If you’ve spent any time on any social network or microblogging platform anywhere, you know as well as I do that there is one request that tends to crop up far more than any other: “I wish we could have groups.”
Point being, everyone starts with what I’m—or you’re—doing and then tries to wedge that content into a group. What if, instead, we started with the topic as the central focus? I mean, instead of the user. Well, now you can give that idea a try. With Simler. Read More
I know, I know. It seems like I’m falling into a bit of Jive fanboi-ism. But man oh man, if these folks aren’t rolling out one impressive announcement after another these days. And in a day and age where we continue to get doom and gloom about the economy and business prospects, these Jive announcements are like a little ray of sunshine.
[HTML2]Now, you may not realize this, but during my day job I’m constantly sifting through media reports. Gargantuan PDFs or documents that contain a series of clipped links and snippets about specific clients or subjects. The reports are unwieldy at best. And I can only imagine what kind of workload this effort creates for the agencies that compile them for me—and any number of other clients—on a daily basis.
Long story short, the whole “tracking media coverage” thing—whether for PR firms or otherwise—could use some help. And don’t even get me started on the whole social media angle.
Now, I realize that not everyone manages multiple social bookmark accounts. But I know some of you do. You’ve got two or three Delicious accounts. Maybe one for personal stuff and one for the blog. Or maybe you had to add another account when you resurrected your Ma.gnolia links. Whatever the case, managing those multiple accounts can get to be a bit of a headache.
And even if you don’t have multiple accounts, there are issues. Like having tons of bookmarks through which to search. Surely that could be made a tad easier?
No Portland-based startup stands a better chance of making a run at the fabled “Enterprise customer” than Jive Software, makers of Social Business Software that helps large companies do a better job of collaborating internally and with customers. Now they’ve partnered with SAP.
Portland-based Jive Software has been relatively quiet as of late. And that generally leads me to assume that they’re working on something new, but I didn’t really have much to go on as to what that might be.
Today, it all became much less clear. (Pun intended.)
Jive has announced that—for their newest release—they have abandoned the distinct Clearspace products in favor of launching a suite of tools entitled “Social Business Software.” And I’m sure it’s no accident that it just happens to be “version 3.0.”
For our customers, SBS is the new enterprise category. The enterprise has been devoid of a new application category since CRM, and they see the advent of social software as the biggest change to happen to the enterprise in fifteen years. It’s now spanning every major vertical and the visionary leaders are seeing the gains that can be made by opening up collaboration and focusing on the people. This is especially true in a downturn, where throwing more money at business process software is not going to lead to huge value increases — you have to look to the areas where there is the most to gain, the white spaces in a company: the people.
Few companies have had the foresight of Jive to understand that—due to both external and internal forces—corporations would be dragged kicking and screaming into becoming much more social beings. This gives them an edge on insight, but they still have several goliath competitors with whom they compete, namely Microsoft and IBM.
Now, Jive is hoping to deliver the platform that helps enable this growing corporate predilection toward more social business management.
How is the market reacting to the news?
While there hasn’t been much from the enterprise-focused pubs yet, the tech blogs have taken a gander at Jive’s Social Business Software. Here’s what they had to say:
“With the downturn, you might assume that Jive was part of a fad that has passed…. But after talking to Chief Marketing Officer Lawrence, it sounds like that would be a mistake—Jive added 200 customers last year, bringing its total to more than 2,500, and many of those newer customers are paying for more expensive tools, so its revenue actually grew 70 percent. In fact, Lawrence says Jive is hiring. And a recent report from Forrester identified Jive and Telligent as the leaders in the ‘community platforms’ market.”
“Modeled to offer Facebook-like features to enterprises, the software combines computing with social collaboration. The Clearspace app helps businesses hold collaborate on a variety of tasks, including holding discussions, sharing documents, blogging, running polls, and social networking features and more. The Clearspace Community app provides a platform that allows businesses to communicate effectively with customers and the broader community.”
“‘Enterprise software has been a boring category for 20 years, and Jive is here to change that,’ says Sam Lawrence, Jive’s chief marketing officer.
“You’d expect to hear something like that from an experienced marketer like Lawrence. Yet in this case, he is talking about a bold strategic move by a small company that has its sights set on becoming something like Facebook for the office, putting it on a competitive collision course with Microsoft, IBM, and a slew of startups that aim to help employees get better at collaborating. Jive has evolved to this point from its founding in 2001, before the days of social networking. Its early forays into social software involved online forums and instant messaging, and were focused on support— things like getting customers to help each other rather than call a company with time-consuming questions.”
“IBM’s Lotus Connections, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other players are approaching enterprise social-networking, but Jive Software wants to take some market-share of its own with its Social Business Software (SBS) platform. Jive claims that its software’s collaboration and profile features could make it ‘Facebook for the enterprise.'”
“I’m not sure you can announce your leadership in a category, but that’s what Jive has done with the announcement of its Social Business Software application suite—Jive SBS 3.0. The product does bring a deliberate focus to the logical organizational interests of a social enterprise– namely, Employee Engagement, Marketing & Sales, Customer Support, and Innovation. With that segmentation, along with an overhaul of its Jive Clearspace 2.5 released last summer, the software has been reborn—perhaps in the original image of its founders, according to Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer. With this new release, Jive is stridently targeting IBM and Microsoft customers with what could prove to be a superior solution.”
“From origins as a forums and instant messenger vendor, Jive launched ‘Clearspace‘, a single application with wikis, blog, discussions, instant messaging, rss, email integration and files into spaces organized by topic in 2006. This in turn morphed into internal (’Clearspace’) and external (’Clearspace Community’) focused versions.
Jive have now taken the industry segment phrase to rename Clearspace ‘Social Business Software’ (SBS), and are making a play as an enterprise class, company wide backbone for all facets of business collaboration.”
“The concept is fascinating — Jive’s software uses a social networking interface to draw in and connect a company’s employees with one another, and with customers. At first blush it looks like Facebook, a format Jive hopes will help engage companies’ younger employees….
“Dave and the folks who started Jive, Bill Lynch and Matt Tucker, had lots of other thoughtful things to say about Jive’s outlook and Portland’s startup scene. I’ll have more on that, and more from them, in an upcoming article.”
Jive will be rolling out the new Social Business Software suite next week—but existing customer already have access. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception this latest iteration of Jive’s tools receives. Here’s hoping they get a positive response from both current customers and those potential customers waiting in the wings.
[Full disclosure: Iterasi is a client of mine. I was aware of this feature under development, but I was not involved in this release. Quite frankly, it took me by surprise. But it makes sense that they’re pushing it while they’re down at the TechCrunch 50.]
Okay. That may be a little hyperbolic, but there’s a lot of truth to that.
With social bookmarking, I was able to save site locations, tag them in a meaningful way, and get to them from any browser with an Internet connection.
It may not seem like a big deal now. But back then? It was “You mean my bookmarks aren’t beholden to this one browser on this one machine? Oh my. Very cool.”
But my bookmarks always suffered from a problem that I couldn’t solve with just a link.
And that was? Well, sometimes the page just changed. The story or the thing I thought was important or—worst of all—the cool design that I wanted to rip-off save for inspiration.
Screenshots were a workaround. But they were never really what I wanted.
What I wanted was to save the page.
Fast forward to today.
I’m sitting on a ton of bookmarks. I use social bookmarking sites like ma.gnolia and del.icio.us every day, if not several times a day. They have become so much a part of the way that I use the Web—and the way that I share and glean information from others—that social bookmarking would be an incredibly hard habit to break.
But I still worry about losing the page I actually wanted.
Well, now, that problem is solved thanks to still just barely Vancouver-based and ever-so-close to being Portland-based Iterasi and their new “import bookmarks” feature:
This feature imports bookmarks from Firefox, Internet Explorer, del.icio.us and/or from any app that exports to the standard bookmark export format. So you tell it where your bookmarks are, we import them and make permanent copies of the pages the bookmarks point to. No more lost articles. No more link rot. No more Error 404s. But we don’t just import them. Import Bookmarks is built on top of the iterasi Scheduler – released last month – so one-by-one you can choose to archive each bookmark once, every day, week or month, or not a all.
Now, granted, that’s not going to do much for the links that have already aged. But from now on? I can be sure that I’ll have exactly the page I wanted to save.
Saving bookmarked pages in Iterasi is great, but not using Iterasi is even better
As excited as I am about this feature to extend the use of Iterasi, there’s one thing I’m even more excited about: not having to use Iterasi.
Huh? Stick with me here.
I’ve developed a workflow for saving links and—as chagrin as I am to admit it—Iterasi isn’t part of that workflow.
It’s an afterthought. A habit I’m trying to force.
But with this feature? That problem is solved, too.
Now that Iterasi can import bookmarks, I can work in my preferred social bookmarking tool and still have Iterasi saving the pages for me.
I can fly around willy nilly tagging things in del.icio.us or saving them to the Silicon Florist group on ma.gnolia. All the while, knowing that I can bring those over to Iterasi to make an archived copy.
And that’s pretty cool.
I can work where I’m comfortable working without losing the ability to save things I really want to save. And that makes this new import bookmarks feature very powerful indeed.
The feature, however, does come with a caveat:
If you have lots of bookmarks, it is best to schedule it to run when you are away from your computer. Think about it; we are feeding dozens and dozens of bookmarks down to the browser who is one-at-a-time loading, notarizing, and shipping each up to your account. In other words, we are torturing the poor browser. As you might expect, the browser can lock up under this kind of load. We find this situation to be unavoidable.
I know. I know. You read the headline and let out an exasperated sigh. Another one? Seriously? But stick with me for a minute or two. Because I honestly think Portland-based Zloop has got something interesting happening.
Zloop helps anyone—and I literally mean anyone—create small social networks. They call them “loops.” And they can be about something extremely limited, like my family, or something larger, like Portland startups. These loops can be created on the fly. And you can belong to as many or as few loops as you like. You can manage multiple profiles, like a personal one, a business one, full details, limited details…
Again, I realize this sounds pretty standard.
But Zloop makes small social network creation so easy that even the ungeekiest person you know could use it. I’m not talking about your coworkers. I’m talking about your parents, your grandparents, your kids. Anyone. It’s like the—and I mean this in only the most positive way possible—the AOL of social network creation.
In fact—like AOL—it, quite simply, may be too easy and seemingly constricted for you to have any interest in it. And that, my friend, is the sheer genius of it.
This isn’t for you and me. You and I can go geek out on Ning or some other existing social network. We can jump on Drupal or slap some Django components together and bang one out. We don’t need simple tools like this.
And that is exactly the point. This is for the other 99.9% of the population. And that’s what I think makes it interesting.
So simple, I’m confused
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Brett Meyers, the community evangelist for Zloop, to talk about their solution and where they were hoping to go with it.
“So how do I find new friends via the interface?” I asked.
“You don’t,” Brett replied.
“So, if I want to join a bunch of different groups…”
“You don’t really do that here.”
“Can I get an RSS feed off of this?”
So there I am, sitting there with a confused look on my face. I mean, in terms of Web 2.0 social networking functionality, Zloop wasn’t pushing the envelope. They weren’t even bringing the common, roll-your-own feature set. What they were bringing to the table was, to my Web 2.0 addled brain, boring.
“But… hmm. What about… um,” I said, continuing to struggle.
And that’s when it hit me: some people—arguably the majority of the human race—form “social networks” in an entirely different way than the infinitesimal segment of us Web 2.0-focused geeks do. In real life, it seems, these social networks are actually formed in person.
No, I’m serious.
It seems that there are any number of groups—schools, churches, businesses—where people actually meet and get to know each other in person before they ever think about interacting with one another online.
Weird. But to each his or her own.
And that market—that gigantically broad market—is the group whom Zloop hopes to serve. Or as Brett put it, “We want to provide something that helps strengthen the communities that are already happening in real life.”
Zloop, with their inherent simplicity, their gentle and thoughtful AJAX transitions, and their “just enough” functionality, have some thing very interesting to offer. And that is Zloop’s genius.
Just like a Basecamp or a Twitter, Zloop—at first blush—is both incredibly difficult to explain and seemingly surreptitiously lacking some sort of whiz-bang that would make it of any use whatsoever.
And that’s why I think they’ve got something here. Something simple. Something pared down. Something straightforward. Something for a specific use that applies to a very, very large segment of the population.
Is it cutting edge? Absolutely not. Is it entirely unique? Not by a long shot. Does it have a chance? If they play their cards right, I think it does. A very good one.