Enterprise Hive, a 5-year-old company is part of that emerging class of companies that aims squarely at the world of complex environments. They are a community platform that focuses, according to their presentation, around B2B complex large-scale enterprise communities, in the wheelhouse of Jive, with a little bit of Lithium thrown in. Founded by PeopleSoft veteran Vickie Tambellini, Enterprise Hive has a seasoned management team and just short of 15 employees and contractors that clearly have put some serious thought into their product and it shows – with a more than just interesting difference.
The Enterprise Hive community platform has three core solutions, HiveSocial for Customer Service, HiveSocial for Sales and Marketing and HiveSocial for Product Lifecycle Management. We were able to see Hive Social for Customer Service.
On first glance, it seemed to be a strong meat and potatoes kind of community platform; all the basic components existed ranging from activity streams to employee notifications, to dashboards to APIs to tie to CRM systems so, at least in the customer service product, a case can be opened, advanced or closed. The look and feel was clean and highly serviceable. All in all this seemed to be an offering that was definitely competitive and mature when it came to functionality but there didn’t seem to be a lot to differentiate them from their competitors.
Even without what seemed at the time a distinct set of differentiators, it was still capable and certainly competitive. One of their customers was using HiveSocial to run a 40,000 person community and it scaled to a known number of one million active profiles. So there is something to it, even at that level.
But about halfway through the demo, what seemed to be plain meat and potatoes got a spice mix that really set got the palate salivating.
Prior to that, there were a few light shakes. For example, pricing that was far less than their competitors - $15/user/mo. Nice, but as we will see a little bit of a concern.
Another was a built-in wiki feature, which allowed for effective internal collaboration and knowledge management. Again, a nice little extra to this strong basic community platform.
But what really set them apart was an exceptionally well-executed homegrown gamification engine they called Qlisto. The premise behind this was that that they felt that the inclusion of gamification in these customer service communities would increase the productivity of the agents and facilitators in taking care of customer problems. And while we got no data to show that was the case, seeing the quality of the engine left no reason to doubt the intent.
What EH called “the completion of quests” is the centerpiece of their gamification engine.
The idea is that you set out to achieve a goal related to customer service that might be how much you post, or how many comments you make, or connections you have or visits to a site you make, or questions you answer. In return for achieving these goals, you get badges etc. You are given multiple quest choices and can pick and choose which ones you want to make the attempts to achieve.
What made this particularly valuable was how well integrated it was into the community based customer service components it was. There was nothing about the integration to the primary system that didn’t look and feel and act elegantly.
Plus, it too, scaled. They have one customer who uses the proprietary gamification as a standalone application and that customer has 200,000 users who accepted 10,000,000 quests in the first year.
We do have a few concerns, though they are outweighed by the apparent value of this product (at least the customer service component).
Their stated target market is the Fortune 1000, which is the stated target market of pretty much all the major community platforms, whether B2B or BC – that would include among several others, Lithium, Jive, and Telligent. They are up against strong, well-funded and even public companies who have substantially more market presence than Enterprise Hive has. They have a pricing model that is far less expensive than any of their competitors, which is a real differentiator, but conversely, will leave them with less cash to do what they have to compete in this mature market. This means that, like so many other CRM Idol contestants in the past, they have to start thinking of allocating what will probably be a disproportionate amount of funds to expand their footprint in a target market with a large number of very big footprints. They also might want to think along the edges and look at the wider Fortune 3500 so to speak. It’s less well traveled, though still busy.
Even with those concerns, this is a company with a good deal of promise. They have an experienced management team who does know how to compete in large markets; they have a product that does all the basics and additionally has some very useful pieces like gamification to differentiate themselves. Finally, private community platforms are an increasingly important part of the customer strategies of the Fortune 1000 and beyond, which bodes well for Enterprise Hive.