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13 Posts authored by: christopher

Technology by itself is not going to be enough to make a workforce more productive -- it requires a clear line of site to business value.

 

Let's start by looking at the state of business today: businesses have developed and implemented over-engineered, automated processes.  And in the quest to create productivity, we now have the 24 hr workday.

 

We need to figure out how to go on this "productivity" quest, but in a fundamentally different direction. Looking back at the last 60 years, we have been cranking 100% growth in productivity every two decades. The punchline is that we have now reached a point where it is just not working. There isn't an option not to be more productive. Industry opportunity and competition drive a treadmill dynamic that is always accelerating. We streamlined process and then over-engineered it. We automated as many things as we could. We even gave up our personal time, our vacations, and our weekends on all the quest to keep up. Ultimately, we need a fundamentally new approach to the problem.According to McKinsey, 28 hours of every work week are spent on sorting emails and finding the information needed to do our job.

 

The question remains: How do we get workers to an even higher level productivity? I elaborate on the answer in this deck.


Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 3.15.17 PM.png

 

To get this presentation on demand, you can access the recording here.

 

Have you implemented social business software? What changes have you experienced in the way you work?

HiRes.jpegLeading analyst firm Gartner named Jive a Social Software and CRM Leader in the 2012 Magic Quadrant Reports.

 

We could not have achieved this milestone without YOU - our customers, partners and employees who are helping us drive the new way to business. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to our success. We look forward to stepping it up to an even bigger level as we continue to improve our products and services to help you grow your business.

 

Here are some of the details behind this achievement:

 

We are a Leader in the two Gartner Magic Quadrants covering the social business software market:  Social Software in the Workplace and Social CRM. (For those of you paying close attention the Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software has been collapsed into Social Software in the Workplace). Gartner positions vendors in the "Leaders" quadrant based on completeness of vision and their ability to execute on that vision.


Complimentary copies of these reports can be downloaded.

 

We feel this recognition from Gartner is a testament of the strength and leadership of our social business platform. And we are just getting started. We are constantly looking at every aspect of our business and will continue to innovate and invest in creating the best products in the market. Just as consumer social technologies are changing the way we live, Jive is building social business software to transform the way we work.  I look forward to sharing our future visions with you at JiveWorld12.

new-way-community-header.pngGartner just released its 2010 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace. I thought I’d take the opportunity to comment on the state of the market from the Jive perspective. I guess to get it out of the way I’ll answer the question, “How do we feel about the latest quadrant?” Thrilled. Jive is honored to be recognized as a pure play leader in the Social Business space giving the industry juggernaut a run for their money. Everyone loves a good David & Goliath story, and we’re bent on assuring there is no change to the ending.

 

This MQ is interesting from my perspective because it showed Gartner raising the bar for inclusion and amp’ing up their criteria. I particularly felt this dynamic because there was never a year when Jive showed, we believe, more leadership in the market than 2010. At a time when larger vendors felt it was safe to wade into the market, and open source vendors were optimistically hoping for the end of innovation in this space, we raised the bar with a very aggressive agenda for 2011. What Matters: The next generation user experience for social business software.  Not just what you need to know, but communication and action. We’re introducing social graph based filtration & recommendation to make the challenge of staying on top of your business effortless. We’ve recognized that the communication technologies we’ve been given in the enterprise are literally decades old, and laid down the foundation for what we hope will be the way you manage all of your communication in the future. And finally, we’ve taken the antiquated idea of “Tasks” and turned them into “Actions”. Modern standards have made it possible to pull other systems inside of Jive so that you can view, assess, and make a decision without leaving the interface. In a time where the requirements to handle more communication & information seem to be increasing for every role, we feel it is time to invest in a modern UX to address the challenge.

 

Finally, we’ll be rolling out Jive  Apps Market. Why? Because open systems always win. We think the opportunity here is to give our customers a new way to work. Jive can’t possibly execute on this opportunity alone—it’s too big. But with the strength of our partners we know we can bring about the transformative revolution that has already swept the consumer space.  We want every enterprise employee to be delighted by our software and revel in what they are able to accomplish.

 

So, what do I think about this year’s iteration of the Gartner MQ?  I think largely they got it right. I also applaud them for taking the wildly unpopular tactic of raising the bar.  They recognized that while this market has moved more quickly than almost any enterprise space before it, we are not across the chasm yet—our best days are in front of us. This quadrant deserved stricter criteria, dropped vendors, excluded vendors, and everyone facing a higher bar for execution and vision.  I view it as the new criteria against which we will all be measured. I’m not concerned about Jive’s ability to rise to the challenge. I think with the delivery of Jive 5 in Q1, our continued expansion in Europe, and our growing partner channel that you are only getting a taste of what is ahead.  We feel fortunate to participate in this phenomenon that is the social revolution. We see a new way to work, and we can help those who join us in embracing it to the benefit of their employees, customers, and shareholders.  We continue to feel the burden and distinction of being an independent leader completely focused on this space—but, we won’t let you, our customers or our future customers, down.

As I mentioned in my first post about Jive What Matters, the second big piece of our recent announcements is Jive Apps Market. Jive Apps Market represents a significant breakthrough in how we'll be able to interact with business organizations.  Jive Apps Market will function as a gallery of apps, tailored for various industries or business functions.  Business users will be able to select and adopt the most innovative and easy to use apps.

 

 

The Lost Decade

 

Tony Uphoff, TechWeb CEO (and one of Jive's premiere customers) calls the last 10 years in technology "the lost decade."  Why? Because, let's face it, traditional enterprise software has failed us in many ways. Designers of large, monolithic enterprise application interfaces long ago confused user experience with user interface, and sacrificed elegance as they stuffed screens full of fields. These technologies were engineered with an assembly line mindset, and built for transactional efficiency. But, the reality is that users only need a fraction of the functions from these legacy systems to get most of their jobs done.

 

While this tendency toward assembly line user interfaces propagated throughout enterprise applications, innovation fled away from the enterprise and toward cloud computing, somewhere around the time of Google's appearance in the marketplace. This fueled the rise of innovative, socially-focused consumer applications that, in the vacuum of enterprise IT innovation, set the bar for user experience.

 

Eventually, IT turned its attention back to business, trying - and failing - to apply to the enterprise what was going on in the consumer space. They tried to implement concepts such as the freemium concept and pure grass roots adoption tactics, for example. But, the reality is that freemium models and pure grass roots adoption is a great myth, with no companies emerging as the shining victors. Instead, the reward typically seems to be that when your favorite freemium/grass roots applications hit a tipping point, IT rips them out.

 

 

The Next Decade

 

Over the next decade, enterprises must capitalize on the last decade's consumer-driven innovation if they hope to remain competitive in their markets, both for employee talent and for brand mindshare. They must innovate how employees consume enterprise applications and how their suppliers, partners and customers participate in the business processes associated with them.

 

To fuel this innovation, we're developing a new model with the Jive Apps Market, which brings together the best of both the enterprise and consumer worlds. IT will be able to successfully meet the needs of the enterprise once again, by offering a better user experience with enterprise systems in the context of their social graph. We’ll give the enterprise the controls they need and offer multiple commerce models that can extend all the way to the end users. Our goal is to be a frictionless and more tailored Social Business solution for the enteprise and for the end user. The business apps of the future will be disposable and frequently swapped, and will make use of the enterprise social graph in a way that provides unique insights.  Similar to the Jive's Engage Platform, they will span across employees, customers, and the social Web.

 

screenshot-apps-market.jpg

We've been excited to see the way that this vision has been embraced by vendors both large and small who are already making commitments to participate.  We’re at the beginning of this, but it is clear that great things are ahead.

 

Lars Plougmann (@Larsz on Twitter), Engagement Manager with recently announced Jive Software partner, Dachis Group, agrees:

 

As the 2.0 platform becomes one of the primary interfaces people interact with, building connections to legacy enterprise applications provides a new lease of life for the investment in legacy architecture. Old style apps can be surfaced in the 2.0 platform as frames in a dashboard, remodelled forms with links to the underlying systems that are made available for data input and workflow inception, or events which are syndicated from transaction applications or knowledge stores to show up in activity streams.

~ Enterprise Apps are Moving to Enterprise 2.0 Platforms

One of the best things that can happen in a product professional's career is when a customer tells you that your product strategy is "game  changing."  In our case, this happened when we shared the plans for Jive 5.0 with an executive from one of the largest brands in our customer  base. I've spent the last week sharing our vision for Social Business Software with analysts and customers on both coasts, and gotten feedback that Jive is ambitiously leading & defining our space.

 

Basically, our announcement yesterday boils down to two very big pieces of product vision: 1) Jive What Matters; and 2) Jive Apps Market, in addition to partnerships with Google, Twitter, CSC and Dachis.

 

I plan to write about the product portion of the news in two separate posts, as I want to discuss the trends we're seeing and the significance of our announcement in more detail. Today, I'll start with Product Announcement #1, Jive What Matters.

 

Jive What Matters

 

Three years  ago when I joined Jive, Social Business Software was reasonably  undefined. Most of the customers I spoke to weren't even on Facebook and  had no point of reference. When I explained Jive to them they wondered  if it was like Outlook or Lotus Notes. Fast forward to today and much  has changed. Customers spend significant amounts of time on social  software in both their personal and professional lives. They jump among  many social platforms and manage a lot of different interfaces. And,  they have gone beyond just connecting with people – they are starting to  connect in enterprise systems as well.

 

This is great! Sort of. It  turns out social software is a bit of a victim of its own success. It does exactly what it is good at, which is bring things to your attention. That means when you are in a 50,000 person company with CRM,  ERP, and supply chain systems all chiming in updates, it can get  noisy—really noisy. It also highlights an early arrogance of Social  Business Software vendors (Jive included): that social is a place you go  to. That made sense when most people didn’t go anywhere, but now that  many are keeping up with five or more social sites and platforms it is a  lot to juggle. I like to say that the space needs to become  less "place centric" and more "user (or you) centric." Everything you need, or at least everything that matters, should find you. And that is what we did when we created Jive What Matters.

 

Jive What  Matters gives you everything you need to know, see, and do all in one  place. Jive What Matters is built on top of two powerful technologies  that strip out the noise and put in the smarts. Let’s talk about the  technology first. Jive has integrated into its platform a powerful  recommendation engine we call Jive Genius, and combined  it with filtering technology to cut through the chatter of other  systems. How do we do it? Well, social software knows more about its  users than any other system that has come before. Who you are, who you  are connected to on the employee social network, where you sit in the org chart, what you read, what you write, what you liked,  what kind of ideas you have, even when/how you access the system.  Software that knows this much about you should be able to make your life better by only showing you things worthy of your attention. I believe  that any vendor that wishes to stay relevant in this space will need to  do the same and it will need to WORK!

 

"Now" is Jive’s modern  version of the activity stream. It hones in on exactly what you  need to know to do your job more effectively. Everything it shows you is highly relevant and contextualized. Whether it is keeping you up on the most interesting things that are happening right this second, or  making sure you know everything that exists around something you’re working on. Like a helpful friend who suggests someone you  should speak with, a document you should read, or that piece of  news that is going to save you a few days of wasted work.

 

JiveWhatMatters.png

 

"My Communication" organizes all of the social communication in your world; and  there is starting to be a lot! Instant messages, replies to your last  blog post, direct messages, micro-blogs, documents, blogs, discsussions  that mention you, alerts from your social media monitoring tools - all of these frequently have the  expectation that you will see them. However, more often than not they  get lost in the mix. My Communciation not only gives you a powerful way to manage all of this in an intuitive interface, but we decided to take  it one step further. We realized that work patterns have  dramatically changed. No one has an hour at the end of their  day to clean out their inbox. Windows of time come in short  bursts, so we created what we affectionately call the "5 minute" button.  If you only had 5 minutes to get through a bunch of communication, wouldn’t you want the system to pull the most important things to the  top? It sure beats the scan, scroll, and hope strategy!

 

The  third Jive What Matter feature is “My Actions.” As more systems  get pulled into Jive and create updates in the activity stream, it didn’t seem very smart to make people jump to those systems to do simple  tasks. Especially when standards are starting to make much more  powerful things possible. Similar to the task list in Outlook—but smart!  Outlook is literally a list of things to be checked off that  you need to do somewhere else. Helpful from an organizational  perspective, but surely we’ve come further than this in the last 20  years. Our idea is that we should be able to pull that other system to  you. You should be able to view that expense and approve it with a  click, while the system brokers authentication behind the scenes. Same  with documents. Click a button and send them on their way in a workflow  in another system. We think this is the way that all systems should  begin working with each other so that users can get work done quickly  and efficiently.

 

Jive What Matters is a tremendous stride for social in the workplace, and I believe it will enable faster decision making and  action taking.

 

I also want to mention that we've got an upcoming webcast with Intel, Yum! Brands (parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell,  and more), and Forrester Research, during which Jive CEO Tony Zingale will moderate a roundtable discussion on real-world tactics and market trends -- this is a great opportunity to get insights from companies that are on the cutting edge of what is happening out in the trenches today.

 

That's it for now, stay tuned for Part #2 of my product deep dive, where I will discuss Jive Apps Market and our partnerships with Google, Twitter, CSC and Dachis.

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.

"This is huge."

 

This is a recurring statement each and every time we demo the new Jive iPhone application and Blackberry capabilities for a customer. Social Business Software has matured rapidly and grown by leaps and bounds since the early days of wikis and blogging. But as long as our customers remained tethered to their computers, we knew we could only take the Social Business revolution so far.

 

Our Announcing 4.0: A Blockbuster Release puts that problem to rest, giving people access to all of the same content and conversations they’ve worked with at their desks, extending this experience to the iPhone and Blackberry. We believe that by extending Jive to mobile devices in a meaningful way, we are making it even easier for people to get hooked on Jive. Not only that, but something about the iPhone is a lightning rod for creativity and innovation. I've gotten more incredible ideas as feedback since we started sharing this app than any piece of software I've ever built. I truly believe that within a year this application is going to fundamentally change the way people work.

 

As our customer Kevin Smyth, CIO at Cerner stated so eloquently:

 

"We are thrilled to see Jive extend the platform to the iPhone, replicating the desktop experience in a rich, seamless way. The ability to download the application straight from the Apple Apps Store is going to support rapid adoption."

 

We certainly hope so, but seeing is believing.  Check out the screenshots. I dare you not to get hooked.

Today at Gartner Symposium the Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace was unveiled, and I feel privileged to share that Jive Software was positioned in the Leaders quadrant. In today's business world the Gartner Magic Quadrant is arguably the most recognized and respected qualitative assessment of a market and its participants. This recognition is particularly meaningful because of the diligence with which Gartner selects leaders by focusing on maturity of offerings, and the vision necessary to continue to lead a market. The process is exhaustingly thorough and involves hundreds of customer conversations, which is why companies across the world rely on Gartner's guidance for selecting vendors.  It is without a doubt a privilege and an honor to be recognized in this way.

 

I'd like to take this opportunity to do three things. The first is to express sincere appreciation to the hundreds of companies who had the vision and foresight to recognize the potential for what Jive Social Business Software could mean to their companies. Enterprises like Kaiser Permanente, United Business Media, Yum!, and Manheim invested in Jive early on and have played an integral part in shaping the direction of our products. They are helping us realize a vision of transforming the way customers, partners, and employees connect with each other to achieve unprecedented results for their businesses.

 

The second is to pause and reflect on what an amazing moment in time this is for Jive as a company.  In what was one of the worst economies in recent history we just wrapped up our 4th consecutive quarter of record revenues with 100% year over year growth in Q3.  We closed a second round of investment from Sequoia Capital who has an unmatched track record of identifying successful technology companies that transform the way we live and work.  We are approaching our inaugural users' conference, JiveWorld, that in a year of the non-conference and the un-conference, sold out far in advance and has an incredible line-up of customers speaking about their success.  And, we are releasing Jive SBS 4.0 which is easily the largest, most impactful release in our company's history.

 

And lastly, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to our customers. Being recognized as a leader is an honor, but I know I speak for every Jiver when I say that it just increases the belief, determination, and commitment we bring to work every day.  Thank you for helping us grow to this stage and allowing us to do what we love.  See you next week at JiveWorld!

 

(UPDATE: You can now get a complimentary copy of the MQ Report on our Analyst Coverage page)

The last few weeks have been pretty exciting for Jive.  We received a lot of very positive press and analyst coverage around our announcement of Jive SBS 3.0, including ZDNet, CNET, VentureBeat, Aberdeen Group, and many more.  There was also a tremendous amount of chatter in the Twittersphere.  Much of the Twitter chatter has been trying to make sense of how our historical products Clearspace & Clearspace Community fit into the Jive SBS 3.0 paradigm:

 

 

marketechture.png

 

 

The History of Clearspace & Clearspace Community

 

For those of you familiar with our products, Clearspace was launched in February 2007 as one of the first fully integrated social suites addressing the needs of employee communities.  Clearspace Community was launched in May of the same year and focused on Customer & Partner communities outside of the firewall.  Jive was the only company who recognized from the beginning that addressing the needs of social software for the enterprise had to include employees, customer, and partners.

 

 

Two years later we’ve had some tremendous success with these products and added well over 600 customers to our already substantial customer base with global brands usch as Intel, Nike, CNN iReport, United Business Media, SAP, and NetApp. We’ve seen strong uptake in almost every vertical including finance, manufacturing, retail, technology, government, education, and services.  The most interesting thing is that some of our earliest customers now have tens of communities, and over a quarter of them have more than 2 communities.  As you might imagine this has created the strong desire to unify the user experience across these communities, and subjects like federation and bridging have become very common place, but I will dive into that topic in a future blog.

 


The Foundation of Social Business Software

foundation.jpg

 

If you took all of the product that we have sold to date, it would fit into the blue layer of the Jive SBS architecture pictured above.  Clearspace is now referred to as an Employee Marketplace.  And a Clearspace Community instance is called a Public Marketplace.  These Employee & Public Marketplaces are now collectively referred to as Jive Foundation.  Why?  Because they are the foundation on top of which we deliver our solution-focused Modules and Centers.  In order to purchase a Module or a Center you must have at least one foundational product in place.  This social layer is extremely important, provides a tremendous amount of value in its own right, and ultimately is what distinguishes Social Business Software from the more transaction and process oriented enterprise software that has become so familiar.  But, it is applying the power of social software to specific, understood challenges in the enterprise that provides hard ROI and clear value--this is where the introduction of the Centers truly changes the game.

 

 

But Wait! I’ve Got Questions!

 

 

 

You’re not alone.  As with any transformation there is a lot of change, and change can be confusing.  Here are the questions I’ve been getting most often over the last couple of weeks:

 

  • With the introduction of modules, are you removing functionality from the Foundation?

    Absolutely not.  An example would be the analytics dashboard related to basic user information and system information in the Admin Console of the Foundation products.  The addition of the powerful social analytics in our Analytics & Insight modules will complement these views and information, and not be redundant or conflict with them in any way.  Nothing is being removed from the Foundation or any of the products that our customers currently have in place.

 

  • With the addition of so many new offerings does that mean you are going to put the Foundation products into maintenance mode?

    Definitely not.  Jive has product management and engineering resource focused exclusively to the Foundation.  We intend to improve upon our leadership position in terms of social capabilities.  In fact, we intend to move more aggressively here than ever before.  Over the next several releases you will see us continue to unify the different modes of social communication into a single usable experience.  There will see dramatic improvements and innovation around social discovery, noise reduction, and actionability.  The Foundation will continue to be a critical part of our roadmap and strategy going forward.

  • Is Jive SBS just Clearspace with a new name?

    Hopefully the answer to this is now clear.  Clearspace is now an Employee Marketplace that is part of Jive Foundation, which is one layer of the Jive SBS architecture.  Modules and Centers are new offerings that are additional to the foundation products and dependent on at least one of the Marketplaces being in place.

  • I really like the Clearspace name and logo.  Why did they have to go?

    Before answering this, I will say that we love them too.  Spark, Forums, Clearspace, and Clearspace Community all had fantastic names & logos.  I’ve often joked that there are startups that would kill for names and branding as good as these products.  But, change is a natural part of growth and maturity, and worked very well for Jive at one time is no longer as good of a fit.

    For those of you in the enterprise software space, you know that it is very difficult to build and develop more than one brand.  When I go into our customers they collectively refer to our software as “Jive” no matter which products they are using.  (Even if it is our older Forums product.)  More importantly, these product brands were not helping our customers and prospects conceptualize the solution that Jive brings to market with our Social Business Software focus.  While there is a firm belief that this is the right decision for Jive and our customers, we’ll always have a nostalgic place in our hearts for the Clearspace name.

 

 

The Best is Still Ahead

 

We’re really excited about our new direction with Jive Social Business Software, and there is a lot more to talk about.  Dave started laying out some of what the Modules and Centers are going to mean to our customers in his blog post (http://www.jivesoftware.com/jivespace/blogs/jivetalks/2009/03/10/welcome-to-the-social-business-revolution--introducing-jive-sbs-30).  I hope to go a bit deeper in some follow-on posts.  Admittedly, it is early and the cynical may dismiss this move as pure marketing or hand waving.  But, I’m willing to predict that the skeptics will fall silent over time.  The module offerings were strongly pulled by our customers and will have an incredible amount of uptake.  Our solution focused Centers strategy was not created on a whiteboard, but from a deep assessment of the way our customers are actually using our products.  All we are doing is making their experience easier, cleaner, and more powerful by productizing and packaging our software in a way that provides clear solutions to large business problems.

Blogging outside of the firewall has some measurable numbers for determining ROI. However, it also offers noticeable value that doesn't always translate to numbers. The following is a list of the kinds of value blogging offers a business and how that value can be determined.

Lead Generation

Perhaps the clearest value to measure and the shortest path to the bottom line that blogging offers is lead generation. Blog visitors can be funneled to the business's main site by cross linking in the posts, sidebar links, and navigation items. If your business has a proper lead funnel in place, you'll be able to track the conversion rate and sales volume of the traffic that enters the site through the blog (sorry, setting up a lead funnel is another day's post).

Search Engine Optimization

Likely, search engines will be the largest traffic source supplying your blog. Search engines, especially Google, love blogs as they are a natural fit for exploiting their algorithm. You can measure the position you have in the SERPs and the volume of incoming search traffic through standard analytics solutions, such as Google Analytics. You'll also be able to track the conversion rate and sales volume for that traffic, assuming you're capturing that data through your lead funnel. A business can build perception as a market leader by having a high ranking in the SERPs for prominent keywords in their market. If your blog is hosted on the same domain as the rest of your site, then not only will your blog be a significant source for attracting search engine traffic, but also the Google juice flowing to the blog will spill out to the rest of the site improving its performance in the SERPs for its own pages.

Link Building

Quality posts will inspire people to link to them and/or socially bookmark them. Inbound links provide value in the forms of search engine optimization, referring traffic, and a reputation boost. The number of inbound links and referring traffic can be measured. You can even track the conversion rate and sales volume for that traffic. The value gained from market exposure as a link source doesn't translate to numbers, but it is directly responsible for whether or not the measurable numbers go up or down.

Building Subscribers

Blog subscribers come in several forms: email subscribers, RSS subscribers, Twitter friends, and potentially more. They are extremely valuable contacts because they have opted-in to your future communications. You can tap subscribers for consuming new content, taking action (like voting for a post on Digg), special offers (like participating in a contest), and completing surveys. You can measure the number of subscribers and the actions they take with services such as Feedburner.

Market Leadership Perception

Blogs are a great tool for positioning yourself as an expert in your market. Consistent output of quality content, combined with positive interaction are the keys to successful positioning as an expert, which has myriad immeasurable value trails. You should notice value in the form of how many inbound links you earn, the context of the words around the link, the volume of unsolicited media inquiries you earn, and an increased close ratio for your sales team due to your reputation.

Reputation Management

Speaking of reputation, you'll need to properly manage yours online to get the most out of our thought leadership program. Essentially reputation management is about listening and responding. In an interview from CIO InSight, Robert Scoble put it like this:

We used blog-search engines to find anyone who wrote the word "Microsoft" on their blog. Even if they had no readers and were just ranting, "I hate Microsoft," I could see that and link to it, or I could participate in their comments, or send them an e-mail saying, "What's going on?" And that told those people that someone was listening to their rants, that this is a different world than the one in which no one listens. It was an invaluable focus group that Microsoft didn't have to pay for

 

The article went on to say that this kind of direct communication provided millions of dollars in PR value and is directly responsible for a shift in market perception about Microsoft as evil. So, not only can thought leadership position you as an expert, but it also allows you to address negative PR early on.

 

Competitive Advantage

Thought Leadership from blogging can provide several competitive advantages. Dominating the conversations will increase the mind share your brand has in your market. Leading the pack also means you're receiving more from the benefits of thought leadership than your competitors, which has as many advantages as their are benefits. Staying ahead of the group will strongly aide your acquisition of market share and provide strong defense for the amount you control. In an interview for Influence 2.0, Claudio Marcus and Kimberly Collins of Gartner quantified the advantage in the B2C market as such:

...by 2007, marketers that devote at least 50% of their time to advanced customer-centric marketing processes and capabilities will achieve marketing return on investment that is at least 30 percent greater than that of their peers, who lack such emphasis

 

The consumer-centric marketing processes they are discussing is driven by intelligence gathering that guides messaging. While you may not see the exact same numbers in the B2B market, it is safe to assume that the world is at the beginning of an adoption curve for leveraging intelligence for publishing direction. As a result, you should see significantly more return than those not aggressively applying the same cutting edge techniques in your market.

 

Media and Public Relations

Publishing content for and interacting with other media providers will increase your sway with them. The measurable results of this will come in the form of inbound links, trackbacks, syndication, comments, and blogrolls. What the numbers won't show is the increased willingness to listen to the PR pitches you put in front of the media. In fact, you should find yourself in the position to make more casual and opportunistic pitches from a more open and frequent information exchange.

 

Product Development

Related to reputation management, product development can benefit from listening to what customers are saying about them. Robert Scoble talked about it like this:

I would often e-mail a Microsoft product team leader, like Dean Hachamovitch over at the Internet Explorer team, and say, "Hey, man, here's someone out here complaining about your product, what are you going to do about it?" That would prompt him to blog about a lot of things, to tell people what they were going to do about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, a design tool for HTML and XML pages) support and security, or crashing, or whatever. I think that helped improve the products. The One Note team (One Note is an application in the Microsoft Office suite that syncs text and audio) told me they got a lot of feature requests through their blog, features that they actually implemented in the next version of the product. They thought it was an important way to listen to customers and give them what they wanted.

 

As he said earlier, "it was an invaluable focus group" for Microsoft. You too can cash in on this valuable benefit.

 

Recruitment

It's not only potential customers and market influencers that are going to be participating with you, but potential employees as well. When competing against pundits like Microsoft, Intel and IBM, you'll need all of the help you can get to attract top talent. A quality information stream and positive market perception from quality participation in the industry conversations will go a long way in selling your company to talent you don't even know exists.

Low Cost

Perhaps one of the least obvious benefits is that all of these benefits come from an operating expense that is significantly lower than would be possible with PR or from printed publications.

  I just got done checking out Microsoft Office Live beta release over lunch and my mind has been spinning on it all afternoon.  Not for any of the reasons you might guess.  The release is actually quite predictable. It has been hailed with an equally predictable host of reviews criticizing its lack of true innovation in the midst of a Web 2.0 catalyzed collaboration renaissance as well as more courteous reviews from those established enough to know it is good business to be polite to Microsoft.

 

What has fascinated me about this release is that it illustrates how incredibly difficult it is to break away from an established paradigm of thinking.   It brings to mind a story I once read of a British colonial expedition in the northern subarctic regions of Canada.  They died from exposure to the elements and were found by some of the local Native Americans who were passing through the area on sleds.  This sounds like a typical tale of the hazards of 18th century exploration until you learn that the reason they became stuck was that they were trying to take a heavy horse drawn coach further weighted down with heavy trunks through the arctic wilderness.  One of the members of the party was of a certain status and they had brought his coach with them across the ocean on the ship.  It really makes you wonder if even one among the expedition noticed at some point that the landscape had radically changed from what they knew in England and raised his voice to question whether this de rigueur mode of transportation was still appropriate.

 

Microsoft Office Live Workspace basically extends the Office paradigm to include web services.  It wouldn't be terribly unfair to describe the core of its new functionality as allowing you to save your Word files on a hosted drive that multiple people can access (although admittedly only one at a time with notifications when it's your turn to edit) instead of on your local machine.  In their defense, Microsoft’s product managers even admit that this product is “optimized for people who use office everyday”, don't know how to upload a document, and don't want to send it via email.  The integration with Outlook is actually pretty slick, but it is held back somewhat from the fact that it only really works completely as designed if you are running a computer with a Microsoft's OS, Microsoft browser, and using the latest office suite.

 

As an expansion of Office's functionality I think Microsoft Office Live Workspace is a nice improvement and makes the products more flexible.  But, in a time when there is so much exciting innovation going on in the collaboration space it is almost painful to see the traditional document management paradigm of Sharepoint married with hosted file storage and called "collaboration".  I'm sure our intrepid explorers realized at some point after they stopped making progress that simply calling their coach a sled didn't get it unstuck.

Social productivity is all about getting stuff done through visibility, influence and  engaging those people that you do not normally work with everyday. As work is introduced, stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and experiences can chime in to provide valuable insight and move the work efficiently along. These could be people you know within the company, people retained by your company, customers, or partners working outside of your company. Connecting people within your firewall has a host of challenges. Connecting people outside your firewall to those inside of it can be downright daunting. But, what if you could unlock the bottleneck and connect the external community activity in intelligent ways to the same activity inside of the enterprise? When I can reach out to engage with customers to make important product decisions I need relevant customer comments to find their way to me without me looking for them.  It would be great if "approved" thinking from the inside the company could be exposed to customers who might find it interesting or helpful.  When these things happen that's when I realize the benefits of social productivity.

 

The epiphany here is that traditional Communities (like forums) fall short because they are basically dependent on people in the enterprise getting onto the external community to participate. The sad reality is that in most companies' communities are "owned" by one person in one department--sometimes they even have a specified title like "Community Manager". In most companies that means one of two things: 1) There is a community manager trying to beg people in the company to get involved in the community, or 2) Enterprising employees who see the value have to get into the community just like a customer and then sift through everything to find out what is going on. It's a lot of overhead and a lot of work with only a little value if you're casually engaged.

 

With this on my mind I stumbled across a blog post that John Eckman of Open Parenthesis did about a month ago on Josh Bernoff's keynote from the Forrester Consumer Forum. John raises some interesting points about buzz & technology being short lived and the imperative to solve real problems, but the part that caught my eye were his objectives regarding

the Community aspect of the equation.

 

I "added some value" to (shamelessly modified) his thoughts by swapping some categories and adding some of my own. I saw the external community engagements relating to the internal functions like this:

 

 

The value proposition for connecting external community within the enterprise

John provided examples, which are:

Function

Engagement

Value Example

Marketing

Talking

Adidas drives 4 million impressions with their soccer page on MySpace and it cost them $100K.

Sales

Energizing

How eBags energized their sales with rating and reviews. Empowering customers and turning them into evangelists to recruit other customers and catalyze sales.

Support

Supporting

Dell has a user who has posted and helped 20,452 times since 1999. The only thing I think is cooler is connecting this straight into the official support org.

Services

Embracing

I thought his example here was better for "Satisfying". In my mind, Services plays a leadership role in enabling our customers to embrace the solution. They are solution leaders, and help fit square pegs into round holes.

Product Mgmt

Listening

Gives the example of Salesforce.com and the idea of working with customers to create and prioritize features/products. I use this example all the time in speaking with people.

Development

Satisfying

I think giving Development direct access to see what customers are talking about and the problems they are having is the best way to create a great product. Let's face it no one understands how the products really work better than development, and there are no better people to create something that truly satisfies customer's needs.

 

These categories aren't new or revolutionary, but I think they represent a the kind of framework we're using to connect Clearspaceand CSX. It starts painting a story of the whole company being integrated with its customers and partners, not just the "community manager". In the short term these connections may be light, but I can see it maturing into something really powerful that speaks to the true value of Social Productivity. Within each of these functions there are really 3 meaningful forms of interaction in the short term:

  • See content from the outside

  • Share content from the inside

  • Engage the right people in the community for feedback

 

If you believe like we do that when we succeed in connecting internal and external communities on a common information exchange platform then we can realize social productivity, then watch for the next two posts in this series:

  • Tactics for connecting outside communities with internal functions

  • Organizational strategies for growing communities that support your goals

 

I've been digging into market sizing numbers again because it gives a great window into how people are understanding this market and the speed at which it is evolving. Having tracked some of this information, I'm inspired to comment on the parameters used for sizing our market. It is clear to me that our market is significantly larger than Gartner currently estimates. For example, Sam Lawrence recently posted about the threat our market poses to traditional office software.

Microsoft alone makes over $10B annually with their office suite focused on personal productivity. As the delineation between creating and sharing documents collapses, their market valuations between these two spaces should merge.  As Dave mentioned in his original post, analyst Michael Dortch probably summed up this perspective the best:

 

"Look, the long and the short of it is that everybody in every business collaborates, internally with colleagues and externally with customers, partners, and prospects, yes? So how big is the "collaboration market," however THAT's defined? I'd be brash enough to say that assuming that half of every business dollar is wasted or consumed by unspecified overhead, a conservative estimate of the extended collaboration market would be, say, half the worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) equivalent. Is THAT big enough??

 

If it's TOO big, let's come at it from the other, even more conservative end of the spectrum. Let's say that no more than five to 10 percent of the worldwide GDP equivalent represents a defensible stand-in for the collaboration market. That's still a LOT more than many IT-centric markets today, isn't it?"

 

People, like Andrew McAfee, have been working to draw a line around our market and he has contributed immensely to the understanding of the space, but ultimately still falls short of the entire vision.  Jive sees this emerging market as " Social Productivity", which fuses social software and office features to create productivity apps that are socially driven. My questions to you are: Where do you draw the line when so many existing solutions have created such large markets and still fallen so short of the promise of Social Productivity? What do you suspect the size of the market to be?

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