Jive CEO: Consumer Services Can’t Solve Business Collaboration

In its financial results for 2015, Jive’s revenues rose by ten percent to $195.8 million (£138.4m) and the company recorded a loss of $34.9 million (£24.5m). CEO Elise Steele said the figures were in line with expectations and made the pledge to become profitable by the conclusion of 2016.

At JiveWorld 2016 in Las Vegas, the company gave an indication of how it plans to do that.

Jive was founded in 2001 and went public in 2011, raising $161.3 million (£113.1m) in a floatation that expected to generate $100 million (£70.2m). It is banking on continued demand for collaboration services that promise to change the way businesses communicate internally and externally.

The death of Ray Tomlinson, inventor of email, earlier this month led many to celebrate his achievement but also ponder why nothing better had ever replaced it. This is what Jive, and other collaboration firms are trying to achieve.

Path to profit

Steele, who previously served as chief marketing officer before assuming her current role in February 2015, is pretty straightforward about Jive’s ambitions and the size of the potential market she believes is there for the taking.

“We’ve made pretty big strides in our goal to become profitable,” she said. “We’re closer than ever to profitability. We have made that commitment … that’s something that we’ll make happen.

“[Over the next year, we want to] make sure the customers we do business with today remain happy and satisfied customers and ensure they renew their business. The other is to bring new customers into the Jive ecosystem and acquire new customers faster.”

Jive’s products are divided into three strands – Jive-n which is a business intranet, Jive-x which is focused around customer relationships and Jive-w, a range of mobile products including Jive Daily, messaging app Chime and directory service Jive Circle.

Collaboration expertise

A number of iterative rather than revolutionary updates have been detailed at JiveWorld and the company has spoken a lot about Jive WorkHub – packages of services and templates for specific industries and divisions like healthcare, HR and marketing – which was first revealed last month.

Steele says Jive can help improve communication between employees and executives, boost relationship with customers and make workers more productive by unlocking information from the various repositories that exist in many companies.

“I think social features are going be everywhere,” she said. “From that standpoint the market is everywhere.”

Representatives from 500 companies are present at JiveWorld 2016, and the company claims two thirds of the 1,600 attendees are there for the first time, something Steele says is indicative of growth. Customers include Cisco, Pearson and T-Mobile in the US, while a deal with Virgin Media was announced during the show.

“We have a strong foothold in tech and financial markets and we have a strong customer base in healthcare,” she boasted.

Business tool

Jive 9, the version of Jive for hosted and on-premise customers was also teased on stage, but Steele is delighted with the advances made with its cloud product and customers like Pearson have decided to migrate as a result. Jive also plans to integrate its mobile apps deeper within the rest of Jive’s portfolio.

“Our cloud product is so much further along than where it was,” she declared. “There are some customers who have made conscious decision to abandon customisations when moving to the cloud.”

Consumer rivals

Of course if the market is “everywhere”, then others will be keen to secure a share too. Box, Google and Microsoft have added collaborative features to their products, while there are also upstarts like Slack. WhatsApp also harbours business ambitions, as demonstrated by the recent addition of document sharing.

Facebook at Work is also imminent. Could businesses not using collaboration tools be seduced by a household name whose consumer service is familiar to most, if not all, employees? so might actually use? After all, Box offers free storage to consumers in the hope it will influence IT managers’ purchasing decisions.

Steele said Jive isn’t concerned, not least because many of its rivals lack the scope, customisability and integrations of its platforms.

“Facebook at Work is about creating an environment similar to what Jive was ten years ago,” she said. “I don’t see Facebook at Work solving the internal Internet. I don’t think Facebook is going to solve collaboration for healthcare.

“Enterprises require really strong enterprise identity, security and protection. Transcending a consumer app into the business market is though.”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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