It is widely held that the greatness of a general is defined by his adversary. In this perspective, SharePoint also should be defined by its competitors, be it smaller ones or bigger ones. In this post I am going to introduce two rival products-Box and Jive, and try to explore their effect on SharePoint. I hope our findings may help us prepare for the future.
Box, Simple Online Collaboration
First let us take a look at the Box, or more specifically Box.com. According to its website, Box provides businesses with simple & intuitive content management, secure online file sharing and full featured collaboration. Do those benefits sound familiar to you, my dear SharePoint users And here comes the bomb-it promises simple, secure sharing. Secure sharing may be not a threat to SharePoint, but simple is targeting a Sharepoint’s Achille’s heel.
Digging deeper, we can see that Box allows us to upload all kinds of files, to organize and tag them. We can also share files with their URLs, and of course users can set permissions on them. Like many popular cloud software, Box provides a whole spectrum of apps by which users can access Box with different mobile devices. Box supports IPhone, IPad, Android, TouchPad, Blackberry, you name it.
Unlike the legion of SharePoint vendors around the world, Box develops its ecosystem by aligning itself with companies that champion cloud computing, and this mutually benefits both parties. Google, Salesforce, Netsuite are Box’s alliances, working perfectly with each others. Moreover, Box provides APIs for outsiders. Given its current momentum, it is safe to say that there will be a rich ecosystem around Box in the near future.
Box is a cloud technology company, and it is optimizing collaboration and content management with cloud technologies. Even though cloud computing has been the buzz in the past years, it is still evolving. Box is arguably the leader in combining cloud computing with collaboration and document management.
Microsoft started to offer SharePoint on-premise and in the cloud years ago. Yet it is still unclear if they could pull this off. Skydrive has been released long time ago, yet it has been overtaken by the new comer Dropbox in a short time. Predicting the future of SharePoint in cloud based on this case is far-fetching but the idea is there.
Jive, a leading Social Business Platform
Jive is an industry-leading social platform for business and is scaling very quickly. It brings together social networking, collaboration, social web, as well as community for organizations to engage customers and employees.
Jive’s featured product, Jive Engage, covers most of popular social web sites such as Facebook, Twitter. Users can listen to social web sites by monitoring, analyzing and responding to social activities with Jive Engage.
Jive also provides software named What Matters, which is a social filter tool weeding out noise so that users can focus on valuable information. Confronted with big amounts of data created by social activity, the first thing we need to do is clear out useless data. What Matters is a tool designed for this job.
In addition to the two software mentioned above, there are a lot of apps that work well with Jive. Featured apps include Box, Lingotech, Salesforce, Roundpegg, and others. All of them are dealing more or less with socialization and considering the complexity of that matter, these apps are working well with each other.
It is obvious that Jive is competing with SharePoint using its social prowess. Newly-emerging technologies always create new leaders, which may destroy the big players in the field. Socialization is no doubt a new technology that has the potential to create more industry leaders and destroy more current players should they not be able to change their business accordingly.
Jive is riding this new tech trend to change collaboration, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and what not. With more and more people using social web, collaborating through social web and integrating social web with CRM is increasingly important for organizations. At this point, Jive is in a better position than SharePoint.
SharePoint is poised to be more socializing in the future according to Microsoft. But socialization is leaping forward with unprecedented speed and scale, and more and more organizations are preparing themselves for this trend. It is crystal clear that SharePoint users are expecting something big in this regard. Yet socialization is a budding and unknown concept for us all, and no none can assess for sure where socialization is heading to. Microsoft is a traditional software company and fairly green on socialization. SharePoint is a mature and sophisticated enterprise platform with big market share. It is wishy-washy to expect SharePoint will become social in the short run, given socialization is a wide concept and may significantly differ in different industries.
The Future in This Regard
There is an interesting prediction : SharePoint will be positioned as a “middleware”, and lightweight competitors like Box, Jive and others are the frontend. With more and more small SharePoint competitors emerging with new technologies and joining together to battle SharePoint.
It is a smart move for SharePoint to reposition itself as a back-end middleware, and for companies like Box and Jive to integrate with SharePoint and act as front-end applications. After all, SharePoint is the dominant player in enterprise content management and business process management.