Salesforce this morning updated its Community Cloud product, which lets businesses set up online social communities for employees, customers, or partners. The updates include letting users set up profile pages that Salesforce compares to LinkedIn's and a closer integration with Salesforce's CRM product.
As giant enterprise vendors like Salesforce add more bells and whistles to their social collaboration products and better integrate them with other products, Jive's position begins to look increasingly difficult.
Jive is one of the last large independent social collaboration providers for enterprises and as such has been under the microscope. It has big name customers like T-Mobile, GE Healthcare, and Prudential. But it only added half as many new customers in 2013 as 2012. It's most recent earnings report indicated that sales continue to slow.
Jive was considered a leader in this market and continues to offer a solid product. But it's in a tough spot given that it's now competing head to head with established giants.
Not only that, the giants are treating their similar offerings as add-ons or even freebies. For instance, Microsoft includes Yammer, its social collaboration product, along with an Office 365 subscription for enterprises. That makes social collaboration feel almost like a feature that's been added to Office rather than a standalone product.
Even if the social tools aren't included for free, it may be easier for some businesses to add them to an existing deal. In addition to Salesforce and Microsoft, IBM has Connections, VMware has Socialcast, and storage vendors like Box and Syncplicity (EMC) are increasingly adding more tools for other kinds of collaboration.
Jive has the vendor lock-in argument going for it, for businesses that would rather spread out their investments across vendors. Plus, it has done a number of integrations with other companies so that its product doesn't operate on an island. For instance, it integrates with some CRM products. But given its slowing sales, it appears that businesses find it easier to add this kind of functionality to a deal they already have with one of the larger vendors.
It's been rumored that Jive has been looking for a buyer. Earlier this year Re/Code reported that Jive approached Oracle, SAP, and Workday about a deal but that they all declined.
Jive has recently made a couple of announcements with Cisco and just yesterday introduced an integration that lets users launch a WebEx call from within Jive and initiate a chat or phone call from Jive using Jabber.
Since Cisco said the deal with Jive would replace its own homegrown WebEx Social feature, it was hard not to wonder why Cisco didn't buy Jive. Such a deal would give Cisco a solid social collaboration play. While Cisco has a number of social collaboration features, it lacks a cohesive offering like Jive. That kind of deal could also give Jive the boost it might need to stay alive.
Such a deal could still happen but it's curious that it hasn't yet. In the meantime, Jive will have to keep trying to show why businesses should take the trouble to use its product instead of just adding on something similar for a vendor they have an existing relationship with.