Whenever I attend a conference as press, as I am at this one, I receive a lot of requests for meetings with vendors while I’m at the conference. I had so many this time that I had to turn some down, and they keep coming in even while I’m here.
Today at lunchtime I had my first vendor interview with Matt Tucker, CTO of Jive Software. Jive makes an collaboration product in two main flavours: Clearspace, for enterprise collaboration, and Clearspace X, for community collaboration. Although based on the same platform, they have a few differences in functionality, such as reporting, and the pricing models are different: $29/user/year for the enterprise version, and internet-type user band pricing for the community version.
I really like the standard interface because it treats all content types — blog posts, online documents, wikis and discussion threads — the same, and combines them in the “What’s New” section. There’s a shared tagging structure between all of these types of content, so it’s really topic focussed rather than having the focus on content type that many enterprise social software suites have.
It has the expected functionality of RSS feeds everywhere you look (person, space, thread, or a specific piece of content), as well as email notifications for the old skool types who haven’t figured out RSS yet.
The company heritage is as the creator of discussion forum software used by 1,800 customers, including Apple (for their discussion groups) and SAP. There are migration tools to move from the old product to Clearspace, and a few customers are starting to migrate; there are approximately 25 customers on Clearspace today since its release five months ago, although not all of those are conversions from the old product. Although they have a project in the works with a university that will expand to 10,000 users consisting of faculty, staff and students, their largest active customer are in the 200-user range. VMWare is one prominent customer that is in the process of moving from the old platform to Clearspace for their community discussion forums.
The technology is Java on the back end, running on Solaris, Linux, Windows, OS/10 and probably your toaster; any application server; and eight (if I heard the number correctly) different databases. Although a few customers consume it as a hosted solution, most are taking it in-house and customizing it for their own use. Although Jive’s professional services group does a lot of the customization, apparently a savvy development group within a customer may also do the customization with a minimum of training.
In the future, they’ll be adding on more per-user personalization, such as content filters and views; they’ll also be adding more lightweight document approval workflow functionality, such as deadlines. This is the second vendor that I’ve talked to today who has mentioned workflow/process management in the context of a true Enterprise 2.0 product, and I know that there will be more interesting developments in this area.