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Enterprise Social CRM a la Tibco

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned them before, but TIBCO (Tibco hereafter, because I hate capitalizing entire company names) is one of those wicked-smart companies that is moving social CRM forward in a usable, well thought out way for the enterprise. Tibco, and its tibbr product in particular, needs more exposure, because it has got a really solid grip on what businesses need to make social computing part of the work day.

Today marked the launch of tibbr 3.0, which Tibco is calling “the 21st century universal inbox for social computing in the enterprise.” Tibbr 3.0 will be generally available in August 2011; you can read the launch press release here, but I’m inclined to give my own thoughts about what’s on offer.

Videoconferencing. One of the components is tibcast, a video conference app with desktop video and voice. You might think this is no big deal, since there are several companies who have conference modules, and at least one or two who only do video conferencing. the difference is that tibcast is built right into your desktop work environment, and is completely ad-hoc. Nothing needs to be set up or agreed upon in advance; you can decide to have a conference on the fly with anybody you can reach, and just start the thing up. Anybody on the team who wasn’t available has full access to the recorded meeting, as well as any files that were shared.

Related to this is Tibbr Voice. When you dial into 1-800-TIBBR, the system recognizes your phone number (and thus your permissions) and allows you to post voice memos directly to your wall, or somebody else’s.

Document Management. Ram Menon, Tibco’s EVP of marketing, has been mentioning lately that next year, businesses will generate an estimated 1,500 exabytes (1 EB = 1 billion GB) of files—some 33 trillion documents—in addition to all the other data they will produce. Each year, what Menon calls “Where’s the File Syndrome” grows worse, and is exacerbated by cases where static copies must be distributed.

Tibbr 3.0 integrates with any folder file system (the example given is Microsoft SharePoint), granting discovery and write-back capabilities while preserving all corporate permissions and security. You can’t accidentally share a forbidden document by dragging it to the wrong area of your desktop, but you can make it available to the right people as if they had their own copy while still preserving a single version of the truth.

Easing Social Sprawl. Anybody who deals with more than a few social networking tools knows what social sprawl is—our attentions are split between so many communities and different kinds of interaction that managing the feeds becomes its own full time job. Tibbr Communities provides a single work space for them all, with multiple walls and varying access rights—again, you can’t accidentally put sensitive data on the wrong wall. All the pieces of your social media pile are consolidated into one installation. Tibco is calling this an industry first.

Actionability in the Social Context. Seeing the activity of coworkers, partners, and customers, and being able to communicate about it quickly and easily, is a huge plus. But business operations need more than a news feed and some chat. Tibco draws on its SOA expertise to let users act on what they see in the feed without going to another applications. Tibbr 3.0 lets you do things like approve purchase orders, OK budget requests, or order more inventory without ever leaving your wall—the place where you found out about the needed actions.

Further drawing on SOA, Tibbr 3.0 introduces tibSmartwidgets (I don’t choose the names, I just report on ’em), a way to embed tibbr 3.0 into any existing enterprise apps through context-sensitive widgets.

What it all means to me. From what I can see, tibbr 3.0 is bloody beautiful in concept and execution. I might never again work in a large corporation where all of these new and awesome technologies will be used, but I can imagine using something like tibbr if I did, and feeling like it was how things should always have been. Feeling faceless, powerless, out of the loop, disconnected—these are major concerns for modern workers, and the younger generations coming into the work force won’t stand for it.

A number of good point solutions and adaptations of consumer-level social technology already exist, and there is a growing movement to integrate them into a single social business environment. Tibco is doing a fantastic job of it with tibbr. This is full-bore SCRM here.

Tibco is a name well known to industry insiders, but it seems the company doesn’t get much attention beyond those circles. I think this is a mistake. Tibco is doing game-changing work, and I urge you to take a closer look. Even if you’re happy with what you’ve got, or are a competitor, make Tibco part of the conversation. A rising tide floats all boats.