Today at the 5th annual JiveWorld conference in Las Vegas, in front of approximately 1600 attendees, Jive Software announced their upcoming Fall Cloud release, Jive 7. Here are my high level thoughts on the event and today'€™s announcements.

- I much prefer JiveWorld's new slogan "Get Real" over previous "€œnew way to work" style messaging. Rather than continuing to preaching about how organizations should dramatically change the way people work, "Get Real" reflects how social business has matured beyond simple sharing to what I refer to as purposeful collaboration.

- Jive has focused on delivering incremental enhancements that improve the way employees can use Jive to get their jobs done. While features like better task management, integrated instant messaging, improved profiles and directory are not necessarily innovative (and in many places catchup), they do all contribute to enhancing the platform in ways that new customers and prospects will appreciate. 

- Integration is the key to success. The integration with Google'€™s products is a smart move, as the mid-size market is filled with Google Apps for Business customers who are looking for additional social capabilities that Google has not yet fully delivered. If Jive can win over these customers now, it could prevent them from looking at similar offerings from Google (like Google+ and Hangouts), Microsoft (SharePoint, Yammer) and other collaboration vendors.  Similarly, Jive (via some of their own development + the acquisition of StreamOnce) provide very good integration with popular cloud based tools like Evernote, Box, Marketo, and more. These integrations mean people can spend more time getting their work done in Jive versus switching back and forth between multiple tools.

Below I provide my point of view (MyPOV) on some of the specific product announcements.

> "Portals Redefined"

MyPOV: I'm glad to see Jive embrace (vs shy away from) the term portal, a word which some people may view as old and out of style. While "Social Intranet"€ may be more buzzword compliant, a portal, or window into something, is exactly what Jive is, as it provides an interface in which people can find and interact with people and content contained both within Jive as well as several other cloud services.

> "Full integration of Producteev's (which Jive acquired Nov 5, 2012) Social Task Management software."

MyPOV: As the use of social tools increases so to does the overload of information and challenge in trying to find what needs your attention. Social Task Management is a simply way of organizing the tasks and projects people are working on. Now rather than just having conversations, people can assign tasks to posts, files, blogs and other content within Jive. The integration of Producteev directly into Jive’s native features is a very welcome addition.

> "With Impact Metrics, executives and information workers can view how their internal blogs and strategy documents have been received, including sentiment analysis, readers, whether the message has gotten through to the targeted departments, and who's actions have driven the distribution and improved message reach."

MyPOV: This is one of the announcements I’m the most excited about. For years I’ve been lecturing on "Don'€™t forget the ME in social media."  What I mean by that is, it's important for a collaboration tool to show people the impact and reach of their own content. Have you ever wondered presentations you posted were used the most, or which questions you answered reach the most people?  Now with Impact Metrics people will start to be able to answer those questions and more.  While “big data” gets a lot of attention these days, it’s "small data” or the information specifically relevant to me that I think is more important. As this feature becomes more robust, I hope it goes beyond just providing statistics and offers suggestions and guidance on the types of content you should (and shouldn’t) work on, when your work is most effective, and which people or groups you should spend your time working with.

> "Real-time communications - employees can initiate 1:1 or group real time conversations"

MyPOV: Real time conversations provides an alternative to email and social networking posts or private messages. However, some guidance should be provided to employees as to when each type of message is appropriate. The ability to see online status and initiate chats provides Jive with similar communication features available in the collaboration platforms from IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Podio, Atlassian, Cisco and others. This feature is a result of last year’s acquisition of, so expect this is just the start and we’ll see more unified communications features like screensharing and video conferencing coming soon.

> "Get relevant profiles and Jive conversations from within Gmail, including the ability to comment, interact and create new Jive discussions from existing emails."

MyPOV: Email clients are still one of the most important business tools people use, so providing access to Jive from inside them is an excellent move. Now customers using Google Apps (Gmail) can create, share and engage with Jive content without having to switch away from their inbox to a separate browser window. This seamless experience makes working with email and/or Jive content much easier for people. This integration provides Jive customers using Google Apps (Gmail) with similar functionality to that available to their customers who use Microsoft Outlook. 

> "Similar to the deep integration with Box for file storage, people can now access Google Drive directly from Jive."

MyPOV: Similar to my comments above about Gmail, Google Drive is a widely adopted cloud based file storage service so this will be a welcome addition for many customers. Now that Jive supports both Box and GDrive files, Jive can act as a single front end to both services, simplifying the experience for people who access files stored on both platforms. Customers who need more integration for file-sharing should look at services like , or

> "Modernized corporate directory - People can now endorse colleagues’ skills, when creating new groups or projects, Jive auto-suggests colleagues that match the needed talents."

MyPOV: Expertise Location has long been the one of the Holy Grails of social business marketing. In the first generation of products people could update their own profiles with the skills, experiences and interests. Now rather than relying on individuals to saying what they themselves are good at, their peers are able to provide their opinions in the form of endorsements.  This is very similar to the way LinkedIn now allows people to endorse the skills of their connections.  While peer endorsements are a step up from self generated profiles, they still don’t require validation to prove that a person really has the skills people say they do. What is needed is a system that automatically generates skills and expertise based on “what you really do” not what you or even your peers say you do. For example, if you often blog about solar panels or wind turbines, the system should update your profile to indicate you’re an expert on alternate energy.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations 

- Jive has done a good job at leveraging their experience and head-start in the market to:
a) Deliver a platform that will allow customers to combine best of breed cloud-based solutions from Jive, Box, Google, Okta, Marketo and many others. This is a very timely as many organizations are at a transition point where they are moving away from on-premises solutions to embrace hosted offerings. Keeping their mind-share a leading edge cloud provider is critical to their growth.
b) Provide guidance on best practices that will help with successful implementations. As organizations begin to use social software for more critical business functions than just status updates and file sharing, they will look to Jive for help. Creating a professional services team is an expensive and difficult business, so this is a great opportunity for Jive’s partners.
c) Attract a partner eco-system that can add additional functionality and fill in the gaps in the features that Jive does not deliver themselves. The partner showcase this year was filled with tools that provide integration with other systems, compliance and auditing, gamification and more.

- Jive is at an interesting inflection point. They have grown the size of their company, their customer base and their partner ecosystem but the competition in the market has dramatically increased. With software giants like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, Citrix, Cisco and others all now offer collaboration platforms Jive will need to remain nimble and prove that they can stay ahead of the competition or integrate with them in significant enough ways that they still provide additional value.

- From both a functionality and user experience perspective Jive is clearly one of the leading collaboration software vendors. They offer all the standard collaboration tools people expect, have one of the more advanced activity streams, excellent integration with other products, robust profiles and directory, very useful analytics capabilities, feature rich mobile clients and more. Customers interested in improving the way their employees work together and the ability for customers to engage with their brand should certainly have Jive on their short list of vendors.