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Enterprise Resource Management

Tibbr Puts Tibco in the Zeitgeist

Tibco might appear an unlikely parent but with its Tibbr tool for business conversations, the company appears to have a trendy hit on its hands.

Think of Tibbr as an enterprise-grade version of Twitter and you’ll get some idea of what the firm is up to. In short: letting big organisations swap messages in a lightweight, user-friendly manner without the Fail Whale popping up at regular intervals, and with security that means messages are only read by those allowed to read them.

Tibco made its $1bn annual revenue stream in the engine room of IT from middleware, integrating complex systems at large organisations beset by the challenge to make sense of a mish-mash of hardware and software. Tibbr, by contrast, is a service that fits into the IT consumerisation fashion for making business systems behave more like social networks. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that erstwhile ex-CMO and Tibco veteran Ram Menon has been detailed to run it as a separate business unit.

“It’s obviously part of Tibco but it’s different,” Menon says. “The way we are deploying is different, the people we hire are different, the sales people are different, the people we sell to are different.”

January 2011 saw Tibbr pick up its first customer and now there are 1.5 million paying users across 104 countries and 160 customers. Roughly three-quarters of Tibbr corporate customers have been at one point users of Yammer, recently acquired by Microsoft. Most are replacing rather than running the systems in parallel, he claims, and 60% of user organisations are not running other Tibco software.

Yammer, he says, is marketed as “Facebook for the enterprise” but “friends peter out at the second corridor” in the office. Another rival, Jive, is “a content management company masquerading as social software company”. Continuing to talk a good fight, Salesforce.com’s Chatter is limited by its ties to the core sales force automation service, he says.

Accounts today extend from installations of about 100 users to half a million in one case. The Tibbr story plays well in a world where CIOs are having to satisfy demand for bring-your-own-device/app programmes.

“A lot are struggling to have the lightest level of control but give users what they want,” he says, and Tibbr offers a combination of serious scalability and security with a consumer-style experience, effectively creating “a mini LinkedIn” community within the organisation.

“Monolithic enterprise software, where every piece of your business process sits in one big app, is dead,” Menon says, and the challenge is to provide systems that work across the highly distributed and fragmented set of tools companies employ today.

At its user conference in London earlier this month, Menon showed off the latest version of Tibbr with a new, slick ability to set up meetings by integrating with WebEx, Google Hangouts, Skype or other conferencing servcies. It looks a terrific way to switch from conversations to ad hoc web conferences where meetings can be played back afterwards.

Menon sees applicability for Tibbr across usage models, pointing to government, medical first responders and airline flight staff. It’s a very zeitgeist-y service and the opportunity for viral expansion is high.

Martin Veitch, Editorial Director, IDG Connect

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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