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Email Management

Jive Software: "Email is gone"

The death of email is getting talked about a lot at the moment. Part of this is the the crazy hype surrounding Slack, which despite only having been founded in 2013, is the absolute darling of marketers, media agencies and anything or anyone else classed as cool.

Yet frenzy aside, this is just one of a slew of companies that occupy the space and now one of the ‘old guard’ in collaboration software - Jive, founded in 2001 – has made a direct bid to beat Slack at its own game with its Chime solution, launched earlier this year.

Chime is a real-time instant messaging solution that allows individuals to form groups and find people within the company and – unlike one-off solutions like Slack – fits within a wider, holistic Jive ecosystem.

“Companies need both [the wider ecosystem and the simple collaboration tool] to be the best they can be,” explains CEO Elisa Steele at a ‘Workforce Diversity and Business Transformation’ roundtable hosted in London.

Steele cleverly uses Jive as its own case study. She describes how the company got rid of its head office because who cares about corporate structure, everyone uses the software internally and “the heart of our company is our product”. She adds, since Chime was released nobody uses email anymore.

There is no doubt the Jive offering is an impressive answer to all the collaboration issues faced by the modern enterprise. By offering blogging, groups, IM and other networking opportunities it taps into a lot of the common themes of consumer social media platforms, but makes them company centric. In essence it acts like an old-fashioned common room complete with tea and noticeboard board… but on a global scale.

“There is a lot of netball in Liverpool” and theatre clubs in London says Greg Swift, CIO of Grant Thornton, which implanted the software last year. The real difficulty is, this kind of online, workplace transformation is both familiar and incredibly unfamiliar. As Swift explains this was a big investment from both a financial and cultural point of view. “If we got it wrong it would be hard to have a second go.”

Yet because it was led strategically from the top - with high profile CEO involvement [Sacha Romanovitch takes over the role this summer, a transformation itself], company appointed moderators, and a general move to make it compulsory for employees – the Jive implementation has proved very successful.

In fact, it seems to have taken root in the company. On a human point - which Swift describes as “really moving”- during the recent Mental Health Awareness Week one senior individual shared a “very personal story” and a lot of other individuals responded in kind. “I don’t think it would have happened on other platforms,” he says “certainly not on our discussion forums”.  

This ties in strongly with general behaviour on other social platforms. It has long been the norm to share online. While sites liked LinkedIn have made it possible to transcend traditional hierarchical boundaries to forge a more human connection with senior individuals who it would previously have been inaccessible. By making the process internal it takes it to the next level.

It also allows senior individuals like CEOs to communicate big company messages internally which can then be amplified via platforms like LinkedIn.  As Steele explains, her big idea about “Heart over Headquarters” first appeared on Jive, then it transferred to LinkedIn where it received 127 likes.

But the interesting part of all this is that most ambitious employees in the global workspace post their skills and experience online and use social networking groups to further their employment opportunities. And naturally, many of these will be external. Yet if they work for a large company they may have no idea of what is available inside the organisation.  

So, maybe once collaboration software has taken off full scale, all this entrepreneurial, startup interest will go out the window. After all, who needs the hard slog of starting over at different companies when you can get that job in Brazil you always wanted via a cup of virtual tea in the global common room?

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