If one were to take an objective look – which I did in my most recent report – at Jive Software’s product it would stand up with the best of the Enterprise Social Network products. It is, to put it succinctly, full featured. The single biggest objection to Jive, one that their competitors are quick to point out, is a perceived lack of stability in the business. As many pundits and competitors would have you believe, Jive can’t thrive. The reason, according to conventional wisdom, is that they don’t have the enterprise applications that other companies which gives a natural entry into the IT department. They lack the channel and partner reach of the big vendors as well. There has been some truth in those negative assessments. Jive is a mid-tier public company. It lacks the budgets and established partner networks of the giants such as SAP, IBM, Oracle, or Microsoft while having the need to generate real year over year growth unlike many of the small venture backed companies.
That all changes today. Cisco will now be reselling Jive fully integrated with WebEx and Jabber (plugging a few product holes for Jive) including through its partner network. Jive can now tap into the extended reach that Cisco enjoys in the marketplace from the WebEx SMB customer to the large enterprises that Cisco sells into every day. Both companies also plan to work together on product development allowing Jive to tap into the vast development resources that Cisco has at its disposal. With the announcement of their relationship with Cisco, many of the perceived deficiencies that Jive suffers from are greatly diminished. Cisco can get, in return, a better understanding of how modern collaboration products are supposed to behave.
Some people (very few perhaps) will remember that Cisco has its own enterprise social network. At one point it was called Quad and then WebEx Social. It never seemed to get much mindshare in the marketplace under either name. Jive on the other hand is an established and early leader of enterprise social network product. More importantly, “social” is in the Jive DNA while Cisco seems to lack that gene. Ultimately, this is a good match for both. What makes this relationshipinteresting is that it changes the enterprise social network landscape. Jive gains tremendous validation from this relationship as well as greater sales reach. Cisco also gains a form of validation, this time as a real player in the emerging space for collaboration.
Now, I fully expect the pundits to raise their heads up from the glowing screens of their Macbooks and say “But what if they fail to execute on the promise of the relationship?” Of course that’s always a concern. The same is true for mergers, acquisitions, and investments in startups. Things can go wrong. But if they do it well, things will look much brighter for Jive.