I had the opportunity to attend my first Jive World conference this year and while I did not get a chance to stay as long as I wanted I did learn a few valuable things about both Jive (newssite) and the current customers.

This year Jive held its annual conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco (rumor is that next year it’s going to be in Vegas!). For those of you not familiar with Jive they are a social business software solution which allows companies to deploy and integrate both internal and external communities. Jive has received numerous accolades and has recently been positioned in the “leader” section of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report on Social CRM, externally facing social software and social software in the workplace.

First, a brief overview of the conference with one caveat which is that I did not attend all days of the conference. After my little mishap (in which there was no record of my registering or signing up) I was finally able to enjoy myself.

This year the conference boasted over 600 attendees (from what I am told) which is around double what the conference saw last year -- a testament to both Jive’s success and to the social business industry growth as a whole. There was a lot of information to take in and I found myself running around from session to session getting bits and pieces of information from all the great speakers. The food was fantastic and there were plenty of interesting conversations in the lobby of the hotel. Jive also provided attendees with both a morning runners club and yoga club option to help attendees start their days. 

Talking about Community Strategy

I must confess that I always thought Jive was overpriced and even a few speakers during the event joked around on stage saying things such as, “…because we all know Jive is such a bargain.”  Yet these large enterprises continue to shell out the cash for this premium software solution. I got the sense that many of these organizations are not looking at community strategy as a long term goal. 

I asked several folks at the conference where they see their communities and social initiatives in the next 3 years and when I didn’t get shoulder shrugs or blank stares I received candid “we’re not sure” responses. This is one of the reasons why I believe that most of an organizations budget for these type of initiatives needs to go towards strategy and not towards tools.  

Talking About Integration

Another common discussion that I was involved in was with large enterprises that are currently seeking a way to integrate all of their existing portals into one solution and how they can make that happen. Definitely not an easy question to answer.

Talking About Metrics

While Jive World was rich with customer success stories and experiences I got the feeling that actual metrics were still an issue and being able to tie those community metrics to a specific business outcome or objective. 

Take the Charles Schwab presentation by Stephen Maiello for example. Stephen was clearly able to show how community users are some of the highest value and conduct the most transactions, yet he made a very clear point to note that these customers are not high value nor do they transact more as a direct result of the community, these are just high value high transacting customers that just happen to be a part of an online community. Charles Schwab is one of the many companies that is implementing Jive strictly externally for now but is looking to deploy a similar solution internally for employee collaboration.  

Stephen also laid out a very clear set of goals or business problems that Charles Schwab is faced with along with metrics to measure those goals (for example customer attrition), however to my knowledge this is not something that they are currently able to measure…yet.

Although Jive currently does offer some out of the box analytics solutions it was my understanding that there’s soon going to be a much more flexible way for users to customize the metrics they wish to use and the variables they wish to track. 

Getting the Most Out of Your Social Business Platform

Dion Hinchcliffe from the Dachis Group also provided a very dense yet compelling presentation on strategies organizations can deploy to get the most out of their social business platforms. His presentation can be summarized in his overview list of best practices which are:

  • Understand how to set up next to the “old guard” within the company
  • Overcome the fact that the enterprise is NOT the web
  • Lightweight master data management is crucial
  • Focus on enabling highest value interactions
  • Have a social business strategy and process with all the necessary moving parts

The Jive Marketplace

The most impressive new product enhancement at Jive World was the widget builder and the marketplace. Both of which are ramping up quite quickly. Think of it like this. If you’re looking for a table then Jive will provide you with the actual wood you need to make that table. That’s the best analogy I can think of to explain what this marketplace will look like.  

To put this into a practical example: Let’s say that your customers are having a threaded discussion about you on one of your external communities. You have the ability to turn that threaded discussion into a widget that you can then place on an internal community site to get your employees to resolve an issue or respond to feedback. 

The new marketplace is pretty much going to allow you to integrate and customize the heck out of any community platform, but of course some technical resources on your end (or via the Jive professional services team) will be required. 

Let’s say for example that you develop an external form field for one of your communities that you want to connect directly to a CRM system of your choice…yep you will be able to do that. You should literally be able to connect anything you want (from what I was told). 

Final Thoughts, More Reading

Overall I had a great time at the conference and I wish I was able to attend more of the sessions. Barb Mosher also wrote up a great overview of some of the key announcements and releases from Jive. 

While Jive is still the most expensive player in the social business market they are also without a doubt the most robust, comprehensive, flexible and feature rich social business solution on the market today. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future roadmap holds for Jive. 

If you attended the conference or have anything else you’d like to add, please do so in the comments.  What was your favorite part of the conference?