Jive has been making the news quite a bit recently. A few weeks ago, their CEO Tony Zingale said "Free products don't deliver. We can talk about free trials, free use models to get people to engage, but freemium in the enterprise -- write it down, it's dead." Then a few days ago Zingale said, that the notion of “Facebook for the enterprise” is also dead.


Now before you agree or disagree with these statements you have to consider why Zingale is saying these things to begin with.

For many of the large enterprise software vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and Saleforce, they are literally giving away their collaboration products to organizations that are using their other solutions. For example, many companies that use Office 365 get the Yammer bundle for free, and the same is true for organizations that use Salesforce (who get Chatter for free).

Jive as an organization can’t offer their product for free or they would be a very short lived company. It’s actually quite interesting to see how Jive, which is quite a pricey piece of software, is competing with other vendors who are literally giving away their product for free. In that type of an environment, of course you would say that anything free is and should be dead.

Taking Collaboration for a Test Drive

Personally, I don’t think freemium for the enterprise is dead, at least not entirely. I think trying free tools still make sense for some organizations that are learning about collaborative platforms and how they can be applied to their organization.

I’m oftentimes amazed at how many people have never seen of or heard of Yammer, Jive or Connections. In these situations creating a free account for employees to play around with is exactly what they need to help them “get it.”

However, for organizations to take things to the next level I completely agree with Zingale, they do need to move beyond the free tools and the trial accounts if they want to see results. It’s not just about writing a check just to write a check (even though valuable things usually do cost money).

Organizations that pay for enterprise social software usually make the commitment towards building a collaborative organization and put the necessary resources behind that in terms of education and strategy (as well as other technology costs, such as integration). Organizations stuck in the “free tool” mindset usually see mediocre results if any because it’s just a box that they can check off for something that “they did.”

Paying for Results

So what makes Jive so special? Recently they have been spending a lot of time focusing on shifting away from “social” and moving towards “the future of work” and business value. It actually relates to a phrase I like to use, “social is what happens when you take the business value out of collaboration.”

Their shift towards business value is much more than marketing speak though. Based on some recent research they did of their customers, Jive found that companies using their platform realize a:

  • 15% increase in worker productivity
  • 2 to 4% increase in top line revenue impact
  • 24% reduction in employee turnover rate
  • 34% reduction in time looking for information and expertise across the company
  • 21% reduction in email load

These are just a few of the numbers that Jive has shared with me. I've always been interested in the impact that these new technologies and approaches have on individual employees and Jive has some interesting stats there as well. From the same research:

  • 38% have a higher job satisfaction rate
  • 61% feel more connected to their colleagues
  • 29% better understand their company’s strategic goals

These are all great numbers to see which are being used as the Jive ammunition to fight the competition and I think it’s great.

Don’t get me wrong, I still see value in the intangible aspects of connecting and empowering an organization and I believe that connecting with others is a core human component of what makes a lot of this tick; but at a certain point business leaders want to know what this means for their organizations.

Is Jive the only company doing this? Definitely not, but they are certainly one of the most aggressive, and that’s a good thing!

Image courtesy of Petrenko Andriy (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more by Jacob, check out Comparing and Evaluating Collaboration Vendors