This is the fourth in a series of blog posts that will focus on answering the question "what is the long-term future of Jive?"
In this blog post, I'll continue exploring the future of Jive - a future based on a core technology we call PeopleGraph.
For those of you who joined us in Munich or New Orleans for Aurea Experience '18, I want to thank you for your time and your feedback, both on the tactical issues we're wrestling through and the future direction we're building toward. Broadly speaking, I'd summarize that feedback in two camps. On the tactical front: "You are making progress but nowhere near fast enough - we still have too many issues." And on the future direction: "This sounds great - we want to see you deliver." Fair enough, and I agree on both counts.
This series is focused on the latter part, helping to shed light on what we're working on as we look to reinvent Jive for the next decade of category leadership. As a refresher, our core thesis is that enterprise collaboration has not delivered on its original promise principally because there has been too much focus on content creation (more and more tools for people to create more and more content) and too little focus on people (relationships, connections, expertise/skills, and the content they create and consume).
The result is "digital crowding," an explosion in enterprise content that has crowded out meaningful, purposeful, and valuable collaboration and knowledge sharing. What's more troubling is that this situation is only going to get worse. We are in an era of exploding content creation tools (estimates suggest that as much as 90% of all web content has been created in just the last two years). Add in increasing organizational complexity - globalization, virtualization, and the emergence of the "gig economy" work force - and it's not hard to see how collaboration tools built for chatter (thank you, Salesforce, for naming your product after the problem) are ill suited for this organizationally complex and distractingly noisy collaboration landscape of the future.
In prior posts in this series I mentioned the three core capabilities that PeopleGraph is designed to enable: Connection, Discovery, and Collaboration (there is also a fourth- "Insights" - but as that is Community Manager focused as opposed to user-focused we will handle that in a separate series). In the last post, we talked about Discovery and how PeopleGraph will enable an unprecedented level of people and knowledge discovery through its ability to richly understand people, their relationships, the content they create and consume and the work they do. In this post, I'm going to focus on Connection.
Enabling Connection with PeopleGraph: The Richest Representation of Your Organization
Connection is going to be a new concept in Jive, so before I dive into some of the specific capabilities it will offer, it's worth spending a few moments coming back to PeopleGraph and one of its important design principles. This will, I hope, help clarify why we believe the new value offered by Connection is so fundamental - and so significant.
I've described PeopleGraph as the future core engine of Jive. And that is true, but the fact of the matter is it has been designed and implemented to be much more than that. Our ambition for what PeopleGraph can do is not limited by the current bounds of Jive. The design mandate of PeopleGraph is to be the single richest source of people insight about an organization that exists within the enterprise. As such, it is being architected to ingest and represent information about people from a vast array of applications where people either do their work (e.g., Google Docs) or represent important information about themselves (e.g., LinkedIn).
PeopleGraph has been designed to pull insights and information from myriad sources including Office 365, Google, email, calendar, and LinkedIn (where, ironically, the organization can now 'take back' employee data that LinkedIn is in effect using to help pilfer organizational talent). Future sources will also include Box, Salesforce, HR systems, and (of course) Jive itself. In total, the depth of insight PeopleGraph will have about people and their relationships will be deeper than any other source in the enterprise.
Given this depth of insight, having the ability for users to inspect, navigate and enhance PeopleGraph's perspective is important. This is the purpose of Connection - enabling full exploration and exposure of the deep people insights that PeopleGraph contains. And what will this mean for people and teams? Newer, broader and more meaningful organizational connections that create heretofore untapped opportunity for valuable collaboration.
Visualizing and Cultivating Connections
One powerful aspect of what Connection will provide is the ability to visualize your connections, much like LinkedIn or other public social networks enable you to see all of your different connections. Like LinkedIn, users will be able to see the basis of their connection with other people in the organization that they may not have a formal relationship with (LinkedIn's notion of second and third degree connections). But that's really where the similarities end.
Recall that there are three core types of connections that PeopleGraph recognizes: organizational relationships, explicit relationships, and implicit relationships. Connection will enable you to visualize and navigate all three.
Organizational connections will be visible in the standard organizational chart, enabling users to jump from the org chart to an individual within it or jump from the individual to their place within the org chart. Like Google Earth, users will be able to visualize the org chart at different levels of granularity and at different distances, "surfing" in a way that enables an effortless search and browse experience. There have been organizational chart navigation experiences before, but never one quite like this.
One level beyond the organization chart are explicit relationships: the network people build within the company. This enables people to reflect each user's networks - the people with whom they have established formal connections in the classic social network definition. PeopleGraph will use its understanding of these connections to improve personalization, but also to more intelligently help people expand their networks in valuable ways.
The visualization of these explicit relationships will be more sophisticated than the simple lists that are de riguer for networks like LinkedIn or Facebook. Relationships can be grouped, filtered, or sorted across numerous dimensions, including geography, function, title/level, tenure, skills, experience, expertise, and relationship strength, among others. One's network is no longer just a list of people, it is a work asset that can be inspected, analyzed, and ultimately leveraged to get work done.
One of the more interesting elements of PeopleGraph is its ability to reflect and understand attributes and relationships that aren't captured by the org chart or reflected in an individual's personally curated network. The inspection of this network is among the most valuable elements of PeopleGraph, as the ability to leverage this understanding is key to how the future Jive eliminates digital crowding and will lead a reinvention of the enterprise collaboration space.
While we've yet to fully design the UI representation of these capabilities - most of the focus of the last several months has been on the core PeopleGraph data structure and inspection algorithms - we can share a general sense of our thinking on how users might "surf" the organization outside the more traditional context of the organizational chart.
We expect to create a search and browse-based experience that closely mirrors the shopping experience: items (people) on the right that can be filtered and sorted by various criteria. The best shopping sites act like divining rods on steroids, narrowing hundreds of thousands of SKUs to the few of relevance extraordinarily quickly. We aspire to do the same with people.
Let's illustrate the use case with a specific example. Assume a user is working on a project to launch a new consumer product in Poland. The user, in this example, is leading the distribution strategy on behalf of your company. She's been asked to put together her team for this important initiative.
In the future, she will go to Jive, and - rather than surf the organization chart - she will surf the PeopleGraph.
First, she selects people that speak Polish. Then, she sub-selects people who have credible expertise in retail distribution (she could also select for people who claim expertise in retail distribution, but in this case she's using PeopleGraph's ability to discern validated expertise based on their validated work contributions). She then sorts the resulting list of people by "relationship relevance," or people whom PeopleGraph discerns have the strongest connection to her (she might decide to do the opposite and find people with whom she has little connection, but in this case she is prioritizing relationship affinity as a predictor of team chemistry).
Satisfied she has the right person, she looks to turn this "implicit" connection into an "explicit" connection by requesting the latter in a manner that is familiar to most users of social networks. She then invites this person to a traditional Jive group collaboration session that enables to new invitee to quickly get up to speed on all the content and conversations on the project.
In effect, what PeopleGraph will enable is "shopping for people," providing users the ability to identify resources in the organization with whom they can build relationships and strengthen their network and knowledge base.
We view this capability as the single most powerful and important source of value from PeopleGraph. And it is important to understand that this is fundamentally different from a Jive profile search.
PeopleGraph builds its rich understanding of people from all the major sources of people knowledge within the organization - a scope of knowledge that goes well beyond Jive. When a user is searching for a person that has a particular expertise, PeopleGraph will not identify people that have that expertise by a "dumb" profile search. Rather, PeopleGraph will have assessed this expertise based on that person's content, contributions, and work across a rich variety of data sources (the aforementioned Office 365, Google, LinkedIn, email, calendar, and others). This is real, demonstrated expertise and content and not a function of who spends more time building their profile.
Transforming Enterprise Collaboration
Honestly - and humbly - we believe this is going to transform organizations and work at the same level that Jive did originally back in the first decade of this millennium. Jive invented enterprise collaboration - and it changed everything. We are now committed to reinventing it. Organizational complexity and an explosion of content have reduced the effectiveness of existing collaboration solutions; digital crowding has become a plague on the entire space. So while every other collaboration solution focuses on helping people create yet more content, Jive will be focused on creating the richest and most complete representation of people in your organization. That representation will make everything about collaboration more powerful. Jive will simultaneously become broader (by enabling connections between people that would have never connected before) and more focused (by narrowing content presentation that that which is the most relevant).
I have been intentionally vague in describing when these capabilities will start to see the light of day. So let me make two commitments here: first, you will see PeopleGraph-related deliveries before the end of 2019. And second, the initial set of those capabilities will center around this innovation theme of Connection, in part because the inspection and cultivation of the PeopleGraph relationships are at the core of the new Jive and everything else we will do. The first deliveries will be basic - we need to start with the basics - but will start to give you an immediate sense of where this is all going and how the future I've been describing in these blog posts will be made possible.
Thanks for taking the time to read these thoughts, and as always I look forward to your comments and feedback.