Executive Changes at Jive and Telligent: Start of “SoftWar” in Enterprise Social Software?


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As I wrote in Web 2.0: The End of the Beginning, the market for “social business” applications is growing up. According to a July 2007 Gartner report, analysts size this emerging software market at $226M in 2007 and predict it will grow at 41% per year through 2011, reaching $707M by 2011.

No word yet on whether Gartner forecasted the recession. Or why their forecasted growth rate was pegged at 41% instead of, say, 47.68% which is my personal projection. But it’s just a rough estimate so don’t hold me to it.

Push for market leadership

In signs that they believe the time to push for market leadership is now, both Jive Software and Telligent recently made key executive appointments. You see, it’s one thing for analysts to write a report, but it’s quite another to actually, um, hire someone in this economy.

On May 19, Jive announced that Ben Kiker has joined as Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for strategy, communications and alliances. What’s significant about this is Kiker’s background: a recent stint as CMO at Interwoven (a web content management vendor acquired by Autonomy early this year) and many years in the CRM industry at Siebel, Onyx, Vantive and Clarify.

With Jive investing in such a seasoned executive who has participated in other fast-growing markets, it’s a clear signal that growth and market leadership is on the mind of Jive CEO Dave Hersh. However, since all of Kiker’s prior employers were acquired, what does that say about the exit strategy for Jive?

Funnily enough, on exactly the same day as Jive’s announcement, Telligent announced Patrick Brandt as the new CEO and a member of the board of directors, succeeding Rob Howard the founding CEO who will remain as CTO.

Speaking with both executives a few days after the announcement, I asked Brandt what he thought would determine the winners and losers in the next couple of years. He said:

  1. Product leadership: Brandt says Telligent is already “ahead of the curve” in terms of product capabilities, and as CTO Howard will focus on keeping it that way.
  2. Client value: Helping clients measure the value of social software, leveraging one key area of innovation—social network analytics.

Can’t argue with either of these points, but winning the coming “SoftWar” in this space will require that Brandt reprise his performance as founder/CEO of Skywire Software, a vendor of insurance and document management business applications. In his 8 years there, Brandt built the company to 600 employees serving 2,400 customers worldwide. And then sold Skywire to Oracle in June 2008.

Buzzword bingo

It’s obvious that all things “social” are the hot ticket right now, and that enterprises are jumping on board. What’s less clear is what to call the darn thing.

One thing that will help this space is for the key players to start using the same name for it. CRM software wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar market if vendors still used the hodgepodge of terms in play during the mid-1990s. I think Gartner’s term “Enterprise Social Software” is a reasonable name for the software market. But “social business” is still my favorite term for putting social technology to work to improve collaboration both internally and externally.

Some might say it’s a bit cheeky for Jive to attempt to name the market space as “social business software” and then declare market leadership, but hey, this is the software industry. Hype works, just ask Marc Benioff. Jive recently settled on “Social Business Software” in a revamp of Clearspace and Clearspace Community which were designed for internal and external collaboration, respectively.

Although Telligent currently uses “Social Network Software,” earlier this year Howard told me that “social can be a very dangerous word” if executives think it means playtime on the web. At this point, Brandt will only say “watch this space” as they sort out Telligent’s go-to-market posture in the months ahead.

I suspect Telligent will either decide to stick with what they’ve got, or come up with some other “social” term. Let’s face it, social is a powerful concept that can be applied to both business and personal affairs. It’s time to rally behind the idea, not wimp out and use “collaboration” or, worse, “Enterprise 2.0.”

Readers, what do you think is the right term for social software in the enterprise?


  1. Bob, this whole thingamajig about using social software/apps/technology in enterprises can be viewed at from two sides of the corporate firewall.

    Things that are restricted to the employees, inside the firewall are labeled Enterprise 2.0. Where it is more about collaboration, knowledge management – working socially.

    Things that are opened up to the social web, outside the firewall, to engage with the customers & the other players in the business ecosystem (partners, distributors, influencers, academia, etc.) would fall under CRM 2.0 or more precisely, Social CRM.

    Either ways, the basic features of these “social”ed apps are sharing & “friend”ing.

    As for the name, I could not agree more with you when you say we need uniformity in naming it.

    However, I do not buy the story about being worried for ever that the execs would think of “social” as all play and no business. Perceptions are changing already & even huge businesses, their CTOs no less, are interested in social media & networks and want it in their eBusiness/CRM roadmap or already have it!

    The perception in 2009 is not the same as it was in 2007. By 2011 it would have considerably changed.

    But there sure is a lot of hype & bull surrounding “social anything” for business. May be we need a consortium or industry body to lay down standards & definitions? Just gathering some wool! 😉

  2. As you say, the basic features are the same. So why call these applications something different for internal vs. external applications? The terminology may be good for vendors, but it’s time for everyone to get behind “social” as a business term.

    Regarding “Social CRM,” my view is that it means extending or integrating existing CRM processes and apps to customer collaboration. The best example right now is CRM systems integrating with communities or social networks. See
    Building the Social Customer Service Experience
    and B2B Marketing 2.0: How to Engage Social Buyers and Break Marketing/Sales Gridlock.

    But sales has not really joined the social movement to a meaningful degree, other than using social media as a way to get customer intelligence. Not really collaborative. See Is Sales 2.0 New? Improved? Social?.

    Yet Oracle is promoting “Social CRM” as essentially for internal sales collaboration. Has nothing to do with customers, other than preparing reps to sell to them with good old CRM 1.0 techniques. See Oracle’s “Social CRM” is Just Lipstick on a Pig. Oracle really should be calling this Enterprise 2.0.

    We need better collaboration between employees, between customers, and from employees to customers. It’s time to come up with one term.

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  3. I wouldn’t be so concern about being the first to name this new sector.

    The term PLM was first invented by SAP in 2000.

    Eventually SAP is not in the leadership circle of this sector.

    In fact after 10 years there are at least 3 vendors better positioned: Dassault Systemes, Siemens and PTC.


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