I'm so excited that Jive is entering 2010 with the acquisition of Filtrbox to accelerate our social strategy. This acquisition is about real time monitoring and engagement to help enterprises be PROACTIVE AND REACTIVE, moving social media monitoring (SMM) and listening platforms beyond their limited scope of managing brand disruptions. SMM is useful technology, but when social media monitoring is seamlessly unified with Jive SBS something wonderful happens.

 

Leading up to today:

In January of 2009 Forrester published a report titled The Listening Platform Landscape followed up immediately with The Forrester Wave: Listening Platforms, Q1 2009. In many ways these reports were a much needed recognition that times were changing.  Forrester observed that the age of Brand Monitoring was over saying, “If marketers are to survive and thrive in this connected world, they must mine—not just monitor—these conversations to glean insights that inform future strategy.”  With the benefit of another year behind us it is clear Forrester was right about the death of Brand Monitoring, but the last year has taught us that the vision of Listening Platforms needs to be broader than this.

 

Mining of conversations and sentiment by marketers ultimately has the same fatal flaw as the Brand Monitoring tools—it is too abstracted and isolated from any kind of true action. It's really no different from the mindset that watched customers talk to each other from behind a one way mirror – they took notes, they formed judgments, they wrote reports, but they never entered into the dialogue.  Real customer insights come from conversation, not observation. I feel the most damning evidence that the thinking has not progressed far enough here is that the Forrester Wave™: Brand Monitoring, Q3 2006 looks remarkably similar to the Listening Platform Wave of 2009—as represented, this is at best an evolution, not a revolution.

 

A new era:

The real opportunity is not about mining, but engagement.  And it is not just for marketing or the CMO, but for anyone at any company who wants to be closer to their customers.  2009 has been a great year for examples of how companies are starting to realize the potential of this technology.  Engineering, Products, Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, and even corporate executives have taken advantage of the chance to enter into an open dialogue. Their handling of praise and criticism entered into the annals of the internet for the judgment of every future person who considers doing business with them.

 

As Jive contemplated how to best empower our own customers to take advantage of this technology we came to a few immediate conclusions:

 

  1. Ubiquity. Access to the customer needs to be available throughout a company—not just the domain of marketing. This means the solution needs to be affordable, easy to use, and not discourage its adoption by charging more when employees want to keep an eye on additional areas of interest.
  2. Be Here Now. So many vendors in this space are distracted with accumulating massive histories for “mining” customer sentiment. We believe the bigger priority is around managing influencers and lightning rod events. Identifying these immediately and responding authentically should be the priorities.  In the real time web what happened a year ago, while interesting, is largely irrelevant.  You are being judged on how you handle your evangelists and critics today.
  3. Engagement. So much energy is being put into listening. But other than crude workflow and email tools, little is being done to facilitate a real conversation.  There are two critical components in my mind: 1) You need to be able to get the right information to the right people quickly, whether you know who they are or not; and 2) You need to be able to respond in the same context in which the conversation is taking place while it is taking place. It doesn't matter whether it is happening on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, a blog, or somewhere else.

 

It is for these reasons that Jive selected Filtrbox to be an integral component of our Social Business Software (SBS) platform.  They are thinking about the same things we are: How can companies engage with a customer to provide them the experience that they want?  Their technology focuses on being affordable enough to put in the hands of an entire company who can all be engaging on different topics; easy enough to use that you don't need legions of services to get up and running; and most importantly focused on engaging in the conversation that is happening now where it is happening.

 

I'm thrilled for what our combined forces will enable Jive to do for its customer base. A socially connected workforce means nothing if it is not connected to the customers it serves. It is time for enterprise software vendors to help companies provide experiences for customers that make them feel valued, important, and heard.