Jive put out an event
last week two weeks almost three weeks ago (sorry, been out of it – but trying to catch up) to announce the launch of their Application Marketplace (actually, they were announcing the launch of Jive 5, including the marketplace – but the marketplace was the raison d’etre). They gave us drinks, good food, and a couple of presentations — it was your standard marketing event: well done, with participation from analysts and press as well as partners, Jive executives, and more. The event was not the star of the show, however, as much as the potential for the marketplace in my opinion. I am not sure if Jive intended it to be that way, I am certain they were looking for more immediate validation of what they have built than for me to say “great potential, need to do something with it“. However, in spite of the interesting partnerships and the work they have done, I think this is where I see the return on their investment more than anything.
Let me tell you what I see…
I am a huge fan of the cloud. No, not the cloud in a box, jar, or can – nor the private, public, or hybrid models; don’t even mention virtual clouds either. I am a long-time student, researcher, and endorser of cloud computing: a three-layer model that leverages the layers below to make an application more dynamic. In a true cloud model you would have infrastructure providers (such as the Amazon EC2), platform providers (working on that in today’s worlds – more on this later), and tons of service providers (what we call Software as a Service today) that can either be combined to achieve more functionality or replaced as necessary when performance, latency, or features are not there. Another nifty feature of cloud computing is that since you can leverage what the underlying layers provide – your services can be very, very small and efficient. The easiest way to picture this is to see how an iPhone works. Although not precisely cloud-centric yet, it is the closest we have. You can have use many, many mini-applications (I called them atomized since that sounds way cooler) that provide just one or very few specific functions. They do the job well, and they are cheap, simple to create, and simple to use. See Figure 1 below for more on what I envision.
The movement that a lot of vendors are starting to get behind, the consumerization of IT, has atomized applications as the expected outcome: instead of licensing a mega-suite of 1,000s of different functions (and then use 20% or less of them), an organization can build or rent or leverage different platforms on top of their infrastructure and create atomized applications for specific functions. We are already seeing some of these happening (I wrote about Assistly not that long ago, and if you have a small business you know of Freshbooks – or Mint as a consumer, or even Dropbox or Box.Net for file management, and many more), but they are still third party vendors that provide licensed applications – not services (although Assistly is coming close – read my post for more on that).
The movement for Consumerization of IT involves a true cloud computing model: many service providers that leverage many platforms to provide mash-ups of applications as needed, to deliver value on demand. Sounds almost dreamy, and to be fair – it requires more than we have today. If we are going to assume that the infrastructure layer is already there (which is about 30-40% true), we still need the several platforms to be deployed. Even if we get those deployed (at least 1-2 years for open platforms, 5-7 years for a viable ecosystem), we will still need the service providers. Even then, will it work?
This is why I got excited about the Jive event; Jive’s platform is one step in that direction. Although not a true cloud computing initiative, the way it works today allows us a peek into the potential of these solutions. Let me use an example (see Figure 1 also for a visual rendering):
From the many partners that were there (some of them well established like CrowdFactory and Appirio) the one that called my attention was Rypple.
They offer a gamification engine for the enterprise. Organizations using Rypple can create “badges” and “kudos” to reward employees, which are then assigned by colleagues and peers as needed via a central application. Rypple also lets customers access the system (with rules and controls, of course) and — they leverage Jive to build those rules and controls. Further, they use Jive to access other services connected to the platform, to get to any data that the platform had already accessed or could potentially access. Finally, they use all these functions and modules to build mash-ups within the Jive platform. If Assistly (yes – I am biased towards them) were to be a Jive partner, you could use those badges and kudos and modules to build a better performance management module for customers to reward good service (and for businesses to track good behavior from employees). See Figure 1 for more on this.
The key here is not that you could do this, which you could’ve done in any number of ways by customizing existing suites, but that you can do it simply and quickly – and deploy it via a litany of mobile and non-mobile interfaces rapidly. In other words, in a very few steps your organization can leverage functionality from many of the different Jive partners to build and deploy atomized applications — imagine the potential!
OK, getting ahead of myself – Jive needs more partners, and the solutions I saw were interesting but nothing groundbreaking yet. However, I can see the potential and I can see how cloud computing is taking one step forward — and, call me a geek, I get giddy with anticipation as to what it can do.
What do you think? Am I making too much of nothing? Am I seeing things here? Would love your opinion.
UPDATE: check out Dion Hinchcliffe’s great take on this as well.disclaimer: many vendors mentioned here, but only Jive is a client – the rest, just those that I like. these are my opinions, and as such deserve the proper weight in making your decision. that means I am not responsible for whatever you do, other than cause you to think and use this as one part of your decision making process. even then, still not responsible for you doing what I claim can be done – unless it comes out awesome, then full credit goes to me.