Following the news yesterday that Jive Software is set to be acquired by private equity firm ESW Capital for $462 million, and become part of the Aurea family of companies, executives took to the stage at the annual Jive World conference in Las Vegas today to give customers some insight into the company’s future product roadmap.
CEO Elisa Steele kept the comment on the acquisition short and sweet, as she welcomed Aurea CEO Scott Brighton to the stage to reassure customers and partners about future plans (I have a meeting with Steele later to get further details).
Steele spoke about Jive’s recent reset strategy, which focuses heavily on cloud adoption, mobile apps, an improved UX and the company’s all important contextual collaboration hub. Steele has managed to drive cloud adoption and recently delivered a profit in the most recent quarter, turning around previous financial performance. She said:
We have accomplished a lot in the past year. I can’t believe it’s actually been a year. It’s been an incredible journey. We’ve sharpened our business, we’ve made Jive stronger. We’ve strengthened our position in the market. And we’ve made some tough decisions to strengthen our business, we wanted to get to the next level strategically and financially. I want to thank you for being on this journey with us, and this journey will only get better.
Speaking on the alignment between Jive and it’s new parent company, Aurea CEO Scott Brighton said that the deal will enable Aurea to bring its focus from external customer experience inwards to employee engagement. He said:
For those of you that aren’t familiar with Aurea, what we do is customer experience. We are working with some of the world’s greatest brands to try and help them create these magical, transformative experiences with their end customers. And in a lot of ways, it’s similar to what Jive is doing, in that it’s trying to create engagement.
Those two things are part and parcel of the same thing, you can’t have great customer experiences without great engagement. You have to engage the customers to create that experience and you need engaged employees in order to deliver. Our ultimate long-term vision is to take the passion of both of those incredibly important missions and combine them into a bigger vision of how we can help organisations transform engagement.
A new cloud
Jive’s latest strategy has a strong focus on driving cloud adoption, but up until now has been delivered via its own infrastructure investments. However, following a similar trend to other enterprise software vendors, such as Infor, Jive today announced that it will be migrating its entire cloud customer base over to AWS in the coming months.
I’ve always been of the view that this is a sensible approach for late starters to the cloud game, given that it is almost impossible to compete with the investments, capability, cost and reach that AWS can deliver. It seems that Jive has come to the same conclusions.
Taking to the stage, Jive’s executive vice president of products and engineering, Ofer Ben-David, explained:
We’ve been working hard to get better and better and improve our infrastructure, our resiliency and architecture. But as much as we have improved a lot, we know we are not completely there and we know we can do better. So I’m extremely happy and excited to announce that at the beginning of Q3 that Jive will be moving to a new architecture, running on AWS.
This architecture will provide significantly better resiliency, redundancy, availability, security and of course improved time to market. We are going to start migrating our cloud customer base in beginning of Q3 and expect to finish by the end of the year.
The importance of identity
The rest of the keynote mostly focused on the new capabilities and features that Jive will be introducing to its collaboration hub, which is intended to provide context to the collaborations that take place across an enterprise.
Jive sells itself as one of the few collaboration vendors that can tap into both internal and external networks and applications, providing a view of a networked ecosystem that not only helps improve the way organisations work, but also provides actionable insights for decision makers.
It’s latest attempt to take this further is through the introduction of a new ID platform, which claims to “connect networked ecosystems through universal identity” - meaning that people will be able to seamlessly interact with content and colleagues across their employee, partner and customer communities.
We believe that this new service is so critical, it is so fundamental, to everything you will need to be doing in the Jive Collaboration Hub - this new Jive ID enables us to redefine the network the way we used to know it until today. This is big. With this new Jive ID you will be able to create one holistic eco-system with your entire network, whilst still being able to apply the right policy, with the right security, with the right membership for the different use cases.
Hunger Middleton, VP of product management, added that the ability to connect external and internal applications to Jive Content ID at the system level will mean that users can find and collaborate on content that they need in the community, when they need it, without any extra import actions from the user. Jive announced a new enterprise search function, enabled by the new ID platform, to support this. Middleton said:
Jive Content ID enables a revolution in enterprise search. When you connect your critical business systems to Jive Content ID, Jive becomes a universal search solution that is far more valuable than any other search solution in the market today. You have a unified index of all the content across the connected systems, not a federated bunch of lists. Users get a seamless experience of finding something to working on it, not just a redirect to other systems.
This has been a holy grail in enterprise search. The other search companies can’t do this, they don’t have the collaboration platform. And search relevancy takes a major leap forward, using social signals from our work graph to enhance search algorithms. Search should not be a separate app, it’s fundamental to the collaboration cog.
Finally, Jive also announced improved intelligence capabilities around its collaboration hub. John Schneider, VP of product management executive, explained that Jive makes use of ‘corporate memory’, which is the meta data surrounding the interactions between people in and across organisations, but also the interactions between people and other systems, applications and data. Jive calls these ‘work signals’, which feed into its AI WorkGraph and claims to form a “network virtualisation” of how work gets done in the enterprise.
And what’s great about it, is that it gets smarter the more that you feed it. Driving modern workplace experiences and improved business operations has the potential for generating additional profits for your business.
Some of the capabilities include, Schneider said:
When an executive sends a communication, he or she will know, not hope, that the communication is received. When pulling together a team to accomplish something big, you will know, not hope, that you have the right people on board and there is no guess work. When a customer asks a question, you will know, not hope, that your network of employees, partners and other customers come together to help that individual with the answer accurately and quickly. We’ve proven that you can achieve these outcomes.
It can accelerate time to market - this algorithm looks for two things. The first one is that it looks at your team and asks the question, does this team have the right external connections to other experts in the organisation, bringing in those new ideas that will break group think. Then second, within the team itself, is there cohesion and is there a proven track record to make sure the problem gets done?
The product announcements coming out of Jive this morning area all sensible and are features that you would expect to see in a comprehensive enterprise collaboration platform. It’s promise to connect both internal and external communities, as well as application silos, via an ID platform and new search features, sounds promising.
As mentioned above, the AWS move also makes sense - a company like Jive can’t compete with its investments and scale.
However, there still isn’t a clear idea of how Jive is going to fit within the Aurea set of companies, and how this will guide future investments. Steele and Brighton were very positive on stage, but details were thin. Look out for more details in our write up from our interview with Steele later this week.