TIBCO, the enterprise infrastructure software company, this week announced their foray into Social Computing when they announced the GA of Tibbr, their attempt to crack the enterprise social collaboration market. Tibbr is a social computing tool for enterprises which will let employees, customers and partners to interact with each other and, also, with information and events generated by their enterprise IT systems. As Dennis Howlett points out,
It intelligently marries people, process and context, delivering information the way people want to consume
The key to any social collaboration efforts inside an enterprise is to go well beyond people. In the consumer social networking, it is all about social graph which represents how people are connected to each other. The emphasis there is on people because, as we all know, it is just about people. It is an entirely different game when it comes to business organizations. If I am a CEO of an organization, I am not worried about whether my VP of Sales had a haircut or not but I would like to know what he thinks about the numbers Sales Teams are pulling in and what are the adjustments they made based on these numbers. Well, my example may not be accurate representation of what is happening inside an organization but it is good enough to describe what I expect from a tool like this for the enterprises.
TIBCO is not churning out something new here. Companies like SocialText, SocialCast, Yammer, Salesforce, etc. are doing it for some years now. Some of them are a clone of consumer social tools connecting only the people inside an organization. Some add context to the conversations but still not doesn’t do much to integrate the processes. Salesforce.com did a good job with Chatter when they integrated the processes to some extent but their tool was more focussed on the processes around Sales and Customers. What was clearly in need was an enterprise wide integration of people, processes and context. Tibbr is trying to achieve just that. The way they have integrated Tibbr with legacy applications and SaaS applications clearly highlights the scope of this tool.
Pundits in the Enterprise 2.0 world will spends hours discussing what constitutes Enterprise 2.0 but I am going to take a look at Tibbr more from a technical point of view. When I had a chance to take a glance at Tibbr, my first reaction was “This is it. They have nailed it for the enterprises”. Even though it can be construed as an instantaneous reaction than a proper analysis, I do think that they have got the big portion of it right. Even though I cannot say if it will be a game winner, I can say for sure that this is good enough to apply the market pressure on competitors to innovate further. Instead of seeing it using a win-lose lens, I am seeing it as a good trigger for further innovation in this space.
Pundits have already written extensively about the features of Tibbr. Instead, I just want to highlight those aspects of Tibbr that caught my attention:
- First, and foremost, their pricing structure is brilliant. Whenever a company with deep roots in the traditional computing era jumps into new age technologies, they get the pricing wrong. Especially, when a traditional player comes up with a cloud based offering, their on-premise pricing is usually self defeating. TIBCO has brought in parity in pricing between the hosted version and on-premise version. I think this is a smart strategy, especially while competing with hosted only players in the space.
- Second, still equally important, is the level of control they offer to both IT admins and users. They offer this control on both the hosted version and on-premise version. This is a game changer because IT loves to have the control and, more importantly, data privacy and security offered by such fine grained control are crucial to any organization. I think this will turn out to be the feature which most enterprises will love on Tibbr.
- Thirdly, the resources needed to host their on-premise version are very minimum. According to TIBCO, one of their customers is running an on-premise version for several thousand employees and they are running it on a single commodity linux server. Add to it a fee structure for on-premise version, the economics is fairly comparable to that of hosted offering. Clearly, organizations who want to keep their data inside the firewall can do it without investing too much money.
I would argue that these three aspects along with the other features and security, makes Tibbr an attractive option for many enterprises. However, in my opinion, there is one roadblock to large scale adoption of Tibbr. Most of the tools in the Enterprise 2.0 space has always seen the success through bottoms-up employee adoption. The freemium pricing for these tools makes it easy for such viral adoptions. With Tibbr, it is going to be a top down push through the throats of the employees. Definitely, there will be widespread resistance to this approach. It will be interesting to see how Tibbr gains traction. When I asked Ram Menon of TIBCO, he pointed out to 40000 paid users soon after their soft launch. But I wouldn’t put much emphasis on that number though. It will be interesting to see how well enterprises warm up to a tool like Tibbr in the coming years. It will also be interesting to see how the competitors adjust their strategy after this announcement.
- TIBCO launches tibbr, an enterprise social desktop solution for point solution hell (customerthink.com)
- TIBCO’s tibbr May Be the Enterprise 2.0 Solution You’ve Been Waiting For (readwriteweb.com)
- Tibco’s tibbr and the social employee… (zdnet.com)
- Tibco’s tibbr and the employee dashboard… (zdnet.com)
- Understanding the TIBCO tibbr difference for Enterprise 2.0 (zdnet.com)
- Tibco aims at Salesforce, Socialtext with launch of Tibbr platform (infoworld.com)
- Tibco Aims at Salesforce, Socialtext With Tibbr Platform (pcworld.com)
- Finally a great E20 tool – and people play the social card! (cloudave.com)