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Making Social Business a Success

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to see a sneak peek of Jive 5 at a private view in London. Now whilst I’m not in a any position to reveal any details (that would spoil the surprise and impact of Jive’s forthcoming launch of the new release), I can say this however – what I saw I liked. And whilst I expect that the new features will grab the headlines when it’s unveiled, what struck me was the consolidation of one aspect Jive have already publicised pretty widely, namely the role of Jive Apps in the future of the platform.

Quite why I like Jive Apps is something I’ve blogged about lately (On Pace and Panarchy). In a nutshell, I like the approach in that it offers the potential of solving the paradox of how we square the business need for stability with the competitive need to be agile. In this model, we have a core transactional layer characterised by slow moving but stable business proceses and a faster changing more agile interaction layer. This model can be applied to an architecture or a platform, the latter we have the core Jive software release and then the ability to provide a customised layer of either bought in pre made or bespoke applications.

Jive already supports a range of these Apps, from Box allowing easy and secure file sharing; through to quick translations via Lingotek and Tungle.me for meeting planning and organisation. Using the OpenSocial standards, there is also nothing to stop companies developing their own bespoke Apps to meet specific needs. What’s more, this does not mean a complete free for all of rogue applications. Precisely which applications are available for users, is centrally controlled via the Jive admin console, allowing for far better management than the anarchy vs. IP blocking approach.

But before anyone gets excited by all these new toys, it’s worth taking both a deep breath and a step back. All the technology in the world will not solve a business problem and this goes for all the social platforms, Jive, SharePoint, Connections as well as their add on Apps. Problems are solved (and perhaps created) by people. The purpose of all these tools is to get people working in new and better ways. But before we look at how we might achieve this, let’s spend a moment looking at what we mean by ‘better’ and how the numbers support this.

Two recent research publications are of note here when looking at the benefits of social business software. The first is from Jive themselves who asked their customers what they thought Jive software brought them. The results pointed to core benefits in employee satisfaction (30% increase), customer retention (31% increase) as well as the bottom line (26% increase in web site sales). Jive software customer survey reveals state of market The 2nd was from McKinsey The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday The McKinsey work differs in only one way to the Jive report – its numbers are stronger, pointing to even higher benefits, with an elite group of early adopters doing even better.

This all looks well and good. There’s new technologies available, with data on its efficacy to support the desire that they can help people work better and successful case studies to aspire to. So surely, all that’s needed then is to roll out the software and productivity, employee satisfaction and sales will rocket? Oh if it were so easy. Like many fine things in life, it takes a lot of effort, ingenuity, patience and process to get it right.

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