Salesforce Chatter vs Jive Software

Originally published Sep 19, 2012 on Google+ (remember when that was the hot new thing?). This post got the attention of Jive’s CEO at the time, Tony Zingale, who re-posted it internally at Jive and said it was required reading.

I’m at Dreamforce 2012, drinking the kool-aid, trying to learn all about Salesforce Chatter. While I have learned a lot, I find I have more questions now than when I arrived. Some things are clear, however.

Chatter clearly has Jive Software in its cross-hairs. Jive is by far the superior product now, in my judgment. I have been running a Jive internal community for more than four years now and am very happy with both the company and the technology.

But superior products don’t always win out. Remember Betamax? And Salesforce is not sitting still. Their rate of innovation for Chatter is incredible. IMO the innovations are rather a chaotic mess so far, but they are throwing so much energy at developing the product that I expect they will eventually have something pretty darn good, unless they never pull all the threads together.

So I see Jive, fresh off their IPO and not yet profitable, racing to keep innovating to maintain their lead as a superior product at the same time as they have pressure to deliver revenue for their investors. And I compare this to Salesforce, a hugely profitable company for whom Chatter is almost a loss-leader that they are willing in part at least to give away, while they also pour resources into innovating and building it into a true community platform.

If I were making the purchase decision today, I wonder which one I would choose. Would I go with the superior product — Jive — or gamble on the muscle and might of Salesforce making Chatter into an equally capable option? With the added pressure, of course, that Chatter promises integration with Salesforce systems that no competitor can match.

It looks to me as though two or three years from now, the case for Chatter is going to be much stronger than it is now. It is up to Jive to truly lead, to innovate more cleverly and sensibly, and to make its offering much more compelling even as Salesforce is racing ahead with innovation for Chatter, too. If Jive can’t rise to the challenge, another Betamax could end up biting the dust.

If economists are right, the winners in this race will be we consumers, as both companies are forced to match each other’s best ideas while keeping prices competitive. We should have great options to choose from. I just hope we get to keep having a choice. If Jive falls by the wayside, I think we will all lose out. Competition is best for those of us actually using these tools.

So, Jive, step it up, okay? Get that slingshot fired up.

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