On Wednesday, November 11th, Tim Albright, Senior Director of Community Strategy for Jive Software, and Argyle Managing Member Jason Redlus discussed external and internal support and the use of technology for better company communication.
Jason Redlus: How would you describe your product category and what does it represent in terms of helping a business in a broader sense?
Tim Albright: I’ll answer that and give you a little background around Jive at the same time. We do collaboration both on the external side and the support communities that most of us are familiar with, and we do collaboration on the internal side, whether that’s truly a social-type intranet where we replace the intranet and become your org chart and your way of communicating internally with corporate com and so on. And we also combine those two things. So a lot of our customers have both the internal and the external, and we bridge between those to allow people to work internally as well as push content to the external if they want to.
Now, within that, of course, there are a whole bunch of different use cases. There’s sales enablement on the inside, corporate coms and all those sorts of things, and trying to get to real categorical problems like how do I make an RFI response process shorter? Those are the kinds of categories we look at, and we have a set of tools and a set of strategists to help those be successful. But the categories are about how do we address 40 or 50 identified use cases within the business, and how do we attack those and make measureable business improvement. That to me is really our category, and it’s the same on the external. We really want to prove case deflection or we really want to show that we can improve NPS. So it’s about how do we help your support be better and make your customers more satisfied.
And on the inside, it’s how do we make your employees work better with the tools they’re used to. It’s strange that I can go home and find your third-grade teacher but I can’t find someone with expertise in my own company about something that I’m interested in. There’s no way for me to find them, and that to me is really a key category. We defined the term social business, so I guess that’s technically where we are. But really we’re in the business category, and we’re trying to help people do things like creating an RFI or RFP in a better, more collaborative and faster way.
Are there any successful case studies you would like to share with us?
One involves a very large cement company that uses us internally, and which has lots of factories with guys who were not necessarily knowledge workers. They obviously had e-mail for everybody at the home office but not for the thousands of employees spread out in remote sites. So they needed a way to communicate to these more spread out groups across every time zone and across different geographies and languages. That’s a case where obviously they’re kind of forward looking. They realized they were at an inflection point because they couldn’t communicate to these guys and were willing to try something new. They’ve been very successful.
We have a huge number of external customer support communities powered by Jive, and they’re saving real money on case deflection and building their brands. One really interesting case that comes to mind is Analog Devices. They have a site called EngineerZone where engineers collaborate on designs and problem solving. One look will tell that it is a community truly used by the engineering audience, and it drives real stickiness with the Analog Devices brand.
“The culture in social media is different than the culture inside the enterprise by and large, but that’s changing.”
We hear a lot about using tools to drive customer and employee loyalty. I think that can also be a driver of the culture you have with your customers as well around transparency, velocity of getting information back, and so forth. How do you think about loyalty in that regard and does your tool help?
I think it is tied to culture. There is a phrase that culture eats strategy for lunch. It does enable culture, and this is one of those places where we’ve taken the kinds of tools that you’ve become familiar with in social media and applied them in an enterprise way. The culture in social media is different than the culture inside the enterprise by and large, but that’s changing, and I think when we look at loyalty, there are some key tools. Gamification is one of them; it’s surprisingly effective both internally with employees as well as externally. And in that case, gamification leads to loyalty in at least two real ways. One is obviously the reputation part, but it can also lead to access. You can get different levels and different access and so on, so there’s an explicit loyalty in that. In most human circumstances, that means you’re more loyal, and we do have some very strong correlations. For instance, EMC has said that customers who use their support communities online buy 240 percent more stuff from them than a “like” person who doesn’t use the communities. Big difference.
“You have to be transparent and engage people when they say this product isn’t working right. It gives you a way to expose that willingness to others and make them loyal in a way that you couldn’t have in sort of a one-to-one situation.”
So there are some explicit things like that, and I also think there are two other kinds of loyalty that apply both internally and externally. One is that I expect certain things from you; I expect some level of transparency, which does kind of bleed over from social media. You have to be transparent and engage people when they say this product isn’t working right. It gives you a way to expose that willingness to others and make them loyal in a way that you couldn’t have in sort of a one-to-one situation.
But the other way that the loyalty comes in is that I have certain expectations around what I should be able to get done, and businesses need to give me the tools I expect. One of the things that we know about the youngest employees is they’re more than willing to leave. They’re more willing to go get a different provider or even a different job; they have a different kind of loyalty. So having these types of tools and an open atmosphere will create loyalty and get them to stay with you as a customer or an employee.
As we look to the next year or so, where do you think Jive is going technologically?
Again, mobile will be a heavy focus for us because our customers are asking for it. But the other big place that I think is shifting is from just having the social tools and being isolated to really spreading them across your enterprise experience. I’ll give you a couple of examples. We’re trying to make it easier if you work with four different marketing agencies. You don’t want to invite them all into your social intranet, but what you may want to do is interact with them in smart ways. We give you simple ways to bring them into a walled garden of collaboration. You bring them in, you do your work and then they’re gone. You move them in and out, and the other agencies don’t know that you’re doing that with them. It’s those kinds of things where we’re trying to flatten some of those relationships while allowing you to stay in a good collaborative space and work with them; we’re the hub that allows you to do that and reach out to them in ways that don’t require them to do something special.
For example, we’ll integrate with all kinds of content management systems. We’ll allow you to use Box or Google or the cloud or any of these things which we see companies going to, and our point is we understand why you’re using those things: to be collaborative and share. And we want to also be there, which is why the cloud is a big push for us. We want to drive our customers there for a lot of the same reasons that other software companies want to. It’s better for the updates, it keeps them current, it’s better for innovation, it’s a lot easier for everybody to manage, etc.
Tim Albright is a ten-year veteran of Cisco, where he was the business owner for Cisco’s largest online community, the Cisco Support Community (CSC). After migrating the community to Jive, community traffic more than quadrupled, drawing well north of 2.5M unique visitors each month. Tens of thousands of questions were answered in the forums, deflecting cases from Cisco’s call center support organization, the Technical Assistance Center (TAC).
In addition to the support community, Tim also led or partnered with numerous internal, external, and “gated” communities, driving significant ROI in case avoidance, customer satisfaction, product feedback, and numerous employee efficiencies. He has deep experience in all areas of support, knowledge management, web 2.0 and social media, and social business use case definition. He has driven collaboration at all levels of business.
Since joining Jive in November 2010, Tim has brought his practitioner’s perspective to more than 300 customers and prospects to help them define social business solutions and measure real business impact.
Tim is also a trained anthropologist and ethnographer who studied pre-Columbian art, architecture, language, and writing systems. His field work focused on the living ancestors of Maya and Mixtec Indians in Mexico and Central America. He lives in New York City with his wife, where they enjoy art, architecture, history, theater, culture, and food & wine.