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Jive Adds Web 2.0 Rhythms to New Enterprise Collaboration Software

A little over a year following the initial release of its Clearspace collaboration platform in February 2007, Jive Software announced the availability of the Clearspace 2.0 Monday.

The newest iteration of Clearspace enables users to share information and connect with coworkers and business partners in order to increase communication and workplace productivity.

“There is recognition that yesterday’s collaboration tools do not meet all of the needs of today’s workers. The question of what to do about this problem requires enterprises to explore how tools such as Clearspace can address those needs alongside the existing tools,” said Mark Levitt, vice president for collaborative computing and the enterprise workplace at IDC.

Jive Talking

In building Clearspace 2.0, the company’s goal was to take the software from a “lightweight way to collaborate and organize content” to a more substantial offering, said Dave Hersh, CEO of Jive.

To do so, Jive had to tackle several issues surrounding usage and compatibility. What the company came up with is a triple-pronged approach based on connecting people rather than sharing files. Jive breaks Clearspace 2.0 up into three components: People, Focus and Work.

“They’ve definitely taken a new track with the 2.0 release. They want, in terms of collaboration software, to be as Apple is to the PC and Windows. The most important piece of that is it shows who they are targeting — the Mac constituency and those who like clean [user interfaces] and very usable applications versus the Microsoft play that has the adjective ‘clunky’ associated with it all too often,” Jonathan Edwards, a Yankee Group analyst, told TechNewsWorld.

“An important aspect of this release is the way they are grouping the features of the product — People, Focus and Work. The ‘Focus’ [aspect] is very much a project management addition which is probably, in terms of functionality, the most aggressive [move] they made with this release. A lot of the other stuff was available in the previous version and received minor upgrades,” Edwards explained.

Version 2.0 offers expanded profiles and organizational relationships, which enables users to locate people based on the right information, according to Jive. As a result, employees know exactly where a coworker fits into the corporate hierarchy, either using the full organizational chart or by highlighting a name to view a mini-profile.

“They did do something very important in focusing on contextualizing content versus associating content with a certain tool. Instead, they associate content with a person or group. That’s what they mean by leveraging social networks and bringing the ranking, presence and profile functionality to Clearspace 2.0,” Edwards pointed out.

Focus on Work

Enterprises understand the need for investing in tools that lower costs and improve worker productivity by integrating information repositories and applications with fewer users interfaces, Levitt told TechNewsWorld.

Companies running Clearspace, according to Jive’s Hersh, were also “hungry for the ability to manage projects and coordinate resources at a high level,” with features such as Milestones and Tasks. While Jive hopes users will choose its software over competitor Microsoft’s Sharepoint 2007, Clearspace 2.0 can serve as a complement to the software, integrating with Sharepoint for searches, browsing and linking to content from within Clearspace.

The software’s customizable homepage is “completely widgitized,” said Jive, to avoid overwhelming users with loads of content. Rather, now they can create a filter to see what matters most to them, whether it’s a colleague’s current projects, their own projects or department or coworker blog posts.

“Clearspace 2.0 adds the ability for personalization with RSS (really simple syndication) feeds and widgets as well as integration with Microsoft Sharepoint teamsite people and content,” noted Levitt.

Clearspace organizes information in one central location so users no longer have to search for data in a multitude of locations. Jive has also beefed up the software’s search capabilities in order to provide users with “complete answers.” A Clearspace search will return relevant people, projects, conversations, comments, files, answers, other open questions, blog posts and look beyond the company firewall to outside sources and online communities.

The intuitive user interface and unified platform were designed to provide users with a consistent experience across all content, the company said. Whether they opt for a rich or plain text editor, users can attach several types of files — including Microsoft Office, video and image files — to any discussion, document or blog. With administrator permission, users can also allow team members outside a company’s firewall to access content stored in a new cloud-based document sharing service.

Jive also announced the acquisition of Jotlet, a calendar technology company, Monday. With the purchase, the company plans to incorporate Jotlet software into future releases of Clearspace.

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