Do Companies Need Vendors Like Jive Software?


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Jive is perhaps one the most recognizable names in the enterprise collaboration space and many would argue that they are miles ahead of the competition. However, a part of me wonders if organizations interested in enterprise collaboration are even ready for Jive yet. One of the keys to success for organizations seeking to deploy these collaborative tools (from the vendor standpoint) is ease of use, intuitiveness, and RELEVANT feature set. It seems as though Jive can do almost anything, but is that really what organizations need or want? Many companies are just trying to hang picture frames and Jive is trying to offer the ability to tear down walls.

I’m finding that many times organizations just want a tool that can help them solve a particular problem whereas Jive offers an entire tool-kit, and then some. Penn State chose not to go with Jive not only because they were too expensive but because they were just too complex. Jive wants to be all things to all companies and I’m wondering it that might hurt them in the long run. Jive’s robust feature set might also be their biggest problem. I’ve also spoken to a few vendors last week, several of whom are in the process of taking existing clients AWAY from Jive for precisely that reason. In fact I also heard an interesting story that an un-named organization took just over 9 months to deploy a Jive instance…wow!

Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become very successful precisely because they were so simple to use and get started with.

There’s no question that Jive’s feature set is second to none, their analytics is top notch, the platform can be used internally and externally, their mobile functionality is great, and you can also build your own customized apps. All sounds great right? But, I really wonder how much of the Jive functionality is actually being used by organizations deploying these tools; 20% 50%? Organizations are showing plenty of success with tools such as Yammer, Thought Farmer, Confluence, and a host of other more intuitive, MUCH lower cost, and simper to use tools. So why the need for something as robust and complex as Jive? Do you really think that organizations seeking to deploy these tools are asking for and using everything that Jive offers? My guess is no. I also understand that every organization has different needs and goals.

I think a part of the reason that companies go with vendors like Jive is for insurance. Meaning that they want the ability to do some of the things that Jive offers just in case the need might arise in the future. Even though the vast feature set isn’t currently needed, people want those options. Another reason I believe companies go with Jive is because they know that Jive will be around in the future so there is the sense of security that your collaboration platform will still be up and running. Finally, I think that many organizations don’t know what they don’t know. The industry is still not mature and so the first decisions or deployments that organizations make are not always be the best ones. Perhaps as more organization continue to use Jive they will begin transitioning away from them to more intuitive, low cost, and simple to use tools? Or on the flip side, perhaps Jive will continue to make a ton of money and grow!

Is Jive a bad company? No. Does their product suck? I think Jive is actually doing some great things and I’m very impressed with their growth and ambition. But these questions still linger in my mind. What do you think? Am I completely wrong here?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jacob Morgan
I'm a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and futurist who explores what the future of work is going to look like and how to create great experiences so that employees actually want to show up to work. I've written three best-selling books which are: The Employee Experience Advantage (2017), The Future of Work (2014), and The Collaborative Organization (2012).


  1. Jacob
    To answer your last question first – I think you’re very wrong and I’ve got to say I’m not following where you’re going with this post? I find the last few sentences of your post both confounding and infuriating.

    To assert – from your position as Jacob Morgan – that Jive might be seeking to simply grow and make a tonne of money is poor. If you’re seeking to undertake critical vendor evaluation then you’d do well to do so from a more empirical foundation.

    Reading your post, I can’t help but feel you’re on a rant, seeking to penalise Jive for being innovative – for seeking to push the community and their customers out of a comfort zone and into the world that both you and I are seeking – this is what you’re seeking right? I’d hate to think that you’re masking some form of prejudice against Jive.

    Is Jive perfect? No. Of course not. But then again, neither is Yammer,, Atlassian, et al. They all have their strengths, weaknesses, and nuances. And as you note, many companies simply don’t know what it is they want either now or into the future – which is why Jive’s approach of pushing innovation and grand ideas that are independent of their product are so important.

    I think you’ve belittled Jive’s position in the market by calling into question how or why they justify their value proposition with their customers. This is ultimately a business decision between the prospective customer and Jive – maybe you have access to client side data – that you’ve not shared this is reflects badly on CMG.

    Happy to argue the toss – but mate, you’ve missed the point here.


  2. > but mate, you’ve missed the point here

    Hello Mark,

    I’d be interested to hear what you think the point is.

    It seems to me that Jacob was warning against a ‘one big answer’ approach where one or several small answers might be better, at least for now. I didn’t read his article as an attack on Jive.

    I know a few large user organizations that are preferring local, lightweight SaaS offerings to a single more complex social product, whether on-premise or SaaS. (Yes, I know Jive is available as SaaS but I don’t think that’s where their heart is.)

    These users are not exactly going in for Kleenex computing (use once and throw away) but they do see these local installations as part of a learning experience. I think that’s sensible of them.

    To answer Jacob’s question: yes, but not all of them and not necessarily yet.



  3. Mark, I didn’t read Jacob’s post as tossing brickbats at Jive. IMO it’s fair to question whether a large social business “suite” vendor like Jive (Lithium is another) is the right solution.

    My view is there is room for both large suite and “point” solutions. Large multi-function suites appeal to some large enterprises because:
    1) they are attempting to be more strategic and find a solution that will support them for a long time.
    2) thee want the perceived safety of a larger vendor.

    Siebel certainly benefited from the large suite approach in CRM, and SAP in ERP. Both had challenges in delivering on their promises and had customer sat issues.

    Of course, the the best-of-breed approach has its own set of issues — mainly integration. But this more “tools” approach advantage is being able to attacking specific “point” problems and delivering a clear ROI sooner than a broader platform. In our prior research in CRM we’ve generally found point solution vendors have higher customer satisfaction.

    Over time, the industry seems to favor the larger suites as a software category matures. A couple of years ago I remember seeing a lot of social business solutions for blogging, status updates, etc. Then that changed quite rapidly. There are a lot of vendors like Jive offering an integrated suite. I wrote about a few two years ago in

    But as the industry consolidates common function, new vendors offer new point solutions. And on it goes.

  4. Hi Mark,

    The post is coming from a point of observation and as a prospect client of Jive noted on, this is something they were heavily considering when deciding on whether or not make the investment. “Simply grow and make a ton of money” is not done so simply Mark and many companies are struggling to do this. Yes, this has been a strong goal for Jive in their quest to IPO.

    I have nothing to penalize Jive for, I have good relationships with the company and they graciously invited me to their user conference last year. I think the work they do and the innovation they show is great, however I’m not sure if most companies are ready to invest in what Jive offers.

    The point of the post is to get organizations looking to deploy these tools to consider what exactly they need and why. Do they need a complex and expensive tool-set like Jive or can they achieve their goals with something more cost effective and intuitive? Jive in my opinion is far ahead, perhaps too far ahead and organizations are just not ready for what Jive offers.

    I’ve been conducting a series on enterprise collaboration case studies and at this point none of the companies I have interviewed mentioned using Jive for precisely the reasons I outlined above, so clearly this a concern for companies.

  5. Roger
    I get the point Jacob was trying to make – I’m just perplexed that he singled out Jive, particularly by including the reference to Penn State and price. How do we know that Penn State had reasonable budget or scope expectations?

    The point about “one big answer” is not unique to social software solutions – a point Bob noted in his comments. I actually share Jacob’s observations as I’ve also been frustrated at the complexity of the platforms, pricing models etc – and not just Jive – Atlassian and Drupal are also guilty of this.

    My take away from Jacob’s post is that we (as consultants or technology experts) still have to work hard to ensure that prospective clients are focused on the old-school IT basics of understanding what they (the client) want to achieve and can afford to spend.

    The enthusiasm of what we could do needs to be tempered with the reality of what we should do.

    Cheers Mark

  6. Jacob
    I wasn’t aware of the related article – thanks for mentioning this.

    I do understand your sentiment – but I was perplexed that the post read, and still reads as a focus on Jive as opposed to the broader issues of vendors innovating way ahead of the market’s ability to consume or derive value from their products – as I noted to Roger, this is not unique to Jive…

    I get the feeling your talking about the need by vendors to demonstrate financial viability (which directly translates into sales and marketing activities) versus the realities of life inside the enterprise.

    Strange bedfellows indeed

    Cheers Mark

  7. > I get the point Jacob was trying to make…

    Hello Mark,

    I’m sure you do but you still haven’t said what you think the point is that he didn’t get (see the end of your first post).

    > The point about “one big answer” is not unique to social software solutions

    Of course not — it’s been around since the days of MIS on mainframes — but we’re talking in a social networking context here. As you rightly say, the people who are adopting products for this seem not to have learnt the lessons of earlier computing eras.




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