Jive adds Office 365 connectors for its enterprise social suite

The new tools link Jive with the cloud versions of Outlook, Office, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business

Jive has built links between its enterprise social networking suite and Microsoft's Office 365

Jive has built links between its enterprise social networking suite and Microsoft's Office 365

Jive has built links between its enterprise social networking (ESN) suite and Microsoft's Office 365 to let users leverage Jive collaboration features with the cloud versions of Outlook, Office, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

ESN vendors like Jive realized years ago that for their products to gain adoption in workplaces, they have to be threaded into the third-party applications that workers use every day, like the ones for email, CRM, ERP, accounting and the like. That way, users can tap their third-party software from within the Jive interface, and vice versa.

ESN software that is isolated from the daily-use business software of a company is unlikely to gain traction among users, because it becomes yet another stand-alone inbox of sorts that they need to check and maintain. In that sense, ESN software's adoption dynamics are different from the consumer market social media services it's modeled after, like Facebook and Twitter, which are at the center of the universe of complementary apps built around them.

Most ESN software providers, then, build custom connectors for popular business software products. They also provide APIs (application programming interfaces) so that enterprise and commercial developers can create their own integrations. Jive has already developed connectors for products from a variety of other vendors, including Box, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Google, Salesforce and, of course, Microsoft.

However, previously rolled out integrations for Microsoft products, including Outlook, Lync, Office and SharePoint, were for their on-premises versions. The connectors announced Tuesday focus on cloud software, to which Microsoft is shifting its strategy.

With the new tools -- the Jive Connector for Outlook Online, Jive Connector for Office Online, and Jive Connector for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business -- Jive can position its ESN suite as able to assist Microsoft customers who are in increasingly common hybrid scenarios, meaning they're running both on-premises and cloud versions of these products simultaneously.

"We're where the users are," said Clara Liang [cq], Jive's chief product officer. "We let them work where they prefer."

As an example, Liang told of a hypothetical scenario where "John" from the marketing department gets an email on Outlook.com with a question he can't answer, so with the new connector, he transforms the message into a discussion thread in Jive, and also uploads the attachment to the ESN suite. Since Jive is integrated with Salesforce.com, sales rep "Gina" sees the new discussion started by John and, because it concerns one of her clients, she provides the information he needs, at which point John is able to reply to the original email.

Jive already had an integration with Yammer, the cloud ESN software which Microsoft acquired in mid-2012 and which it has been integrating with its Office family of products. However, a connector for Lync Online hasn't been developed yet.

Jive, whose customers include T-Mobile, GE Healthcare, Eli Lilly, Prudential, Genentech, Vodafone and Nike, is one of the few remaining "pure play" ESN vendors. Its rivals include IBM's Connections, Salesforce.com's Chatter and Communities, Microsoft's Yammer and SharePoint, and Tibco's Tibbr.

The 13-year old company went public in late 2011, but its shares, which are trading in the $6.50 range, are way off from their April 2012 peak, when they topped $27. Second-quarter revenue grew 23 percent year-on-year to $43.4 million and its net loss was $14.6 million, about $3.2 million narrower than in the year-ago quarter.

Still, Forrester Research ranked the company as a "leader" among enterprise social software vendors in a recent report, along with IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft, Zimbra and Tibco, saying that despite the "crowded vendor landscape, Jive continues to thrive by emphasizing user experience across all devices."

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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