Jive Offers Social Customer Service; Battles Lithium for Market

Earlier today  Jive announced they launched a new product: Social Customer Service, extending their community platform for external communities.  The offer includes an OEM integration with Bunchball, and will be available to the public at the end of March.

I distributed this morning a note to my clients and certain interested parties, here is a summary of the main points in it (please contact me if you are interested in becoming part of the distribution list).

In my latest note analyzing Lithium (when they obtained additional funding) I strongly suggested that by taking their focus off their core and most populated market segment they were opening themselves up for a vendor to come in with a similar or better solution and take market share.  A few months later it has happened: Jive has introduced a product that, for all intent and purpose, is similar to Lithium (features and functions).

The collaborative customer service (also known as social customer service) market is barely getting started.  There are other competitors (FuzeDigital, GetSatisfaction, Moxie, RightNow, Sword, and Telligent to name the most popular ones with communities in their solutions) and there are also partnerships being negotiated or already in place (Lithium and Genesys, GetSatisfaction and Salesforce) that fulfill the spectrum of needs right now.

There are plenty of other solutions that deliver value to customers, but the difference in this case comes from four reasons:

Speed to Market. Jive was able to leverage a fast development model to create this solution in little over six months.

Integration and Partnerships. This is going to be critical going forward.  Leveraging the Application Marketplace, Jive can do a quick job of integrating with any vendor in their marketplace.

Platform Delivery Model.  While both companies boast cloud-delivery, prospects and customers tell us that Jive’s platform-based model is closer to what they expect from cloud vendors.

Social Business. Although this is still an arms race to see who can serve the other side of the fence better, there is an advantage in release schedules and experience that goes to Jive.  The battle is not yet decided, and there are no clear winners yet.

Both have very interesting points in their columns: Lithium has presence as market leader, experience, and large accounts to back their claims whereas Jive has a more modern approach, better momentum, and a flexible platform (this is going to be the key going forward).  The market, as we said before, is too early to determine who the winners are but the timing is totally right.

During the first six-to-nine-months of 2012 most Customer Service organizations are focused in understanding communities, seeing where they place in their strategies, and how they can use them better for collaborative and social customer service.  Although most of these organizations are not yet engaged in acquiring the technology, the latter part of this year and into next year will be crucial for vendors to be in this market (if they want to become key players).

If you are a Lithium customer and are very satisfied with your solution, there is nothing you have to do.

If you are a Jive customer and are considering, or have already deployed, external communities you should have a conversation with your sales representative to understand better what the offer entails, when it can be available to cater to your needs, and what are favorable conditions you can obtain to bring them into your organization – I am certain that through the first few months you can obtain some very interesting terms.

If you are a customer service organization and are in the market looking for a solution for collaborative or social customer service, definitely invite the people from Jive in for a cup-of-coffee and a chat.  Although their solution may seem new and not established, they already have proof of how the product works from their prior work done in the market and the flexibility of the platform will make up for some of their initial shortcomings.

Disclaimers: Jive is an active client; I am working with them on this launch.  Lithium, GetSatisfaction, and FuzeDigital are inactive clients.  Telligent was never a client.

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