Jive Software Oct. 28 released Social Business Suite 4.0, adding integration with Microsoft Office that prompted Jive CEO Dave Hersh to claim the company is turning Office into a Google Docs-like platform.
SBS 4.0 has several new features, but eWEEK is focusing on the key areas that make this refreshed cloud computing product interesting.
Jive Microsoft Office Connector is a software module that lets SBS 4.0 users work on any Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet or presentation in Jive or from their desktop. This bridge is a big deal for users tired of the traditionally siloed workflow of Office applications, where nothing that doesn’t have Microsoft code in it may pass.
It works like this: When users create and save Office content on their desktop, it is automatically published to Jive, where the content is rendered for viewing and commenting directly from the browser. These documents are rendered in the Jive SBS cloud in full Office fidelity; in the past, users would have to download the document and view it in a separate window on their desktop, not the Internet.
Jive, which like rivals MindTouch, Socialtext, Awareness and IBM believes that the lines between social software and collaboration software have blurred, lets users view and reply to comments made in the browser directly from the plug-in in Microsoft Office.
In the spirit of team collaboration, multiple contributors can make comments and changes into an Office file in near real time, with the add-on syncing users’ changes bidirectionally on the fly. For example, one user can work on the graphics of a PowerPoint presentation while another works on the script, and both workers see changes in the file as they happen. Changes rendered in SBS 4.0 are visible in the Office file and vice versa in near real time.
This co-authoring capability is an answer to Google Wave, whose XMPP-fueled cursors bounce around the screen, allowing users to edit each other’s work.
Talking Jive SBS 4.0
Jive’s cloud computing bridge approach to Microsoft’s on-premises Office suite prompted Hersh to claim that Jive is essentially turning Microsoft Office into Google Docs.
“It’s really taking down the wall between social business software and Microsoft Office, which is a huge deal for a lot of our customers,” he said. “So many Office users live with Microsoft Office, and they need a way to elegantly combine the two so they’re sharing documents they’re creating the right way.”
Jive isn’t the first to build bridges between Google’s cloud and Microsoft’s download-to-desktop client software. Google itself launched a syncing API this year, while startups such as Offisync also have entered this race.
Speaking of bridging, Jive also fortified its Jive Bridging module. Marketing and sales teams can now go out to public Jive communities and pull conversations about customer issues or channel partner needs back into their private Jive community for internal discussion behind the firewall. They can then push their organized responses back out to the Web.
This all happens securely with a few mouse clicks, and is an important step at a time when corporate employees are struggling to respond to dialogues in online communities from behind their enterprise firewalls. This is Jive’s social CRM play, a nod to offerings from Oracle, Salesforce.com and RightNow.
Jive has also joined the race for enterprise social software on mobile devices, offering Jive Mobile modules to bring the Jive SBS 4.0 capabilities on the iPhone and BlackBerry. Jive Mobile includes a native application for the iPhone and better e-mail integration for the BlackBerry and other e-mail-enabled mobile devices.
Hersh said Jive Mobile users will be able to do anything they can do from SBS 4.0, including search profiles and participate on blogs, threads and online communities, from their iPhone or iPod Touch gadgets.
Though this is similar to functionality Socialtext is already enabling for its wiki platform, Jive is right to address the needs of its corporate road warrior customers, who need to collaborate with colleagues and partners on the go.
Jive offers SBS 4.0 in a few pricing buckets. For internal use, SBS 4.0 costs $59 per user per year, or $15,000 if Jive hosts it. The public offering is $85,000 per year for up to 250,000 page views per month. Jive Mobile for the iPhone is $10,000 per year for the first 1,000 users.