‘We thought before we ran’: Why Tibco reckons it’s got the edge on Chatter, Yammer et al

Integration and middleware maven Tibco has joined the fast-growing ranks of companies making a move in the enterprise collaboration and social networking space. Following the likes of salesforce.com’s Chatter, Yammer, SocialText and SocialCast, it has just released tibbr, a "next-generation productivity and collaboration tool for the enterprise," as the firm calls it.

While tibbr certainly shares many of the characteristics of similar products on the market, such as news updates, microblogging, status feeds and the ability to follow groups and people, there is one key element that Tibco reckons separates it from the competition.

The application is split into two distinct groups – the work stream and the life stream. The life stream pulls in information from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites, while the work stream connects with business applications from the likes of Oracle, SAP, salesforce.com, Microsoft or any other enterprise application.

This lets users keep up to date with any number of business processes, from the latest marking project to expenses claims.
Integrating systems and applications to the people using them is Tibco’s stronghold so the company thinks it makes sense to include collaboration platforms in that process. The idea behind tibbr is to bring the information to the user rather than making the user hunt for it, Ram Menon, Tibco EVP of worldwide marketing, said.

"People say to us, ‘You’re a middleware company! Why are you doing this? It’s not your area’. But it is. There are now more social media users than email and we’re a sharing society now," he said. "Sharing in the enterprise is very different. It’s overwhelming. Some call it the data deluge. Tibbr gives you the ability to have that information brought to you."

This is where the Subject aspect of tibbr comes in. Subjects are a group focused on a particular project, activity or theme, which users can follow. "It’s a delivery of fine-grained information that is relevant to you at a particular time," Menon said.

The beta of tibbr was launched way back in December 2009 but not given a full release until last week. That’s a very long time in the technology world. In that time period, salesforce.com has launched Chatter and subsequently released a number of major updates to it, such as making it free and opening it up to non-salesforce.com customers.

So does Menon think Tibco has missed to boat by waiting for so long? "We took our time to get it right," he said. Product strategy is not press release-driven. You have to think before you run, which is what we did. Now we’re running, because we thought more and listened to our customers."

"Many others in the market are selling to the enterprise; that’s the only thing we have in common with them. Immediately after that we diverge. Just replicating consumer tech in the enterprise just doesn’t work," Menon concluded.

Tibbr is available at $12 per month per user, with discounts for bigger orders. It is also available on- or off-premise so companies worried about the security of their data in the cloud can choose to host the platform in-house.

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