Tibbr comes from Tibco, best known for its integration middleware and very high performance messaging, particularly for Wall Street transactions and alerts. HP reportedly flirted with acquiring Tibco last year, but it remains an independent, midsize company with a good reputation for enterprise software.
"We liked Tibbr primarily because of its integration background," said Chris Robinson, CIO of KPMG in Australia, which has several thousand users active in a Tibbr pilot project to determine whether the technology makes sense to deploy globally. "Our chief knowledge officer was concerned about having another channel that didn't integrate."
[How do you succeed in social business? See What Enterprise Social Success Stories Have In Common.]
By the time KPMG went looking for an official solution, thousands of its employees had already signed up for unsanctioned instances of Yammer, a cloud social networking service that offers a basic version of its service for free. The adoption of Yammer was evidence of a "latent interest in enterprise social networking," Robinson said. "We saw people had demand for a tool like this, because it's so easy to go out and create Yammer groups. We didn't want to be draconian about switching that off, but we do want people to move over to Tibbr."
As the pilot progressed and more activity migrated to Tibbr, "the Yammer groups withered on the vine," Robinson said.
Ram Menon, president of the social computing group at Tibco, said Tibbr succeeds where some other enterprise social software products fail because users will adopt it without the need for a corporate mandate or herculean efforts at cultural change. "When you hear, 'Oh, it's the cultural change that's so difficult,' that's because the tools haven't done the job. If the tool does the job, people are going to use it."
Tibco's integration experience "lets us pull from big, bad applications precisely the information you need and show it on your wall, as you need it," Menon said.
First released a year ago, after an extended beta, Tibbr puts particular emphasis on integrating feeds from applications, as well as status posts from users, so that social interaction can take place "in the flow of work," Menon said. Tibbr has been deployed to hundreds of thousands of employees across global enterprises, as well as smaller firms, according to Tibco. Prominent customers include Macy's, which wants to use Tibbr to share knowledge about what is happening in its stores and what is selling best, including informal input from store employees about how customers are reacting to different products, Menon said.