13 Replies Latest reply on Jun 17, 2013 10:56 AM by jim.buck01

    Email interop and Jive

    smoghe

      We've deployed Jive at our organisation about a year back and I must say the community uptake has been phenomenal. If the activity stream is much to go by, it zips past me before I know it. We've got a great team of community managers, several engaged users in the community, brilliant exec sponsorship and excellent leadership from the ground up. There is one problem though - email.

       

      We're primarily a developer centric company - it's safe to say that 70% of our audience is absolutely die-hard software-technologists. Traditionally developers are quite used to the mailing lists. Quoting from Jono Bacon's Art of Community:

      "Software developers generally prefer content to be delivered directly to them. They are generally most comfortable with mailing lists and RSS feeds (updated content from websites and online resources) and don’t like to have to refresh a browser to see if new content exists. This is part of why many (typically western) developers don’t get on very well with forums."

      Not surprisingly, several developer communities run on mailing lists already - open source projects, user groups and the like. This basically means that most developers are used to a set of behaviours when it comes to organising their community discussions by email, inline/ trim posting, cross-posting, formatting code online and the like. This is where Jive is coming out a bit inadequate, because for developers who live their life on other communities related to their craft by email, this is a completely different collaboration experience. To add to it, Jive has a bunch of problems related to email interoperability:

      • can't crosspost emails to various groups
      • can't bottom post on emails or post inline, because Jive requires the user to top-post - this makes deep technical discussions around code snippets quite tough
      • creating discussions by email is quite tough because
        1. Jive email addresses are quite cryptic to type out: discussions-groups-software--development@my.thoughtworks.com for example
        2. Jive drops all HTML formatting that comes through email
      • every new message on Jive comes through only with the top posted new message but misses the prior context which makes it difficult to forward over the conversation to another group - in that technical discussions can get quite silo'd - quite the opposite of what we'd like. Moreover, Jive drops the detail in forwarded emails since it trims out content below the email headers (by design).
      • if someone responds to a thread on the web interface, it doesn't catalogue back on his email thus making the email conversation view itself miss important detail.

       

      In addition, email is quite friendly and ubiquitous - we aren't getting rid of it anytime soon and people definitely look at it every day. Everyone's phone's configured with email and it's a great solution (with offline capability) for our traveling consultants who are always on the road.

       

      Now traditional wisdom would say that we conform to the behaviours of our users instead of trying to have them conform to our mental model; but we don't want to lose our biggest community by letting them move back to a mailing list - which they might be quite happy with. The domino effect from here could be that several other communities follow suit and our social business platform becomes a graveyard. On the other hand, having these conversations on an open platform where users can be part of discussions without necessarily joining a group is quite valuable. In addition it helps conversations sit in the same context as content (blogposts and documents) and brings a nice, integrated approach to learning in the enterprise.

       

      So, here are some questions I have for the group:

      • Are you facing similar problems when facilitating a primarily developer centric community?
      • What strategies do you suggest for the situation I've outlined?
      • What technology solutions could we implement to bring the email and Jive user experiences closer? Have you deployed anything of the sort? I noticed on the EMC2 case study that they're deploying a Jive-mailing list bridge solution. Are there other software consultancies out there using Jive who are trying something of this nature?
      • How do engage your developer centric community if you manage one?

       

      This is perhaps the next big challenge on our social business journey - so I'd really appreciate your responses.

       

      Sumeet

        • Re: Email interop and Jive
          nbussard

          Hi Sumeet,

          I believe the problems you face are quite common. We also have these issues, especially with regard to formatting code. I believe that the Outlook Connector will resolve most of these issues. It will not get users off of email; rather it will bring the full Jive experience to their inbox, allowing them to see full messages, convert email threads to discussions automatically, etc. It certainly seems like it would be worthwhile to reach out to your account manager and set up a demo.

          Best,

          Nikki

            • Re: Email interop and Jive
              smoghe

              Unfortunately we don't use Outlook in the organisation at all. We're mostly a Macs and Linux based company and most people use Gmail as the email client since we have GApps enterprise. As far as mail clients go, the one we use the most is either Apple Mail or Thunderbird. Outlook is really a minority.

               

              Sumeet

                • Re: Email interop and Jive
                  tmaurer

                  I understand Jive recently purchased streamOnce, which is a company who is trying to make it easy to pull email streams and other streams into the Jive platform so that you as a user can see everything in one place. I am personally really looking forward to this because it can get pretty challenging to constantly jump from email to the Jive Community to my internal community, etc. I sometimes forget to open a window for one of them and get behind. Would love to comingle some specific threads on similar topics so that I could manage better.

              • Re: Email interop and Jive
                jim.buck01

                I think Sumeet sums up a very big issue in his post.  Even with the Outlook connector now available, the problems still exist as we too have many users on Macs, especially engineers in the field, and the Outlook plugin does not work for Mac.  The larger concern, as well, is that if the sales field engineers continue using email without those conversations being pushed back into our Jive platform, it leaves a large hole in our overall social business strategy.

                 

                Here are a few things that have been suggested by our users:

                1. When initiating a discussion using a vCard, make it so that others can respond to the email notification in their email inbox without the vCard creating a new discussion upon each response.

                2. show the whole discussion inline.  Right now, you only see the top level response.  This removes all context of the conversation and doesn't allow for offline reading of a full discussion.

                3. Allow an email alias to post to a group discussion, thus allowing users to maintain a current, effective process, that also promotes the use of the Jive social spaces.

                 

                It looks like this overall discussion has been frozen for sometime so, hopefully this post can generate some new activity around the issue.

                 

                Mor Avital Any idea if Jive is actively looking at solutions for these issues?

                 

                Thanks.

                 

                Jim