Many of those app partners acknowledged in interviews that they are only getting started. The kind of deep integration customers might like to see will take time--and perhaps some additional application programming interfaces into the Jive system. At a minimum, what enterprise customers can get today is an easy way of providing a library of approved applications that employees can provision for themselves, as needed, and which are accessible with single sign-on from the apps tab of the Jive social portal.
The Jive Apps Market arrived as part of the recent Jive 5 update to the social software platform. Jive CEO Tony Zingale said the company is embracing the concept of an app as an application that is "very purpose-built and very lightweight," meaning it can be installed with one or two clicks of a mouse. Although the term is borrowed from the world of mobile apps, which are typically native apps for a smartphone operating system, Jive apps are typically cloud software applications with a streamlined account setup process.
What makes an application an app is that "it just works--it should be delightful to work with," said Sundar Pichai, a Jive board member who works by day as senior vice president of product management at Google in charge of software such as the Chrome browser, Chrome OS, and the Google Toolbar. "Just because an app is in an enterprise setting is no reason for it to be boring."
For Jive's partners, the Apps Market represents a new marketing channel, as well as the opportunity to leverage the capabilities of the Jive platform.
"If companies have installed Jive, that means they get and understand social and this way of doing business that is much more open and transparent," said David Stein, a co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple. That alone makes them much more likely to consider Rypple's approach to employee recognition, which allows employees to bestow social achievement badges on each other. When used as a Jive app, Rypple also posts an image of the badge and a message about why it was awarded to the Jive "what matters" news feed.
"We want to be like Zynga is to Facebook, an app that rides on top" of enterprise social software platforms, Stein said.
Similarly, Crowd Factory has turned its product for fielding special offers to users who share a promotion into an app, making it possible to prepare and launch a campaign from within Jive. Creative teams can share alternate images and other digital assets through Jive, then make their choices and import the required files into the campaign. The Lingotek app allows users to translate documents stored in Jive, and Box lets them see the files their cloud file shares within the Jive user interface, with the option of posting links to those files to the Jive news feed. Appirio demonstrated its Social Selling with Salesforce.com integration, while ThreeWill showed its SharePoint List Viewer for Jive, which deepens Jive's integration with the Microsoft portal software. That's just a sampling.
In each case, the integrations are just a down payment on what might be possible. For example, Lingotek can so far access only documents stored in Jive, not the content of status posts or discussions. You can share a link to a file stored in Box in your Jive news feed, but you can't easily send a file stored in Jive into the Box repository. Rypple is offering its basic "thanks and rewards" app embedded in Jive--the same features offered in the free version of its product--but premium features for employee coaching and career development are a click away on Rypple's own website.
Deeper integration can come in time, said Aman Manik, business development manager at Box. "This is the first step to make it happen." For all the virtues of Apple's mobile app platform, iOS has only recently opened up enough to allow two different apps--for example, Box and Evenote--to share documents, he noted, and the Jive app platform will also evolve and mature to enable capabilities that make sense, he said.
Aside from technical integration, Crowd Factory CEO Sanjay Dholakia said he is still feeling out the market opportunity. "What we want to learn is, who are the Jive customers and what are their needs? It may be that all of our apps make sense in the Jive environment. It may be that only some of them do," he said. Beyond special offers, he thinks it's likely to make sense to add Crowd Factory apps for sweepstakes, voting, and contests to the Jive Apps Market. "And because of this consumerization of apps, that's relatively straightforward to do," he said.
In some ways, the promise of streamlined and painless integration associated with apps is nothing new, echoing claims made over the years for various component software technologies. "It's all the same promise--we've just gotten better at delivering on it," Dholakia said.
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