Jive Software brings apps, algorithms to internal comms

Jive Software’s tools put what employees need in front of them, offers useful add-ons, as well. Part five in Ragan.com’s series on enterprise social media.

It seems that everywhere you go on the Web in the last few years, you get recommendations. Amazon suggests stuff for you to buy. Facebook provides lists of people you may know. iTunes shows you songs and artists you might like.

Jive Software brings that type of “if you like this, maybe you’ll like this” functionality internal with its set of enterprise social media tools. Plus, users can install apps, much in the way you can install plug-ins to your WordPress blog, to help them share and collaborate.

“What people are now used to outside of work is sharing and learning in a very different way,” says Adam Mertz, senior product marketing manager for Jive. “They don’t necessarily send emails. They don’t do things they would do at work to locate information and find answers to questions.”

The tools

Companies have the option of customizing the home page in Jive’s suite of social media tools to include some traits of a traditional intranet, such as news or other featured content. But the stars of the show are the different areas in which people can find what they need, Mertz says. “There’s a lot of different places in this platform where people can go to get work done,” he says.

First and foremost is the “what matters” area, a stream similar to a Facebook wall. “”At first glance it’s going to be familiar to them,” Mertz says. “This is really a Facebook wall on steroids.”

In addition to status updates from people that users follow, they also see status updates concerning places, projects, ideas and documents they follow. Documents are visible within the stream. Like Twitter, the system uses @ mentions to identify each of those things. So, if someone mentions a project using the @ symbol, everyone who follows that project sees that message.

Within the stream, users can like content, rate it, share it, bookmark it or reply to it. If a post is a question, users can post answers. Answers deemed correct earn users reputation points within the system’s internal badging system.

Users have the option of filtering their stream to see the most important stuff they follow. An algorithm pulls it all together based on what an individual user follows, what they’ve liked and other activity. It’s a way of keeping out the noise, Mertz says.

“It’s impossible to keep up with the [entire] stream,” he says, “even more so in an enterprise.”

The algorithm was developed by Proximal Labs, which Jive acquired in April. In addition to the filtering of the stream, users also see a sidebar with suggestions for people, places, projects and documents they might want to follow. Clicking on a “why” link shows a bar graph giving the reasons the suggestions popped up. Users can click on an “I’m not interested” button to help refine the algorithm.

Within “what matters,” users can open a “communications” tab, which is similar to clicking on the “mentions” link on Twitter. There, users can see all @ mentions of themselves, as well as projects or documents they started. There’s also an “activities” tab, where people can see what’s going on in their various apps, as well as invitations to groups.

Jive works with more than 100 app developers to provide users with applications ranging from survey tools to employee recognition software to Box, a way to share and store content. Users can rate apps in Jive’s app store, and the company has say-so regarding what apps its employees can download or view. “The enterprise controls the security that’s built in,” Mertz says.

Every section of Jive’s platform includes a spotlight search function. Users type in a few letters, and a list of potential people, project, place and document results will pop up. People can be tagged with different types of expertise so that searching for a topic calls up that person’s profile.

What’s different

Jive’s tools are the only ones to use content algorithms to connect users to what’s most important to them, Mertz claims. Likewise, the company’s focus is on the employees, not content, he stresses.

“We started from the ground up, building a platform focused on people,” he says.

Jive also features counseling for employee education and implementation of its platform. “It maximizes our clients’ success with their social business strategy,” Mertz says.

Jive’s clients are evenly split on using its software for internal or external communications, with some using it for both, Mertz says. “We bridge the external community to the internal community,” he says.

Who it’s for

Mertz says the ideal Jive client has three main traits: It has 500 or more employees, those employees are spread out geographically, and the company is “embracing a new way to do business.”

Jive has clients in industries including technology, finance, health care, pharmaceuticals, education and government, he says.

What a client says

Business media firm UBM implemented Jive across its decentralized business units worldwide with the goal of making the company feel more unified. It worked.

“UBM overall is coming to feel like a smaller, friendlier, more cohesive place as connections spread and strengthen across organizational and geographical boundaries,” UBM’s community manager, Ted Hopton, said in a case study.

Within a year, 80 percent of employees were up and running on Jive’s platform. Most report time savings and improved effectiveness at their jobs. In an employee survey, 61 percent said they’re more connected to their colleagues and the organization. About three-fourths said they had learned things about UBM they didn’t know before.

“We’ve become a far more connected organization, with countless new relationships formed through working and interacting in our community,” Hopton wrote in a blog post. “And there’s a deeper sense of company identity and pride developing, too.”

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