Jive is being bought but collaboration remains a danceathon
Collaborative Tools

Jive is being bought but collaboration remains a danceathon

It seems five minutes ago that Jive was one of the most hyped startups on the planet and now the company is being acquired for a modest (by the standards of such things) $462m in cash to become part of the Aurea set of customer experience products. In fact, Jive is 16 years old but, while the company has had a fair amount of success, the enterprise collaboration sector is one where there has been no clear winner.

The promise of the space is undoubtedly huge. Creative companies want their smart people to work together brilliantly and they always have their ears open for ways to foster that interaction. Intranets, conferencing, shared spaces, chat and chatbots, micro-blogging, customer communities, service desks, social sharing, gamification… all of these are recognised as important but nobody has become de facto. Join a conference call and it can be any number of providers hosting, usually involving the downloading of yet another piece of software and a change to your popup settings.

The teeming activity in the space underlines how nobody has nailed the problem of making tools that get people interacting and get projects done.

If you were to name one company that is ideally positioned to be the kingpin it might be Microsoft, given its dominance of office productivity applications. But over the years, a series of acquisitions has led to confusion. Yammer and Skype were acquired by Microsoft to add to Sharepoint, Outlook, OneDrive and OneNote and now the company is trying again with Microsoft Teams for chat-based workspaces. Hands up who recalls Office Communications Server or knows what happened to Delve, the company Microsoft acquired for group calendaring or VoloMetrix, the time-optimisation service it picked up in 2015. Products appear and disappear with head spinning regularity. Some remain, some have organ-donor status foisted upon them, some disappear into the vapour…

Another big contender could be Google, the biggest name on the web. But the search giant has also bewildered us with its various Hangouts efforts and its mania for renaming and changing its offers (G-Suite used to be Google Apps, Google for Work used to be Google Enterprise etc.).

Of the rest, Slack has become hugely popular with techies but perhaps less so outside that world – ditto Atlassian. Facebook At Work is unproven. Cisco, Dropbox, Box, Adobe and Salesforce are bit part players. IBM had Lotus Notes but that once revolutionary product became horribly outdated.

As I said, it’s an important segment but a confusing one: Jive is just one small competitor in a danceathon that shows no sign of ending with a winner just yet.

 

Also read:
Facebook at Work and the problem with IT consumerisation
Does RBS’s Facebook at Work move the collaboration goalposts?
You spend *how* long on email?! VoloMetrix offers effectiveness check

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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