Social media and businesses have not always had an easy relationship. Connectivity and employee morale are great, but do you really want to encourage people to funnel their time and energy into a virtual water cooler like Facebook? And then there are those of us who don’t even want to eat lunch with our co-workers because we see enough of them already, much less connect with them online (note: this does not refer to my awesome Vator co-workers [who might be reading this...]).
In an ambitious endeavor to present a more productive social media experience for large enterprises, Tibco is launching Tibbr, a social network that shifts the focus away from Farmville and vacation photos to emphasize workplace subjects—literally. Tibbr aims to differentiate itself from all the other enterprise social networks like Yammer and Salesforce’s Chatter by allowing users to follow subjects rather than people.
In a large enterprise, not all employees know one another, so it makes sense to enable them to connect through specific workplace topics rather than through personal connection. For example, let’s say you’re wondering about a shipment status, but you don’t actually know Joe in Clearing and Forwarding. By checking the relevant topic, you can find out whether or not the shipment status is on time, late, etc.
“Following people is not enough. We’re bringing context into the equation,” said Tibco’s executive vice president, Ram Menon, in an interview with VatorNews. “Through Tibbr, you can find out if that purchase order has been approved or that invoice that’s been sitting in accounting has been mailed. Perhaps accounting systems got one of your purchase orders approved. Tibbr has the ability to not only have people, but also systems post on your wall.”
With more than a decade of experience in designing enterprise systems and software, Tibco may have just stepped up the enterprise social media game to something that resembles more of a Facebook for the workplace than a workplace adapted to Facebook.
“If we can get systems to talk to systems in a relevant contextual manner, it will be a very small move to get systems to talk to people,” said Menon. “We’ve created a product that marries the best elements of social media (virality) and the best elements of enterprise software.”
Tibbr, which launched Monday morning in conjunction with a live event in San Francisco, has been quietly tested for the last several weeks and has already drawn some 40,000 users. Among the several large enterprises currently using it are MGM Resort, OOCL, and CIBER, which has employees connecting on Tibbr in 19 different countries.
Unlike Yammer, however, the network cannot be accessed by any employee at any time. Rather, it will have to be deployed by management either in-house or via cloud computing.
But where does confidentiality come into play? Not every business wants to give all of their employees unlimited access to every detail about the company. This, Menon said, is already taken care of on Tibbr, where management can carry on private conversations and can limit access to specific individuals, like people in marketing and PR. Furthermore, controls can be set for different people in different departments, including exactly how much access they have to specific information about the company.
“Every enterprise wants to have tight control over the most private of conversations,” said Menon, who noted that many companies have even taken to banning Facebook in the workplace. Tibbr, he said, will offer a productive alternative.
It looks like it may lead the race to dominate enterprise social media.
Image source: Tibbr.com