Social Business in 30 Days? - InformationWeek

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Cloud // Software as a Service
06:15 PM
David F Carr
David F Carr
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Social Business in 30 Days?

With Try Jive, Jive Software is flirting with the freemium model used by competitors like Yammer. But is 30 days long enough to see results?

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
When Jive Software announced a 30-day free trial promotion as part of its revamped cloud service, I expected ridicule from the founders of Yammer, who would inevitably try to paint it as a sham. Instead, the criticism came first from another social software maker, Moxie.

Moxie Software, really? You won't find pricing plainly listed on Moxie's website, let alone a free trial or freemium offer. Instead, even though they sell cloud services, they offer a relatively old school "request a quote" contact form. Still, it was the Moxie people who reached out to me to ask, is 30 days really enough?

Frankly, I'd been wondering that myself. If what you're trying to show is the value of social collaboration across an enterprise, is 30 days long enough to make the connections and prove the value?

The 30-day Try Jive offer was launched last week along with several other platform upgrade announcements from Jive Software. The cloud offering, Jive for Teams, aims to capture departments and project teams within large enterprises and open the door to bigger enterprise sales. This is specifically for the internal social collaboration uses of the Jive platform, as opposed to its software for public social communities, such as technical support communities.

[ Want to know how to do it right? See How To Design A Social Business. ]

Much like Yammer, Jive will now let you sign up for social collaboration in the cloud by supplying nothing more than an email address. Unlike Yammer, which will let you use a basic version of its product indefinitely, for free, Jive offers access to a full-featured version of its platform but for a limited time.

Those customers who decide they want to continue pay a minimum of $12 per user per month, with a 25-user minimum.

Shortly after Jive's announcement, my friends at Moxie volunteered their opinion that Jive was going about this the wrong way.

"What we've learned from our experience is that for companies to seriously evaluate the product, it's virtually impossible to time box it," Nikhil Govindaraj, VP of products for Moxie, said in an interview. While Moxie doesn't advertise any standard free trial offer, most enterprise customers start off with a trial, and generally it's offered for free, he said. A typical pilot runs 60 to 90 days, he said. "In the past, we've offered trial accounts for customers trialing our chat product. Even there, we've found that 30 days is not enough. You end up putting undo pressure on the customer."

Moxie sells several different types of products, including chat, knowledge base, and other customer-facing social software, with its product for internal social collaboration a relatively recent addition. The complexity of the product line makes it difficult to publish a simple pricing schedule because different customers require a different assortment of features, said Tara Sporrer, the VP of marketing and sales operations for Moxie. "The volume of interest around social is very high right now, but our approach has been and education approach because we think that's where the market is," she said.

Moxie's pricing for internal collaboration is competitive at about $8 to $10 per user per month, Sporrer said. However, being too quick to quote a price for social software doesn't make sense "when you haven't even identified what the problem is" that the organization wants to solve, she said.

To be fair, Jive isn't actually saying that an enterprise sales cycle that has taken months in the past has now been boiled down to 30 days. "This is all about seeding the market," CEO Tony Zingale said during an earnings call this week. Jive reported results that beat analyst expectations, although it is still losing money (or "investing in growth," if you prefer).

"Even when you start with a department, you still have to convince the larger organization" to win large deals, Zingale said. Even in that context, he hopes to see the availability of the cloud offering "shave a month" off the sales process because "there will already be pockets within the organization, in a department or a group, that has tried Try Jive."

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