CEO Elisa Steele’s plans for a ‘simpler’ Jive continue to gain momentum

SUMMARY:

The enterprise collaboration company’s annual user event kicked off in Las Vegas this week and Jive customers got an insight into Steele’s plans.

Elisa Steele
Elisa Steele, Jive CEO

Jive kicked off its annual user event in Las Vegas this week, with CEO Elisa Steele giving customers an insight into her plans for the company’s product portfolio, and to share her views on the future of enterprise collaboration.

Whilst the announcements coming out of the conference were low key, when considered within the context of the Jive’s broader strategy and the changes that have taken place in recent months, Steele is establishing her vision for what Jive should be about.

That’s going to be critical over the coming years, when you consider how crowded the enterprise collaboration software market is becoming. Not only have you got the likes of Chatter and Yammer, but there are also companies like Slack attracting a significant amount of attention.

Combine this with the fact that enterprise software companies in general are integrating collaboration features around their broader portfolios, it’s clear that competition is tough.

However, Jive feels like a very different company to the one we were presented with a year and a half ago at its last user event. The user experience has improved significantly, there is a renewed focus on simpler mobile applications, plus an understanding that Jive’s niche is that it can connect internal and external collaboration to a central hub that provides context.

The strategy is clearer and the product appears to be far more competitive, in terms of design and functionality. Integrations with popular Microsoft and Google products are there, plus there is a recognition from Steele that Jive can’t just focus its attention on a few high value customer deals to succeed. For collaboration to take hold, it needs to have broad appeal.

A lot of this is down to Steele and her renewed vision for the company.

That said, Jive has challenges. These things don’t guarantee success and it’s a very crowded marketplace, with customers faced with plenty of options (not to mention there is the imminent release of Facebook’s enterprise offering).

The keynote

As mentioned above, the announcements coming out of Jive this morning were relatively low-key. They focused on fleshing out the company’s offering, introducing new and useful capabilities. They were used to provide a clearer picture to customers about the company’s direction.

Steele took to the stage and said:

People are Jiving like never before. We have had growth in our mobile applications in a major way. We have actually introduced three new mobile applications and products. We have had ten releases since we have last seen you, so we are innovating faster than ever before. And we have had 30% increase in our daily users, we have 30 million people around the world using Jive. And what I love about all of this is that people are getting what they need to get their work done and are making the connections that are important to them.

Almost 70% of the audience is a first time attendee at Jive world. That’s amazing. It shows our expansion.

Every company in the world is either figuring out or struggling how to deal with the new world of work.

Some of the announcements this morning included:

  • Introducing Jive Identity Service – This aims to bring people, teams and communities together in a secure business network that provides greater control over user accounts and simplifies accessibility. It essentially creates a single identity for users.
  • Corporate communications bundle – A new out-of-the-box solution for internal communications teams that includes simplified content publishing capabilities for blogs, images, videos, auto-subscribed news streams, a configurable news page and personalised email digests, as well as metrics for message reach and sentiment.
  • Mobile intranet enhancements – An update to Jive Daily that allows users to take or add a photo from their mobile device and share it directly to their community. Other features include the ability to mention places and create documents. Others on their way include localization, enhanced metrics, enterprise security requirements and image collections.
  • New events centre – In the coming months, Jive will aim to make employee and customer events easier to manage, with the introduction of an event performance dashboard, as well as post-event metrics and sessions grading.
  • Social listening integration with Sysomos – Companies will soon be able to route conversations on social media directly in Jive-x community. This allows for the ability to listen to and respond to over a billion conversations online, in real-time, according to Jive.

Steele said that the future of enterprise collaboration requires an understanding that employees and jivecustomers have their own way of working and communicating, but these diverse ‘work-styles’ need to be unified into one platform that doesn’t force a particular approach. She said:

People are working in ways that they have never done before. And they are bringing their expectations with them, our consumer expectations of how we communicate and collaborate. All of our employees are bringing this to work. We need to be contextually aware of how people are getting their work done and what they need – not just in terms of technology – but in terms of people.

But it’s not just about diverse work-styles inside the company. It’s about how we deal with our customers in those trends that transcend into the customer environment. Every company is trying to digitise their customer relationships, you must be able to do this to communicate, connect and have an affinity in today’s world. But it’s amazing to me that only 30% of companies have a customer community.

How do we empower and engage all of our employees to be apart of that unification? How do you make your workforce not only connected but productive? These lines are starting to blur and we want to bring that really close together. Some of the best companies in the world consider their employee investment their biggest, most important investment.

The Workhub

My view is that the announcements above are useful additions to a strategy that has been being formed over the past year and a half by Steele to make Jive simpler and more useful for customers. They’re not groundbreaking, but they’re relevant when considered as part of the broader strategy.

When Steele took to the helm, one of the first things she did was introduce a number of new mobile applications that would appeal to a broader customer base. These products are now being complimented with Jive’s Workhub – which was announced earlier this year and can be viewed as the mesh that ties all of Jive’s products together and provides employees and customers with the context they need.

Steele was keen to highlight that the Workhub is going to form a critical foundation for the future development of products at Jive. It’s also what the company considers it’s niche – it’s not only providing the channels for everyone to collaborate, but is also providing the contextual fabric that ties these together to make the collaboration useful. She said:

Now if you haven’t heard about this already, you’re going to hear a lot about the Jive Workhub. The way that you use Jive, it’s at the centre of what you do, connected to all of these different things that you also need, so that you can use the technology and the capability to find anything you need. To connect with anybody you need. And to be able to search throughout the entire enterprise.

The Workhub is our engine to now drive the solutions that we are bringing to market. The solutions that many of you are using and the solutions that we are going to use to grow our business. Solutions that are more simple, easier to access and focused on solving a key business issue in your company. Truly what we are optimising for is you – the individual.

You’re in constant need of small group collaboration, being aligned with the larger department you work in, knowing your company’s strategic vision and having insight into your customers. As you move in and out of those roles, we want to provide you with the ability to get your work done and have more fulfilment in what your accomplishments need to be.

My take

An interesting morning at JiveWorld and I’m sure there is still plenty to come. There is a session this evening for media and analysts with Steele, so hopefully I can provide more insight off the back of that.

But as I’ve highlighted, this event is providing customers with an insight into a company that is part way through a fundamental shift in its approach and direction. Whilst not everything is done and dusted, it’s clear that the strategy is taking hold and we are beginning to see what the ‘new Jive’ will look like in the coming years.