Does it Jive?

So, there are a ton of companies espousing “Enterprise 2.0*” concepts and driving solutions. It’s sometimes hard to get a handle on who is doing what, but sometimes an idea just smacks you in the face. I submit to you that Jive Software is one of those products.

I’ve spent years working with dispersed development teams. Until you’ve done it, you likely won’t realize how very hard it is keeping everyone together. Great ideas are lost or bad ideas sound really good, all because the signal to noise ratio is much higher with dispersed teams. I know that I’ve seen past efforts to use everything from public .plan files to forums to wikis in an attempt to facilitate collaboration. Mostly the effort ends up focused on a specific group of developers in a specific geography, further creating the problems. While these tools are valuable atomically, their value grows hugely when they’re knit together into a viable platform.

Jive software has been around for 10 years and it’s purpose is to knit together these isolated products into a collaboration platform. But what I really love about Jive is not their product, which is good or the company, which is growing. It’s the way that they relate their product to the wider world. This starts with their name.

Can you honestly say you’ve never used the term “jive?” “Does that jive?” Perhaps you have to be “of an age,” but I know that term. The idea behind using a common term to define your company and your product is pretty cool (don’t dig too deeply into the definition, though…). The premise of the product is to increase collaboration and reduce the signal to noise ratio and the company name really helps focus on their mission. Brilliant.

The next thing is that while they lapse into traditional ways sometimes, they then refocus you on their mission again. They have the meme of “from-to” meaning going from something and to something better. They then use the greater-than symbol as a message driver. It’s effective and it’s intuitive. They’re not forcing you to consider their point of view so much as they’re using a long-standing thought process as their meme.

They also get that “social” becomes HUGE noise. We’ve all seen it. I honestly don’t care that you got to level 1236 on Xorgon. Like most of us, I made that mistake early in my Facebook life. You get overwhelmed by crap quickly in a social context, so you need a method to filter to what matters. And guess what meme Jive uses to describe that filtering? “What matters.” Again using the intuitive concept as a marketing meme.

Great storytellers use analogies to relate concepts and narratives. They find ways to relate common things to new concepts. Don’t get me wrong, there is a BS meter that we all apply to stories, too, but the question is one of resonance with the audience. In fact, that might actually be the only criticism I can level at Jive. The name, the memes, the overall message might be aimed a bit high. After all, I’m 41 and if it resonates with me, will it blend with the younger crowd?

* sorry for the craptastic definition, but that’s the only independent one I could find…

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