What’s with all this Chatter business?

June 21st, 2010 by Gia Lyons Leave a reply »

I’m confused.

I just returned from an excellent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, where I got the chance to hear several Jive customers (and non-customers) share their experiences, insight, and points of view on stages, in pubs, and on a boat. There wasn’t so much as a peep about Salesforce.com’s impending announcement of Chatter. SF wasn’t even at the conference, as far as I could tell. (Jive, Microsoft, IBM, SocialText and other major SBS players were, however.)

Enterprise 2.0 folks seem to be ignoring Salesforce.com’s entry into the social business software space. Is it because many are already down the road with a chosen solution, or have a couple in their sights and are currently deciding which to select? I mean, who’s still waiting around for their vertical vendors to bolt social on?

I talked to a few folks about this, who I cannot quote directly due to legal reasons, and here are three points of view that pretty much sum it up.

Salesforce.com’s bolted-on social features aren’t designed for enterprise-wide networking, innovation, or collaboration.

This gentleman explained how he’s been in IT for 22 years, most of them spent at his global company of 400,000+ employees. He said that, with all of his vertical app vendors – CRM, HRIS, ERP, etc. – adding social features to their toolset, he’d still be faced with the task of stitching them all together before they could “get enough traction with employees across the globe to reach a tipping point. It wouldn’t be of any value otherwise.” That’s why he’s looking at a few of the major SBS players mentioned above, instead.

And, since employees have been used to going into those vertical apps for specific tasks all these years, it would be a farce to think that folks could suddenly shift mental gears from, “I go into CRM to record sales data for sales management tracking and reports” to, “I go into CRM to find experts, collaborate, and innovate the way I work.” And really, even if a mental shift happened, it would only be for those who already use the damn thing. Where’s R&D? Where’s Engineering? Where’s Legal? HR? Professional Services? They’re not in a CRM app.

York Baur, chief marketing officer with the TAS Group, seems to agree.

“What Salesforce is trying to do is encourage conversation among salespeople, whereas what Jive is trying to do is broader,” Baur explained. Specifically, Jive aims “to allow any employee to get filtered information — to let the cream rise out of all this vast amount of communication that takes place.”

Salesforce.com is also skewed toward small to mid-sized companies, whereas Jive is oriented to larger ones, Baur noted.

~ Social Net Aggregator Pushes Jive Talking in the Enterprise

Chatter is too late to the game.

I asked another gentleman, who’ll be deciding between Jive and a worthy competitor in a few weeks for eventual deployment to about 130,000 world-wide employees, about his take on Chatter. He simply said,

It’s not my fault they’re late to the party. I’m not deploying 1.0 of anything, and I don’t have time to wait for them to mature.

Word.

We’ve already got an enterprise-wide social business platform that does what Chatter looks like it will do.

Another gentleman I spoke with works in a regulated industry, in a company of about 45,000 employees, and has full deployments of Jive and SharePoint, and are in the process of deploying Salesforce now. He said that many have asked him about Chatter, saying,

“Can we do what Chatter does in [company branded Jive software platform]?” He tells them, “Yes.” They shrug and return to their social business as usual.

The analysts have related opinions.

Jeremiah Owyang and R. “Ray” Wang of Altimeter group said way back in November, in response to Salesforce.com’s social web product announcements  (which I think applies to Chatter as well):

Technology is only 20% of any enterprise change, the other 80% is culture, process, roles, and strategy change –key requirements that Salesforce is not equipped to provide.

~ Salesforce Pushes Social CRM Technology –But Don’t Expect Companies To Be Successful With Tools Alone

Since I’ve spent the last 18 months neck-deep in Jive customers’ cultures, processes, roles, and strategy change activities, I can tell you that it’s not a trivial 80%. (Related: See A Peek into EMC’s Social Business Journey by Jamie Pappas, Social Media Strategist at EMC, for a taste of what it takes to change an enterprise.)

Finally, I pinged Mike Gotta, a principal analyst at Gartner with more than 20 years’ experience in this space. He said,

[Chatter] will be good for SalesForce faithful. They think SF discovered fire. Am I missing something?

Nope. Not that I can see.

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11 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Gia,

    I grabbed your tweet and found your take on Chatter interesting. It was clear from an early paragraph that you had an affiliation with Jive Software. After I read your entire blog, I checked your About page and sure enough, I was right….you are employed (or paid) by Jive.

    That aside, your blog does bring up interesting points, but you are doing exactly what I do with Obama. (As a non-fan of Obama, I love to find the articles and opinions that play down his role in leadership and re-post, re-tweet or share with my own commentary, without posting a single positive spin.

    AND, its fine. it is obvious.

    Now, here is where I will comment on your comment.

    You, among your re-posted analyst comments are all missing the bigger Chatter picture. Its kinda like saying that Chatter is the Facebook for the Enterprise. (Similar to what Jive is now saying as well).

    Chatter/Salesforce have no intention on being the Facebook of the Enterprise. That is too easy.

    What Chatter is, if you peel it back is a social business platform that allows all database objects, apps, groups AND people to Chatter to you.

    Frankly, the bulk of the Chatter users are spending more time having their accounts, contacts, opportunities, support cases and contracts chattering to them, vs. spending too much time on microblogging. That is a tiny feature.

    In addition, the platform on which Chatter is built has now allowed 3rd party developers and ISVs to Chatter-enable their custom applications that already have direct access to the Force.com API, features and functionality of Salesforce in an instant.

    NOW, compare that to Jive/Sharepoint/SocialText and the rest of the long tail niche players.

    Does Jive pull real-time updates from Enterprise systems? Does Jive have the ability for developers to innovate and build social gadgets, widgets and enterprise-ready apps? Does Jive have 77,000 customers in a multi-tenant environment that can scale to another 77,000 over night?

    I will concede that Jive’s platform may have been first to the game from an enterprise micro-blogging app, but it is far from a platform. I have been a Jive user in my past and out of 100 people in the company, only about 6 people used Jive. The same company used salesforce.com and out of 100 people, 75+ used salesforce.com. If/when they turned on Chatter, you would have instant adoption (for free).

    Where would the need for Jive be?

    In any event, thank you for posting your take on this and I hope you spend a little more time understanding that Jive and Chatter are not in the same space. Its quite interesting.

    How big is Jive’s biggest customer and how many are LIVE with Jive and are active?

    As of yesterday, 2m people went live with Chatter.

    Is it still the same ball game?

  2. Gia Lyons says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for posting. You have some points that I’d like to address:

    “I was right….you are employed (or paid) by Jive.”
    I post my affiliation with Jive Software on the middle right portion of my blog. I suppose I should make it bigger font.

    “Chatter/Salesforce have no intention on being the Facebook of the Enterprise. That is too easy.”
    I don’t think anyone in this space is trying to be Facebook for the Enterprise, but prospects and customers use it as a reference point only, because it’s pretty much the only thing remotely similar to social business software like Jive and Chatter (you might want to tell this ZDNet blogger he got it wrong: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/greenfield/salesforce-chatter-facebook-for-the-enterprise/571)

    “What Chatter is, if you peel it back is a social business platform that allows all database objects, apps, groups AND people to Chatter to you.”
    Yep. That’s what Jive 5 is, due later this year, except we’ll have a chatter filter, so that you can see what’s important to you based on your social graph inside and outside your organization, your online habits, and the enterprise apps you choose to use. Read about it here: http://www.jivesoftware.com/newway/whatmatters

    “Frankly, the bulk of the Chatter users are spending more time having their accounts, contacts, opportunities, support cases and contracts chattering to them, vs. spending too much time on microblogging. That is a tiny feature.”
    That sounds exhausting.

    “In addition, the platform on which Chatter is built has now allowed 3rd party developers and ISVs to Chatter-enable their custom applications that already have direct access to the Force.com API, features and functionality of Salesforce in an instant.”
    Jive 5 does too. SAP and CSC will be developing some of the first apps for the Jive Apps Market, which will do more than simply send updates to a stream. Users will be able to act in third-party applications, directly from their Jive What Matters page. Read more here: http://www.jivesoftware.com/newway/socialtitans

    “Does Jive pull real-time updates from Enterprise systems?”
    Yes.

    “Does Jive have the ability for developers to innovate and build social gadgets, widgets and enterprise-ready apps?”
    Yes. I forgot to mention our Jive Widget Studio, which enables OpenSocial apps.

    “Does Jive have 77,000 customers in a multi-tenant environment that can scale to another 77,000 over night?”
    We have 3,000 customers, 15,000,000 users, both for internal and EXTERNAL communities, some of them bridged with one another, many of them in a hosted environment that they can customize with their own code, their own look and feel. Does SF do that? We are actually a customer of yours, but I’ve never gone into SF because I never needed to. Because I wasn’t in sales or marketing before (now, I am)

    “I will concede that Jive’s platform may have been first to the game from an enterprise micro-blogging app, but it is far from a platform.”
    Actually, SocialText was first to market with a microblogging feature, Signals. Jive has been a platform for years, as evidenced by integration our customers have done with content management systems, ERP systems, and even with Salesforce.com. Welcome to the club!

    “If/when they turned on Chatter, you would have instant adoption (for free).”
    Are you serious? You think that by simply turning on what are essentially voluntary features, people will use it? It’s too bad you folks weren’t at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference last week. You’d know your market much better.

    “In any event, thank you for posting your take on this and I hope you spend a little more time understanding that Jive and Chatter are not in the same space. Its quite interesting.”
    You’re welcome. Thank you for responding, and educating me on where Chatter fits in the marketplace.

    “How big is Jive’s biggest customer and how many are LIVE with Jive and are active?”
    Externally, VMware’s community platform (http://communities.vmware.com/home.jspa) enjoys over 100,000 unique visitors per day, and another large technology company in the Silicon Valley handles over 150,000 per day. There are more, but I’m not allowed to talk about them.

    Internally – and mind you, we track active vs. in-active users – our largest ACTIVE user installation is 50,000+ out of about 95,000, after about a year (see, it takes TIME for people to understand how to integrate social business software into their everyday work behavior).

    “As of yesterday, 2m people went live with Chatter.”
    No they didn’t. They were given ACCESS to it. Huge difference.

    “Is it still the same ball game?”
    Let me know when you reach 15,000,000 real users worldwide. Then we’ll talk.

  3. Gia, thank you for pointing out that Socialtext Signals was the first integrated enterprise microblogging platform.

    Chris, while Chatter is a nice additional feature for existing SFDC users, Jive and Socialtext are proven collaboration platforms which customers can integrate with other parts of their IT infrastructure. As our CEO Eugene Lee made clear at Enterprise 2.0, social needs to be a layer across all platforms, not a feature in each one.

  4. Gia Lyons says:

    Thanks, Alan. Alan is the Director of Product Marketing at SocialText.

  5. Harm Korten says:

    After reading this post several times, trying to find the point you’re trying to make, I cannot reach any other conclusion that it’s a failed SFDC-bashing attempt. 

    What’s the point you’re trying to make?? Salesforce marketing is misleading?? Chatter (social collaboration) is not new?? (Chatter) technology without user adoption is useless?? All fun things to bash and nice cliches to pull, but also all irrelevant to the true revolution that SFDC has been (and still is) unleashing. 

    What you (and the quoted ‘experts’) should have done before forming an opinion is think about what the core topic is at least a little bit and find out the broader perspective here. (Have to admit that this is largely SFDC’s own fault, since their whole chatter marketing effort is relating mainly to CRM use cases)

    Let’s forget about CRM, HRM, ERP etc here. Let’s go horizontal, let’s talk Force.com. 

    Here you have a platform, on which the world’s no 1 CRM is built, available to build virtually ANY application on with minimal effort. With this in mind, let’s assume you’re running you’re entire IT infrastructure on Force.com: CRM, HRM, ERP, Accounting, Intranet, document management, public website [..] 

    Now, let’s look at the chatter philosophy again. Do we still need Jive?

    One instantly scalable, rapidly (and seemlessly) upgrading, easy to use and administer, multi tenant SaaS platform WITH chatter. 

    It’s perhaps debatable if all the separate apps will be number 1 in their class, but it’s 100% undeniable that the package of apps and it’s foundation are unmatched.

    You will probably say this is fiction, I think it’s vision. 

    • Gia Lyons says:

      One last point, with your whole platform rant. Jive supports Open Social. Does Force.com? Is APEX as widely adopted as Open Social? Educate me.

      Also, please tell me who is running their entire IT infrastructure on Force.com. Small to medium businesses, sure. But not global organizations.

  6. Gia Lyons says:

    I made three points, made by SFDC’s potential and existing customers (translation: It’s not just my opinion, it’s SFDC’s potential and existing market that’s saying these things):

    Salesforce.com’s bolted-on social features aren’t designed for enterprise-wide networking, innovation, or collaboration.

    Chatter is too late to the game.

    We’ve already got an enterprise-wide social business platform that does what Chatter looks like it will do.

    Maybe I should make those points an even bigger font?

  7. Harm Korten says:

    Just tried to point out that chatter is only a small part of a revolutionary platform. No jive bash or other kind of hostility intended. You’re narrowing it down to a feature comparison.

    Many multinationals use force.com, only few for the entire it architecture, I agree. Loads of them WITH the vision of moving there, though. Ofcourse all in phases, no sane CTO will make such a step at once. Like no sane CTO would still buy on premiss antiquary.

    Obviously my opinion is biased as much as yours, but 1 thing is for sure… Your vision is one of connecting silo’s, I see a world without silo’s. Let’s talk again in 5 years.

  8. Billy Lloyd says:

    Sales Management is very essential in making your business succeed, every part of a business should be managed carefully.’:.