I had a chance to talk with Sam Lawrence, CMO of Jive Software about what’s coming out in his 2.5 release of Clearspace, Jive’s enterprise community software platform. (Note, we use the 2.0.x version of Clearspace to power Project Dogfood). There are a bunch of features that will no doubt get covered everywhere but very capable people. What I wanted to talk about was some of what came out in the conversation with Sam.
How Social Software Merges with the Enterprise
First, it has to integrate with the tools they understand. Sam showed me how Clearspace integrates with Salesforce.com, for instance. This was interesting. Because now, if I’m a sales guy and I’m getting ready to call one of my prospects or clients, I’ll get anything said anywhere within the Clearspace product about that company or prospect as information before I make the call.
If you’re a social software provider, or someone looking to advise companies on social software, think about this kind of usage: merging what Mzinga’s Rachel Happe calls “unstructured data” in with a typical contact record.
Easy and Easier Still
Sam mentioned that Clearspace has an email in and out feature, that allows mobile users and others to get information in and out of the platform simply, and through nothing more than an email interface (for instance). It should be easy to use a community platform, and it shouldn’t always require a full web browser. Most enterprise customers aren’t using iPhones.
Customization and Less Heavy IT Department Lifting
Lots of the changes in 2.5 might seem a bit aesthetic at first, but think about it: If you are building a social software platform and it is to be supported internally, you’ll want something that allows people to change and fiddle with most of it without a lot of effort required from IT. Why? Because they have other, bigger fish to fry. I like this as a trend, and I hope other platform providers continue to make things easily customizable, and yet not especially difficult to manage.
We have to stop thinking of social software as an island. It’s going to be part of the fabric, and that requires integration points, connectivity to the way people create business processes, and flexible enough to fit within an organization’s existing business styles. I saw lots of that in Jive’s latest release, and Sam talked about the company’s further efforts in that department for future visions.
I believe social software has a good opportunity to find its way into the enterprise in a much bigger way. There are other great companies doing this kind of thing as well. I’m excited by what I see from my friends at Mzinga, Telligent, and other platforms working in the enterprise software space.
For the rest of you looking to take your products to an even larger audience, especially if you’re hoping to become part of the way business is done, I think the future comes only once we give people adequate bridges forward from the present.
Here’s a video Jive made of their product, if you want more details:
Clearspace 2.5 from Jive Software on Vimeo.