People may be at the centre of the consumer social networking and enterprise social software phenomenon, but the current competitive environment is really about the behavioral data you bring with you.
There have been two big announcements in the "sCircle" (i.e. the "social software circle" - sorry, I couldn't help myself!) in the last couple of weeks. First, salesforce.com acquired socialytics leader Radian6 on March 30, 2011 and today Jive Software has announced its purchase of young start-up Proximal Labs.
Why the synergies in purchasing companies with sophisticated analytics and processing engines? Because software vendors want to collect, combine, integrate, slice and dice the social data you generate to create a more personalized experience for you.
This is regardless of whether you are a Social Media Manager at JCREW, factory worker at Toyota, or Product Manager at Autodesk - the next big thing is for companies to understand all aspects of what you and everyone else is saying, discussing, "liking", recommending, sharing, and creating at home or at work to make collaborating, marketing, selling, developing and transacting easier.
Why do these acquisitions in recent weeks matter? It is the way vendors are going to compete in this space. Bringing the most relevant information to users who are already inundated with information has long been a desire, but being able to do it (and do it well) is another story.
There is obviously a ton of social data being generated, but collecting, analyzing, and turning it into something meaningful is a whole other level. There is a lot of activity in the enterprise social software space as it pertains to analytics. This is an area that a lot of vendors are going to have to consider entering if they are not already there.
My colleagues Mary Wardley and Mike Fauscette wrote about the salesforce.com and Radian6 acquisition so I will not repeat the great analysis that they have already done. You can find Mary's post here and Mike's post here.
In terms of Jive's acquisition of Proximal Labs, I think it is a really good direction for Jive to go in and it makes a lot of sense in terms of where the industry - and competition - is heading. Jive has been an early innovator in social business and is well recognized.
The problem that Jive is trying solve (or really unite) from an external versus internal nature of social software offerings with the Proximal acquisition fits in with where IDC sees the social business landscape unfolding.
The basis of social business transformation starts with people as the platform; not only are you and I important, but the data that we generate is even more valuable now because of how it can be analyzed and applied in conjunction with our networks.
By bringing the apparent analytics and scientific sophistication behind Proximal's product offering to Jive, Jive now has the opportunity to feed many of its other products with this kind of information and data beyond Jive What Matters and into their Social Media Monitoring application and/or Jive Apps Marketplace among others.
Essentially, Jive wants to help people connect with other people and information in their network by recommending contacts and content to enable better decision making and job performance. It sounds easy, right?
Wrong. Combine this with not only your colleagues', but your customers' and partners' social data and behavior and that is one large data set to sift through. Never mind enterprise social software 2.0, I think we just leap frogged to 5.0.