Why Jive Software Isn’t LinkedIn to Social Business

This week, Jive Software reported a wider fourth-quarter net loss, weighted by higher expenses even as its revenue growth exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. There’s no doubt that Jive is an impressive software company that’s developed a technology innovation wrapped in a brilliant marketing package. This is a shame, because their approach is fundamentally flawed.

Jive’s tagline boasts that its software is “the new way to business”. At first, their argument sounds convincing: “Just as social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have changed the way consumers communicate, Jive will create the new way of business and will replace all enterprise legacy software: email, document management, CRM system, portals and Intranets.” But is Jive really leading the next revolution - the enterprise spring - delivering a fresh start for the Facebook generation entering the corporate world and expecting Facebook-like tools? Not necessarily.

Jive software introduces a disruptive, revolutionary approach that requires all business users to radically alter the way they perform day-to-day work. That’s why Jive’s home page dares enterprises to be “fearless” and to “rethink business”. Creating such a paradigm shift in the workplace is challenging. At home, it’s compelling and easy for consumers to join Facebook or Twitter as their friends are already there. At work however, business users receive no value to join an enterprise network while most of their colleagues remain in email. Where disruption and new technology are compelling for consumers, the enterprise collective can only absorb evolutionary innovation.

To Improve Technology Adoption, Focus on People

The enterprise doesn’t need a costly revolution, which may only work only for the tech savvy users. Rather, the enterprise needs a social strategy that includes and empowers all employees.

A recent CapGemini/MIT study found that two-thirds of organizations are failing to evolve into digital enterprises, primarily because of resistance to change. In fact, the researchers suggest that “the key to digital transformation is changing how the company operates and that is a management and people challenge, as much as a technology one.”

By creating and integrating a people-centric social strategy, companies can achieve greater social software adoption than it can by focusing only on technology.

Evolution, Not Revolution

In order for the enterprise to truly become more collaborative and more social, they need an evolutionary approach, respectful of current workflows, business processes and existing infrastructures. Becoming a more collaborative and more social business requires a gradual change of behavior, not a brutal rip-and-replace strategy.

Enterprise social strategies need not only be evolutionary and easy, but they also must add value to existing business workflows. An evolutionary social platform recognizes that documents are the memory of the enterprise. Budgets, proposals, presentations, contracts, designs and business plans are all captured within documents, so an effective social strategy needs to connect people to documents and documents to people. Documents need to evolve and become a valuable and inherent part of the social platform instead of a legacy artifact.

Jive says that it offers a totally new way of looking at business, requiring workers to change the way they work. How many businesses want to be “fearless”? Sane business managers look for adaptive, evolutionary ones, not disruptive, chaotic ones. As a result I believe most organizations will not adopt the Jive approach.