[sws_grey_box box_size="690"]SUMMARY - Salesforce.com and Jive choose the same day to beef up their external communities offerings - a symbolic sign of the times in an increasingly tough social collaboration market?[/sws_grey_box]Salesforce.com yesterday updated its Community Cloud product with closer integration to its CRM core and a pitch that compared the latest iteration to LinkedIn on the grounds that:
Companies want to create their own communities with the same personalization and mobile access of LinkedIn, that are also completely connected to their business processes.
We first saw Communities, as it was then known, two years ago, but the firm is now putting a bigger push behind it, citing IDC as scoping an addressable market for social enterprise software in the $3.5 billion region by 2018.
According to Salesforce.com, around 2,000 individual communities went live in the last year, an average of about five per day, with companies using the product including British Sky Broadcasting, Cornell University and GE Capital.
Salesforce.com also announced that Deloitte Digital has set up a new practice that can tap into more than 4,000 consultants to accelerate Community Cloud adoption.
Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice president of Salesforce1 Community Cloud, confirmed that this latest rebranding means increased emphasis on this sector of the market:
Based on the success we have seen with customers, tremendous market opportunity and support from our ecosystem, Salesforce.com is doubling down on communities with our new Community Cloud.
All of this is something of a warning shot fired over the wall at Jive, which chose the same day to roll out its latest upgrade to its own external communities offering, JiveX.
That’s the sort of timing that some might read as symbolic as the firm sees increased competition from enterprise cloud firms with social collaboration ambitions, not only Salesforce.com but also the likes of Microsoft which now includes Yammer in its enterprise Office365 subscriptions.
New elements in the JiveX Summer cloud release are said to include:
- Smarter mobile experience with a new responsive design capability.
- Greater connectivity with CRM via an enhanced JiveX CRM Connector completed with out-of-the-box templates for companies to offer private support portals allowing customers to create their own support cases.
- Sentiment and Influencer Reports for community managers to gain instant visibility of key influencers within their communities.
Colleen Jansen, vice president of product marketing at Jive Software, reckons:
Our latest version of JiveX provides a compelling external community experience regardless of the user's device, so that our clients can more effectively attract and retain their important customers and partners, whether they're accessing the community from their desktop or mobile device.
The future lies this way
But the reality is that Jive has a perception problem in the market related to its status as a standalone social collaboration player. With the likes of Salesforce.com muscling in, the inevitable speculation circulates about whether Jive is now a prime takeover candidate. Unconfirmed scuttlebutt suggests that Oracle, SAP, and Workday have all been approached by Jive about a possible merger.
Cisco’s recent decision to axe its own WebEx Social offering in favor of Jive was followed yesterday by an integration that lets users launch a WebEx call from within Jive and initiate a chat or phone call from Jive using Jabber.
All of which leads to the rather obvious speculation that Cisco might find it pragmatic just to buy out Jive and bring it into the fold.
For what it’s worth, Jive CEO Anthony Zingale is still talking bullishly, last month stating:
The external customer communities with JiveX has a different competitive landscape to it. There aren't large incumbents present typically in those. There's a real, well-defined use case around customer service or a marketing brand.
There have been a lot of failed implementations of Yammer and Chatter, and we take full advantage of those. We actually don't see Chatter very much at all anymore, and Yammer has now been included as part of the Office 365 capability to some extent.
But he conceded that there is a shift underway:
Enterprises typically have had more exposure today than they did a year ago to enterprise-wide communication and collaboration and connecting with people in a different way, and certainly more than a couple of years ago either because they tried it with other offerings or the needs have become, with the external communities, table stakes.
What’s also happening, he added, is that more attention is being paid to collaboration platforms as a whole. This is good as it raises the opportunities for firms like Jive, but bad in so far as it means more stakeholders involved and hence a slower decision-making process or what Zingale called:
a higher degree of scrutiny being applied from both procurement organizations and ultimate budget approvers at the executive level. In some cases, this is because they are making these purchase decisions within the context of a much larger enterprise transformation. They are taking time to understand the roadmap being put forward by Jive, but also Google and Microsoft, to understand how these solutions will work in concert.
While this dynamic is causing the market to move more thoughtfully in the near term, we view it as a positive development for Jive. We have made significant investments integrating into the next generation of enterprise systems, and believe that our open platform, combined with strong integrations into other leading cloud providers, provides us with a significant strategic advantage in the long term.
We, and our customers, see a strong complement between collaboration solutions, like Jive, when tightly integrated into productivity solutions like Office 365 and Google apps, transactional systems like Salesforce and Workday and content solutions like Box and Dropbox.
Neither Salesforce.com nor Jive’s announcements yesterday could be described as game-changing - the Cisco integration for Jive could prove to be more significant longer term! - but they are another evolutionary step in the social marketing industry.
Forrester’s Kim Celestre sums it up well when she says:
Today's announcements reflect my position that customer communities are becoming the tour de force of social marketing strategies. Brands will increasingly seek out the best of breed social depth tools and/or enterprise community platforms that facilitate digital interactions with their prospects and customers - on their owned web properties. In response to this demand, Jive, Salesforce and other vendors are dialling up their customer community features.
The question now is whether organizations want a standalone offering or whether something bundled tightly with other enterprise software functionality, most obviously CRM and marketing, is the preferred route.
Disclosure: at time of writing, Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP and Workday are all premium partners of diginomica.