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Jive CEO: Social Tools Are Essential, Not Extras

Companies must get on the social business bandwagon or risk falling behind, says Jive Software chief Tony Zingale.

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
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Tony Zingale likes talking up his company, Jive Software, almost as much as he enjoys trashing the competition.

Jive Software is certainly one of the leaders in social business software and the first to test the market with an IPO, which has given the company a market value of more than $850 million. To hear chairman and CEO Zingale tell it, Jive is the one and only.

[How do you succeed in social business? See What Enterprise Social Success Stories Have In Common.]

He particularly enjoys dissing Yammer's freemium model, saying, "When did a customer turn from someone who gives you money or pays you money to someone who gives you their email address? All of Jive's customers pay us." The Yammer business model for converting free customers into paying ones is to "hand out a bunch of drugs at the schoolyard, and we'll come back and charge you for them later," he added.

IBM Connections is the "refurbished Lotus email system," while competitor Lithium Technologies is adding internal social networking because it's "obviously a very troubled company" that needed to adjust its strategy as the "low-price leader" in social community software, in Zingale's telling.

I spoke with Zingale by phone last week. His slams against the completion are entertaining, but keep in mind that one of the definitions of "jive" is "to engage in kidding, teasing, or exaggeration" (or maybe "deceptive, exaggerated, or meaningless talk"--see also Rob Preston's take on the flippant language of social media).

Grinding down the competition is good fun, but Zingale also wants to raise the profile of social business software as something businesses must consider a necessity, rather than a meaningless frill.

"We could not have IPO'ed the company without real, live customers," Zingale said. "This is way beyond saying, 'This will help my people communicate better, or be more productive, or it's cool if I'm 25.' We're serving large-scale, global corporations and hundreds of thousands of employees. Companies will do this because I think they have no choice, long term." Social software is the best way for organizations to organize "their single biggest investment, which for most companies is their people," he said. "They must adopt social business strategy or risk falling behind their competitors."

He acknowledged that many of the success stories for social business that he and his competitors tell are based on relatively short histories, reflecting the youth of the social software market. Yet Jive also has some long-term customers who made an early bet on its software and have stuck with it, he said. "CSC has more than 90,000 people on Jive, and they're about three years in," he said.

Zingale became Jive's chairman and CEO in February 2010 and helped guide it to its public offering. He and the founders celebrated at their January board meeting by opening a 60-year-old bottle of scotch. Zingale previously served as CEO of Mercury Interactive, until its acquisition by HP, and as president and CEO of the sales outsourcing and strategy firm Clarify.

Zingale said Jive will announce more about its plans for 2012 following the announcement of its fourth quarter and full year 2011 earnings on Feb. 7.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

Social media are generating tons of data, but that data only becomes truly valuable when examined in context. Attend the virtual Enterprise 2.0 event Social Analytics: The Bridge To Business Value, and learn how social analytics will provide the bridge to unlocking business value. It happens Feb. 16.

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2012 | 12:21:52 PM
re: Jive CEO: Social Tools Are Essential, Not Extras
When I was growing up and people were talking jive, they were talking nonsense.
Nonsense that goes unchallenged becomes fact.
Tony made the statement that "IBM Connections is the "refurbished Lotus email system,".
This statement is plain jive talk.
IBM Connections is a Websphere solution based on open standards including java and opensocial . It is not a refurbished email system.
Tony should get his facts straight and stop with the jive talk.
Maybe he is getting his media training from Marc Benioff.

In IDC's marketshare surveys for the last two years on Enterprise Social Software, IBM is #1 and Jive is a distant #3. That is a fact.

Jeff Schick
VP of Social Software
Creator of IBM Connections
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2012 | 1:35:58 AM
re: Jive CEO: Social Tools Are Essential, Not Extras
I agree with the basic message that social tools are essential. So why should vendors be afraid to let employees try out these products for themselves? End-user adoption and success will evangelize our movement better than an army of spokespeople.

The reason is obvious. According to Gartner, 70% of IT-mandated social initiatives will fail because of poor usability and adoption. In a world of overhyped products and overbearing salespeople, Yammer has the confidence to let companies experience the product before they buy it -- not just in an artificial demo environment but in real life.

Apparently Tony thinks this is "drug dealing". I guess that makes Baskin-Robbens a drug cartel for handing out free samples. In Tony's world, the salesman behind the counter would just describe the flavors to you.

Our numbers speak for themselves: Yammer has over 2,500 paying enterprises compared to Jive's 700. The freemium model has proven successful across a wide varieties of industries. I hope Tony continues to stick to his guns on this.


David Sacks
CEO, Yammer
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