Jive Buys Proximal Labs for Proactive Social Recommendations

Jive Software dips into the big data well by buying Proximal Labs for an undisclosed sum. Proximal helps provide social contextual recommendations for enterprise workers.

Jive, which loaded its board with talent from Google and Facebook as it prepares for an IPO, has purchased big software maker Proximal Labs for an undisclosed sum April 13.

Proximal is a provider of "big data" technology to enterprise social networks. Big data is the popular phrase for datasets that grow so large and unwieldy that traditional database management tools can't distill value from them.

The larger an enterprise gets, the more data it generates, and the more difficult the data becomes to manage. The issue is compounded by the glut of social media data, including user profiles, connections and other content from internal and external social networks. As a collective, these data loads can make email content seem spartan.

For Jive's enterprise social software purposes, the ability to analyze such data sets is vital for deconstructing a social graph, which entails parsing the digital connections of employees, customers and partners and how they interact.

Jive currently manages the enterprise social graphs, allowing users to search and find the right connections and talent. However, it doesn't do so as proactively as it could and perhaps should at a time when the industry is shifting to personalized recommendations thanks to Amazon.com, Netflix and others.

This is Proximal's specialty. The company's Smart Apps plug into any social media platform to provide contextualized recommendations, guided and personalized search, activity streams and "adaptive Q&A" about people and preferences.

The apps constantly "learn to improve what they do over time and adapt to users' preferences and interests," according to Proximal's Website.

Brian Roddy, senior vice president of engineering at Jive, said in a blog post Jive will use Proximal's big-data-crunching software to filter information coming into enterprises from internal and external systems, including large social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The software will proactively deliver recommendations of content and personal expertise, helping enterprise employees collaborate to improve productivity among Jive's 15 million users spread across more than 3,000 companies.

"Relevant information should find you, proactively, to improve collaboration and enable faster decision making," Roddy said.

This is the sort of competitive advantage Jive will be able to tout as it vies for major contracts versus IBM Lotus Connections, Microsoft SharePoint and Salesforce.com's Chatter, among other smaller rivals.

Proximal's employees, which includes contributors to the open-source Apache Hadoop, will join Jive's engineering group. Proximal Labs co-founder and CEO David Gutelius will become Jive's Chief Social Scientist.