A lot of industry heavyweights are chasing the Enterprise 2.0 market, but a small, fast-growing company called Jive Software thinks it's got the inside track.
Today Jive plans to launch Clearspace 2.0, a significantly overhauled version of its "social productivity platform" designed to introduce social features like blogging, wikis and collaborative project management into the button-down world of enterprise software.
"We're starting from the collaboration side, not the content side," Jive CEO Dave Hersh told InternetNews.com. Still, he understands that any Web 2.0 application for the workplace must have real business value. "Facebook for the enterprise is not the most valuable thing you can get done," he said.
Social enterprise software is becoming an increasingly crowded market, expected to hit $707.7 million by 2011, according to Gartner estimates. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been talking up the collaborative capabilities in its SharePoint product, and IBM (NYSE: IBM) is making similar moves with its Lotus Suite, but the key challenge facing these vendors is to convince businesses that the same social applications that are transforming the way consumers interact with the Web belong in the workplace.
Hersh acknowledges that as IBM continues to develop its social software, it will mount an increasing competitive challenge, but he said that at present, SharePoint is Jive's biggest rival.
Yet Hersh is not touting Clearspace as a SharePoint killer -- far from it. Canvassing the Jive's customers it was moving toward the new version of the software, Hersh said that 70 percent of them were using SharePoint, but they consistently told him that "we just can't do what we want with it."
Instead of trying to beat SharePoint at its own game -- file management -- Clearspace 2.0 integrates with the Microsoft offering, enabling users to pull documents from its servers and update and share them with their colleagues. The idea, Hersh explained, is to create computer systems that mirror the way people work, so documents become collaborative, calendars shared and projects accessible by all employees.
Clearspace 2.0 enables workers to create a personalized homepage, and customize their view with a gallery of widgets.
The software also offers a search function based on the open source Lucene technology, and a rich-media text editor that Hersh describes as "significantly improved" from the first iteration of the product.