Jive Updates Enterprise Social Networking

IBM's Lotus Connections, Facebook, LinkedIn and other players are approaching enterprise social networking, but Jive Software wants to take some market share of its own with its Social Business Software platform. Jive claims that its software's collaboration and profile features could make it "Facebook for the enterprise."

Jive Software has released an updated version of its Social Business Software platform, designed to take its own share of the rapidly growing enterprise social networking market.

SBS, currently in Version 3.0, allows employees and partners within companies to set up personal profiles and interact with each other via a Facebook-style dashboard. Like that popular social network, employees within a SBS network can set up groups, display the activities they're working on and interface RSS.

Jive has introduced some enterprise-friendly aspects into the platform, though, including video.

"YouTube is just not OK for corporate communications," Sam Lawrence, CMO of Jive, said in an interview. "Companies have tons of training videos and product demos. Our videos are ratable and bookmark-able; people can have conversations about them, share them and go full-screen with them."

Social networking has long targeted the enterprise. As early as 2003, companies such as LinkedIn began to develop networking solutions, soon by players such as IBM with its Lotus Connections, which boasts of itself as "social software for business."

IBM Lotus Connections 2.5 even includes a "Twitter-style" microblogging tool, along with internal wiki software, in an attempt to make it a more robust messaging and collaboration service.

Even traditional social networking sites have adopted enterprise-friendly aspects. On March 4, Facebook announced that it was creating new public profiles that would allow businesses to post status updates, videos and photos in the manner of the site's individual user profiles.

Lawrence feels that a broader social-networking application, such as Facebook, can't replace what a specifically designed solution such as Jive brings to the enterprise.

"If you think about Facebook inside the enterprise, it's great for connecting people, but there's a ton of business application around creating documents and content, making social decisions and so on." Facebook could very well lack when placed against an application "purposely built for solving problems in a business environment."

Some analysts see social networking as playing an increased role in the enterprise in coming years, provided companies figure out the best way to make it work for them.

"The success [of enterprise social networking] is going to depend on the vendors being able to define two things: The increased efficiencies that a company could potentially get from it, and second, the ability to quantify the financial benefits," Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said in an interview.

King did add, however, that a demographic change within the business world might compel companies to eventually adopt some sort of social networking solution.

"The conventional wisdom is that - and this was expressed by IBM with Lotus Connections - as younger people who are engaged in social networking come into the work force, they're going to expect to see these solutions [in a work context]. If they don't see them, they're going to be feeling held back."