as protected as they could be. So, when we did our RFP, we listed our requirements as the aggregation of the best of what 5+ other platforms were doing. Jive was unique in that it offered most of what we wanted. So – while the employee population at large isn’t using all of what Jive offers….we find different patters with employees. Some segments of our business use some tools more than others, etc. Our Jive instance just launched weeks ago, so I don’t have any major metrics to share…but I can tell you the leap we made was from customized Sharepoint 2007. The fact that our initial solution lacked some of the social tools is what, I believe, drove them out to use 3rd party solutions in pockets. Now that we’re offering something compelling, they’re coming back. And, since we’re so decentralized, our major hook is that it’s the ONLY place to find and connect with employees across other areas of our business. In short, I’d say that the breadth of Jive’s functionality is good becauss it’ll appeal to a larger, more diverse, global audience…and be able to answer a wide variety of internal requirements. Also helps with more fixed cost, so you don’t have too much incremental spend as you try to add features over time. Hope this helps.

  • I led the business case, requirements gathering and strategy for CSC’s 93K+ deployment. We selected Jive for several main reasons:

    1. Because we knew our business problem, what we hoped to solve and how a solution should match our company politics, culture and business.

    2. We knew our requirements were comprehensive in nature. We did not have the appetite to put in a point solution or many and integrate them. We needed a true suite solution.

    3. We needed something that would support emergent, self-service creation patterns and a high degree of personalization so that communities could form at will and yet individuals could still control how they get and receive community signals and updates

    4. We also knew we needed to put our users and usability first. We spent too much time and money in the past training users on how the user should interact with a work application rather than the system working the way people want to get work done (focus here: usability and human factors built in). (We learned Jive was an almost “no manual required UI” by the way from our users).

    5. We knew we wanted a solution to keep pace with the speed of innovation in this market.

    6. And finally we knew we couldn’t make this a one-off story. To be truly successful as an enterprise innovation only happens when a business integrates all layers of its eco-system well to truly collaborate within (employee only), outside of (customer community only) or across (extended communities) the enterprise.

    Jive met our business requirements above and they have continued to demonstrate a clear understanding of how to do so in a way that scales and allows us to run our mission critical, daily business activities.

    If companies don’t have their goals defined well, how will they know if they are selecting the right tool? For some, Jive might be more than a company need, so you are correct on this point, for sure. And that’s why when I talk about this I say “Step 1: Define your business case, your business goals and what problems you need to solve”. Any future step should support Step 1.

    I’d suggest if someone says it took them 9 months to deploy, that wasn’t because the software was hard, or that it was hard to install, or because there were too many features. . . Jive SBS for us, so far has been a “no-manual required” tool for our enterprise. Instead, if someone is taking a long time to deploy, I suspect that’s because anything at enterprise scale is hard to do, and hard to do quickly with all the approvals, compliance and stakeholder work that needs to be done.

    I know how long it took to install Jive at CSC as I ran the pilot and the pilot-to-production project at CSC. I assure you the technology WASN’T the hard part. Heck, the adoption planning wasn’t the hard part either (although if you hear the CSC case study that I talk about I certainly will say adoption planning requires focus). Instead, the longest, hardest part was all the enterprise process for standing up a new application period (making the business case, running the compliance reviews and getting stakeholder reviews/approvals).

    In summary, CSC has had massive success with the tool. Why? Because it works the way our collaborative enterprise wants to work. We collaborate along solutions, accounts, technology topics, competencies, and so on. We have shut down two other systems and are doing every day work in our environment.

    If other companies haven’t gotten there yet, there may be a ton of other business reasons. But it certainly is not because the tool cannot support it in an easy to understand way for the enterprise worker.

    • Thanks for sharing Claire, I’d love to do an in-depth case study on CSC, I have an ongoing series. I have plenty of questions I can ask around this but for everyone’s benefit I’d prefer to write it up, let me know if you’re up for it and we can discuss some of these things in more depth.

  • Anonymous

    Great food for thought here, Jacob. You’ve drawn attention to what our team at INgage Networks witnesses time and again. Unfortunately, I can’t share publicly which global orgs elected our solution over Jive’s, but we do find on a day-to-day basis that the conversation is more than a feature-function debate. Perhaps our outlook is different because we’ve been in the social CRM, enterprise social, Gov 2.0 space since 1999 and have witnessed more than our very competent counterparts. But I will say that our perspective is poles apart in many respects–but it is always to our customers’ advantage. 😉

    • Guest

       There has been a big trend which I have seen where Jive have start loosing Fortune 100 clients. If they listen customer I think trend will continue.

      What I see in the comment section, each jive community manager jumping over other to praise about Jive. This does not solve the problem. Not everybody needs ferari and Jive needs to cater for that.

      I have been very disappointed in using Jive primarily based on the support we got. We have discontinued using it.

  • Jacob, thanks for your post and the invitation to comment. I think you hit the nail on the head with this, “One of the keys to success for organizations seeking to deploy these collaborative tools is ease of use, intuitiveness, and RELEVANT feature set.” I manage two Jive communities for my company: customer-facing and employee. The ease of use and intuitiveness of the Jive interface has been a key differentiator and benefit for us. The only training offered to our customer community were web documents (no videos or webinars). At launch time, the initial questions I received were around company product questions (i.e., intended content) and NOT ‘how do I use this thing?’

    The key to our success has been intense focus and attention to the specific activities that members are performing. This is where relevance comes in. If someone is coming to the community to look for an answer, then the activities he likely will be performing are 1) Search; and (if needed) 2) Start a new thread. Our page design, messaging and training materials all focused on these basic activities.

    The benefit of having more features than our initial focus is that the members extend their usage naturally, and in ways we may not have thought of. For example, we did not highlight video usage in our initial rollout. However, video capability is there, and both customers and employees have started producing and posting their own product tutorials – valuable business content that other can consume, comment on, rate, add to. A less robust solution may not have been able to support or facilitate this natural growth.

  • Thanks Jacob. To quickly echo Bart and Claire’s comments, I work for a Jive partner and we’ve been working with them for almost two years in several European territories. We use Jive SBS internally, alongside many of the other tools mentioned, and have wide experience selling leading collaboration and social business software going back at least ten years. I community manage our internal Jive users and client evaluations so I see users who get it ‘immediately’ – and the occasional user who takes a few minutes longer to catch-on – ten usually does it.

    We have a number of enterprise clients, three that I have been involved with, who have chosen Jive to meet their needs following serious consideration of a number of suite solutions. They made their choices for a number of compelling reasons including:

    – vendor breadth of vision and stability, underpinned by significant growth
    – appeals to both the business and IT (Jive’s recent customer survey speaks volumes for the benefits achieved)
    – a highly-intuitive user interface (with more great features in the pipeline)
    – able to be integrated with other enterprise applications such as ECM
    – a vibrant user community which, with Jive assistance, is helping set the pace for social business

    Clearly these clients all have their particular needs, but they all recognised that Jive was significantly ahead of the rest of the pack they considered. Each of these organizations also have a number of internal communities and each of these can use the features appropriate to them at get-go, with the client secure in the knowledge that other features can be easily switched on as necessary for each community.

    You seem to suggest that you view those organizations now deploying Jive as making ‘first decisions or deployments’ but these enterprises have actually been collaborating for years using face-to-face meetings, email, instant messaging, phone and other tools like SharePoint. They have seen those mechanisms not working adequately and are now reaching out for something significantly better even in these cost-conscious times. Many of our clients are choosing Jive for the reasons above, and I believe that their decisions are sound.

  • Great post Jacob – thanks for bringing up some of the hesitations and considerations many are feeling when selecting a vendor for a social business software solution. In full disclosure, I work for a Jive competitor, Acquia. We have a competitive SBS solution with Drupal Commons, and not only are we hearing many of the same frustrations as you mention above, but we are frequently working with organizations that are moving away from Jive onto Drupal Commons for those reasons. The consistent message we hear is that Jive is too expensive and the level of customizations required to meet their needs not only adds additional cost, but takes them out of the upgrade path that makes future versions of Jive a maddening upgrade process. To quote one customer, they felt like Jive “was locking me in and holding my data hostage.” In another instance, it was going to require 3,000 man-hours just to upgrade to the new version.

    Acquia addresses these concerns – with Drupal Commons being built with the 10-year old open source project Drupal. Open source means there are no software license fees – bringing the total cost to deploy community sites for organizations down significantly. While Drupal Commons comes out of the box with a similar set of features as Jive, turning features on or off can be as easy as un-checking a box. Keep the hammer in the toolbox until you’re done with the wrench, and then pull it out when you need it.

    While you can skim down your instance of Drupal Commons, if the full suite plus more flexibility and functionality is what you’re looking for, there are over 7,000 modules available from Drupal. Drupal is a full-scale CMS, so we see many clients launch their community sites with Drupal Commons, then expand to use Drupal as their enterprise web content management solution as well. One platform for social publishing and web content management for the enterprise – that’s the vision.

    Lastly, in regards to Jive helping drive the vision for the industry, while their team may do that for their product, the Drupal project community is over 10,000 strong. You get the benefit of the expertise of thousands to see what features are being developed and choose what you would like to leverage for your community.

    I agree with you Jacob that “organizations don’t know what they don’t know.” And many don’t know about the alternatives to Jive – like Drupal Commons.

  • I have my own comments, but first @Bart – excellent response and thank you. I’ve learned something by reading it.

    None of the positive reviewers mentions the timeframe/versions of Jive you’re talking about.

    Bart/Claire, iI wonder what your “people” costs were on deploying and owning a Jive solution vs something like Drupal Commons or a self-hosted “cloud” of WordPress or Drupal?

    Do you have big teams on this project, or small teams?

    I would think Jive would work with a big team and considering your points, may be good for very large organizations (you are both with very large companies). But with a small team for deployment/support of the Jive solution, Jive wouldn’t be able to compete with the OpenSource stuff.

    Bart – you say you have 200,000 employees. Claire – Wikipedia says you have 94,000 employees. I’m not sure this sized organization is representative. In fact, you may be a niche that’s Jive’s optimal market relative to OpenSourced solutions (Drupal/WordPress).

    In comparison a company that has 2000 – 10000 is tiny, and the teams/people who can work on this stuff have to be more efficient. My old company was about 1500 people, and had 3-5 people full time and a bunch of people part-time involved in the Jive implementation.

    I worked for a company that tried 3 times to deploy Jive. By the 3rd time they got it (sort of), but the solution was weak and difficult to use. It never really integrated with our single-sign-on (we had LDAP and Microsoft). We also had a heck of a time porting between Jive versions/products each time Jive upgraded.

    There were many many problems that were never solved (like full-text searching within zip files attached to documents), or flexibility in the UI for creating robust documents (like slideshare or blogging software).

    Simply put… IT TOOK WAY TO MANY CLICKS TO DO EVERYTHING. Usability was not nearly that of Facebook, or WordPress/Drupal sites I’ve used for other stuff. And, it didn’t integrate with any of the things we used to develop software within the company.

    There was also seemingly no easy to way to distribute analytics specifically to what product managers needed to know (Product Managers were content creators… and only cared about the content tagged to their product and how it was used).

    Curating content for multiple audiences was highly problematic. Integrating Jive with our development systems to create a community dashboard was challenging, and broke on every Jive upgrade.

    I think part of the problem was a lack of vision and execution on the part of my company, but it seemed that the answer from Jive every 9 months for two years was “you need the next version/product”.

    The comments about buying “big” software “just in case” reminds me of a post I wrote 4 or so years ago about how companies buy software using my mother’s influence on me to buy big clothes so that I could grow into them as an analogy. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, and written from a vendor’s perspective. I hope you enjoy it:

    And to all commenters, thanks for not bringing up SharePoint.

    David Bressler

    • @David, Let me answer your questions and address the issues you raised.

      One businss unit started with ClearSpace at the end of 2008 and then upgraded to some other version before we made the choice for Jive at the group level. We began with 4.3 and easily upgraded the Pilot site to 4.3, but did have trouble migrating their content to our corporate platform. This took about one month elapsed with 1 FTE overall. We launched the corporate site in October 2010.

      Before choosing Jive, I looked at a lot of solutions, and my going-in position was to choose open source. But when I looked at the market in 2009, the offering from Drupal, Buddy Press, elgg just didn’t cut it. They looked good and easy on the promotions web page, but after using them for five minutes, it was clear that there was no way these tools would support 100 people let alone 100 000. (we have 200 000 employees only half of them use IT). We had consultants propose to extend these products to make them “like Jive” and the cost was to high. Plus, it left me owning the vision for where we would take the toolset. We use Drupal for our corporate web site and frankly, I am far happier with Jive. The acquia toolset was young when we looked at it. I’m sure it’s better now, and I’m sure that open source will become a serious competitor to Jive. But as I said in a blog post recently, this is about moving and learning fast. I don’t want to struggle with the tool, or wait for new features. I want to be pulled forward by the vendor.

      Regarding organizational size, as I said our pilot business unit started with 400 employees, quickly moved to 800 and are now at 1600. Jive has worked for them at every level. We are now scaling it for our 100 000 (and are currently at about 3000). There are challenges in making it work for 100 000. The All view simply is not useful, and this is one of the reasons that Jive is building What Matters in Jive 5. But by correctly configuring the default configuration of the Personal View, it is easy for new users to focus on the groups, people, and topics of interest to them.

      You talk about technical integration problems. For context, I run all of the cross-business communication and collaboration services at our company, including the public web site, intranet Portal, our video platform, two Document Management Systems, the corporate Directory, Enterprise Search, Instant Messaging, and our Single Sign-on solution. . All of them present integration problems, and the Job of IT is to do as little integration as necessary, and to do well whatever integration you do implement. Our SSO solution (the open source CAS) has been a charm. Our Portal has been a nightmare. Alfresco compared another major DMS has been much easier, but not without challenges. And when I compare Jive to those other packages, I am very happy with the result. But we have chosen to keep integration and customization to a minimum. We did SSO and LDAP. We then Integrated our two DMSs as a widget with no integration to the Jive platform. we simply give group members access to the DMS, and they can start a conversation around the document URL.

      From what you describe, it sounds like you are trying to do too much integration.

      Too many clicks? Poor analytics? Weak search? I don’t necessarily share these views. All I know is that our users love Jive.

      By the way, follow @TedHopton and his community on Jive communities if you want to really understand analytics.

      • Gunther Schnitzel

        Would I be right in saying that no one here other than the dissenters are doing significant customisations / integration.

        • That’s a loaded question. With any solution a company decides upon, the company must make a customization trade-off decisions that matches one’s goals and criteria.

          Our company has been in situations with past solutions where we customized the product so much that we forced ourselves into our own hole. Why? Because we customized the solution so much that it made both upgrades and product support.

          We have learned to be very judicious on customizing any platform so that we can be flexible and fluid in taking upgrades and staying true to the product for great support.

          Back to one of the points I made above – companies must understand their goals, create a good evaluation criteria that meets those goals and make decisions that support their goals and criteria. At all times, there are always decisions a business will make that will have trade-offs.

          In our case, we feel we selected a product that met almost all of our requirements, is innovative and has kept excellent pace with new market features. We decided to install and keep the solution as out of the box as possible. After two years on our platform our decision has proven to be a good one for us. We’ve been able to take frequent releases, we’ve integrated only lightly (with our SSO) and we’ve been able to provide more value over time to our users because we’ve been able to upgrade more frequently at lower costs. Our decision was unique to our business. Not every company will make the same decisions we did.

    • @David – I come from a small company also. We’re a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel, but we are completely separate from them. We’re using Jive 4.5 right now, and the total “people time” investment for our internal/external implementation is about 25% of my time, and 50% of an individual contributor’s time (she manages relationships with some of our large customers as the other 50% of her time).

      Regarding open source platforms – we’ve looked at those, but there’s nothing we’ve found (yet) that offers the same breadth of features. I’m not saying that as a shill for Jive, but rather as the business owner of our internal/external community strategy, and someone who wanted to pick the best tool (or tool suite) for the job…

    • Hi David,

      Regarding timeframe — it was effortless to get Jive physically turned on and working. We’re hosted by Jive and it was so simple and short a timeframe that I can’t even recall exactly how long it was nearly three years ago, but it was measured in days, not even weeks.

      We started with version 2.0, moved to 2.5 and are currently on 4.5, and we run the out of the box version because we don’t want any pain associated with upgrading customizations of our own.

      Besides, for the first year I was the sole FTE supporting the site, and not primarily in a technical role, either — my mission was community management, with the sys admin role on the side. Worked pretty well until we scaled up close to 5000 users, and then we doubled our support team by hiring a sys admin (who actually does a lot of community management roles because sys admin for a Jive hosted solution is not truly a fulltime role it turns out, at least not for our 6000 user instance).

      So, fast and simple to deploy and minimal deployment and support costs.

      Regarding analytics, I’m not in love with what Jive offers, but I can get a lot of good data from the SAP Business Objects solution Jive offers plus what I get from Omniture. It’s invaluable to running our community, but I’ve told the folks at Jive loud and clear that they need to do better. I’m eagerly awaiting the reporting and analytics improvements that their taskforce is developing. I’m pleased that they have been listening and taking this need seriously, and appreciate the way they welcome customer input.

  • Amy

    I really like this post. Just over a year ago we selected Jive, and I have to admit we are struggling. Maybe our employee base is too traditional, but there has been a backlash against Jive from our management, claiming they only see employees using it for “frivolous” discussions, not the promised business value. I would like to see something more targeted to our needs on the business side (retail) and not generic capabilities. The folks at Jive have been really nice, but I don’t feel like they understand our frustrations, and simply tell us we need to work harder at adoption. Maybe they need to work harder at listening to what we are saying.

    • Hi Amy, I’m a strategic advisor at Jive Software. Can you contact me at gia (dot) lyons (at)

    • Amy. Do contact Gia as I know she can help you. When I hear you say “there has been a backlash against Jive from our management, claiming they only see employees using it for “frivolous” discussions” it’s clear to me that the hard preparation work with management hasn’t been completed. As I and others have said, THAT is the hard part, and even with hard work, you can fail or get it wrong. AND the right approach is very specific to your company. You can’t just take “best practices” that you hear at conferences or read on the web and apply them verbatim. THAT is rule #1.

    • Amy, I’m sure your struggle is frustrating. Bart makes a good point that there may be more work to be done in terms of “selling” management and providing a good business case. Regarding “frivolous discussions” – I’m advocating the 80/20 rule internally. If 80% of our postings/traffic is business-related activity and 20% is social (what someone did this weekend, pictures of their 4th grader’s art project…), that’s fine. It helps bring people back to your collaboration portal, and it encourages employees to get to know one another on a deeper level.

      I would also point out that your struggles likely have little to do with the choice of tool/vendor. I’d submit that you would face the same hurdles whether you chose Jive, or another commercial vendor, or an open-source platform…

    • Very interesting Amy, I’m sure your organization isn’t the only one going through these types of challenges and executive backlash. You answered your question when you said you need something more tailored for your industry (retail). Again, I don’t know about what is going in your company to say whether or not Jive is a good fit. But no sense trying to fit a circle into a square!

    • Amy, your complaint falls into the category of community management, not technology, based on the little bit you posted. Getting people to get value from social technology — any platform — requires real, hard work.

      I’m a community manager for our company’s internal Jive community and it’s been my full-time role to ensure we get value from our community since we launched our pilot nearly three years ago. I can’t imagine we would have had the success that we’ve seen if we had simply installed the technology and not supported it with the community management role. In fact, we’ve seen a strong correlation between divisions that have engaged local community managers and those that are getting the most value from using Jive.

      It’s not so much about how to use the technology as it is about how to take advantage of the opportunities the technology provides to work differently: connecting, communicating and collaborating much more than we ever did or could before.

    • Hi Amy,
      Would you like to set up some time to talk about your community? You can tweet @elimccargar or get in touch on our public community

  • In God I trust, all others bring data… So apart from competitor gossip, a story of a 9 month rollout (and that’s not that long in the E2.0 world as anyone who has worked there knows) and the very well publicised Penn State case study, what data is this based on? Are there case studies to reference?

  • Previous comments by many have covered the case for a product suite like Jive or deploying a social business software solution.

    Jacob, I believe the difficulty can be shifting from an easy to see paradigm, such as your mention of Twitter and Facebook, and translating that public platform thinking to that of an enterprise solution. Enterprise technology solutions over the past dozen years have failed to fulfill their promise, especially as it applies to communication and collaboration. We’ve improved much in the way of process and gotten rid of a great deal of paper. Todays technology, such as Jive, permits a next level of organizational improvement. One that impacts culture, ideology and a much improved workflow. I don’t believe that large organizations overlook tearing down walls for long term competitive advantage and short term ROI (proven $1M + cost reduction AND/OR revenue increase). It must however, be done with real strategy, road-map planning and change management to win the hearts and minds of your employees and customers enough to be successful.

  • It seems the successful Jive case studies are all run by excellent teams and followed a robust strategy, road map and vendor selection that involved end users and mapped against business and technical requirements.

    Having seen Jive version 5 I can only conclude that if it’s simplicity that’s key to social business tool adoption, as you argue here, this will no longer be a problem. It’s extremely intuitive. Even a CEO could use it.

    • I love the concept, “So easy even a CEO could use it.” The strategy piece if definitely important but in a study put out 2 years ago the results showed that a bulk of the investment was made on the technology while strategy ranked #7 on the list!

      • You don’t need to spend a lot on strategy. A few weeks of consulting time focusing on the “why we’re doing this” part and a good business and technology road map will uncover a deeper sense of purpose and lower the risk of failure.

        I wonder if @Amy’s company spent any time on strategy before deploying Jive?

        • Hi Mark,

          Agree, it doesn’t really matter how much you spend on strategy but there are definitely things that need to be considered. We’ll be releasing a social business framework next week which will address some of these elements, change management for example is something that definitely needs to be considered, more than just a roadmap. Managing user feedback is another one.

          • We’re definitely a proponent of using change management effectively to win the hearts and minds of all involved. We have some top notch change experts here at C7 with some great experience. Can’t wait to see your framework.

        • Mark, I agree, I was thinking something similar as I read a lot of the replies here . . . many of whom I agree with.

          – You can deploy the best, easiest tool to use, but fail if you don’t plan well.
          – You can deploy the best, easiest tool to use, but still fail if you over-complicate the installation or customize it so much that you loose the ability to quickly scale, upgrade or change.Or make it so complicated workers don’t get the benefits.
          – You can deploy the most complex, hardest to use system, but succeed if you plan well.

          So, I agree with you Mark, it’s key to have a strategy for supporting the tool. If you fail to invest in this part as well, your effort will surely fail or will not reap that greatest benefits.

          These tools are asking our workers to change the way in which they work, and the transparency with which they do that work. It is shifting business and leadership culture in ways enterprises have not seen in the past. It’s new. It’s scary. And it’s hard. And the part that’s hard is NOT the technology. The part that’s hard is the culture, the behaviors, the new skills we want workers to have innately.

          So truly, the EASIEST part is installing the tool (whether it be Jive or any other tool for that matter).
          But the HARDEST (or rather where the real work begins) part is in having clear goals, a clear strategy, an organization change plan to support that strategy and the clear support of key, influential stakeholders.

  • Jacob-

    This post resonates strongly with my recent thoughts on the “collaboration suite”, and my reactions to the research I have done comparing different vendors. I work for Blogtronix, which was one of the first companies to build a collaboration suite. We are currently focusing our development on ease of use, and integrations, as opposed to continuing to add features. I believe that the inability to “do everything in one place”, as it were, is not a function of the immaturity of the industry, but rather a product of the complexity and individuality of human organizations. Every business, even within an industry, is run differently and favors different tools because they are run by different people. In a large company especially, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to adopt a single “suite” to replace the dedicated systems they are accustomed to. Instead, we believe that a collaboration platform should be a minimalist social layer, connecting the organization’s unique set of existing systems and the people that use them. Obviously adoption is paramount to success, and minimal disruption is paramount to adoption. This is why Blogtronix has focused on developing the best microblogging, groups, and profiles, and is using API to develop integration with external systems. Blogtronix also delivers this functionality at a remarkably low price.

    Great to see thoughtful writing like this, Jacob, and I look forward to more of the same.

    Thank you,

    Eli McCargar

  • Donald

    JIVE = Just In, Very Expensive

  • I have seen two Jive deployments in companies with 10,000+ people, and in both cases, most of what was deployed were pretty sparsely used. 90% of the activity tended to cluster around just 2 or 3 features. Particularly interesting was the interplay between the Jive forums and email – questions asked on the forum would be distributed by email, and would be answered over email, and the Jive forum would just be used as an archive.

    From what I have seen, Evolution probably would have been a better approach than Revolution. In both the instances, Jive was self-hosted, and costed a fair bit of money to buy and maintain. I believe Jive was bought, as you mention, for “Insurance”. 

    It all breaks the web2.0 tenet of software having to make sense to end users first and to purchase decision makers later, IMHO.

    • Hi Niraj,

      Thanks for the comment.  Interesting use of Jive there.  I obviously don’t know much about the deployments you are describing but it certainly sounds like in this case Jive was deployed without a real clear sense of purpose around it.  One of the vendor traps I discuss in my upcoming book is around working with vendors just because they are partners that can offer a discount on the product so it’s interesting that you mention that in your last sentence.

      Thanks again!

  • Dale

    Interesting, the long and comprehensive I posted here last spring is gone. I guess I’ll just post another.

    In a nutshell – I had been part of a team that helped with reviewing vendors for one of my clients. Jive was chosen and has so far failed miserably. Not more than three of the 1000+ employee company have posted six months after roll out. Prior to launch and all during demo reviews I kept asking the Jive team to explain how they help with uptake which made them very uncomfortable – it’s obviously a sore spot with this type of software.

    Uptake is the biggest issue and it’s not just a Jive issue. The “social” nature required for the success of social tools is simply not a good fit for the 2012 workplace. People don’t want to put themselves out there in permanent text for the entire company to see. They consider it, hesitate and decide not to post. The type of narcissism re-branded as transparency that works on personal social media sites does not fly in a professional environment.

    Try some usability studies on actual employees before you buy.

    • Not sure why it would be removed. The only posts I remove are spam or inappropriate comments. Thanks for sharing this again though, it’s good for all to see.