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10/24/2013
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Jive Customers Say Yes To Cloud

Jive customers like Nuance Communications have gone from traditional to cloud hosting, while Thomson Reuters plans to switch over its 60,000 employee social portal in 2014.

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The customer base Jive Software has built around enterprise software for social collaboration is starting to take its cloud software offering more seriously.

One of the customers Jive celebrated the most at its annual JiveWorld conference was Thomson Reuters, which says it has achieved 100% adoption of the collaboration environment across 60,000 users by making it central to functions like a global directory of employees, while combining content previously scattered across multiple intranet systems. Initially, Thomson Reuters implemented Jive in a relatively traditional managed hosting environment, but it plans to move to Jive's cloud edition in 2014, according to Tim Wike, senior director of communications platforms at the global publishing and data services firm.

Another customer, Nuance Communications, moved from managed hosting to the cloud in May in order to gain access to features that Jive was delivering in the cloud first, before delivering them as installable software. That's a pattern Jive continued with the new features introduced at JiveWorld; those features will be available to cloud customers in November, ahead of the December release of Jive 7.

[ Read more on the importance of community: Social Collaboration For Dummies Meets JiveWorld.]

The first releases of a cloud version of Jive's social intranet platform were missing features required for a large enterprise deployment, but those pieces are falling into place, Wike said in an interview. Now, all that's holding the company back is the need to be assured that the cloud edition can truly handle a deployment at his company's scale, he said. The social collaboration system, internally branded as The Hub, has become too critical to take chances with, Wike said. "If the Hub went down, it would be hard for us to function as a business."

As part of a conference awards program, Jive gave Thomson Reuters an "Engage Employees" award (see below for the other award winners).

Thomson Reuters began its first pilot with Jive in August 2011, initially targeting it at a 3,000-member learning community for IT but allowing anyone within the company to join. By the end of 2011, the enterprise social network had grown to 10,000 users. In February 2012, it was formally launched to the rest of the organization, in concert with a company reorganization that stressed simplifying the business and promoting open communications. "We came along at exactly the right time," Wike said.

His claim of 100% participation is based on statistics for employees logging in at least once a week on average, but the number using the internal social network at least daily is well over 80%. In the process of making The Hub integral to the way business got done at Thomson Reuters, the company shut down 14 other intranet collaboration systems deemed redundant, such as portals, wikis, and scattered uses of Yammer.

Thomson Reuters plans to move to Jive 7 in the first quarter of 2014, shortly after the release of the software. Because allowing employees to find other employees and locate specific expertise within the company is one of the major uses of the social platform, Wike is particularly eager to get access to the new Social Directory feature of the platform. Part of the reason Thomson Reuters picked Jive in the first place was to partner with the vendor on setting the requirements for features like that, he said.

Nuance Communications is another Jive customer that initially didn't think Jive's cloud offering was robust enough to support its business, but in the past year it has made the leap. Nuance makes software for speech and optical character recognition, including the Dragon line of dictation products and OmniPage scanning software. Kim Nelson, manager of The Voice Community that Nuance created for employees on Jive, said one of the things she was initially waiting for was better support for theming and styling of online communities in the cloud edition. Her boss, the director of corporate communications, felt strongly that the community needed to reflect Nuance branding, she said. "For him, it was a show stopper."

Those obstacles fell away as Jive made it easier to customize the appearance of a community without making source code modifications to a dedicated instance of the software, Nelson said. But what really pushed her to switch to the cloud were new features appearing in that version that Nuance needed. For example, the research and development team was looking for a better way of engaging with external collaborators -- people who were not employees but integral to a specific research project. A prime example would be IBM researchers that Nuance collaborates with on voice recognition, she said. In the cloud, Jive was introducing more flexible ways of engaging external collaborators on specific projects, without allowing them access to employee-only groups and content.

"That wasn't going to be available in the hosted version until the next release, and that wasn't soon enough for us," Nelson said. Moving to the cloud means she can take advantage of a quarterly release schedule where upgrades won't require the intervention of IT or consultants, she said.

Despite the advantages, Nuance made the switch with due deliberation, getting budget approval for professional services support from Jive for the conversion in February and actually making the change in May. "We went through probably five or six dry runs of data migration," until she was sure all the content from the hosted edition would port over smoothly and that there would be no degradation of performance, she said.

The payoff of that effort will be relatively effortless upgrades going forward, Nelson said. When Nuance went through its first quarterly upgrade in the cloud, she had a member of the IT staff check that none of the integrations to single sign-on or other enterprise systems were broken by the change, but it was very quick, she said. Jive also gives her advanced notice of the changes that are coming so that she and other online community leaders can check them out on a preview site. "I've already done that for the November release," she said.

Many Jive customers will wait and see for a while longer and some will never give up the control they get from managing software on premises or a more traditional managed hosting environment, but more of them are now taking a serious look at the trade-offs.

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