Tibbr 3.0 and the crowded enterprise social network market

July 18th, 2011 | by Chan Chi-Loong

Everybody is looking at social media as the next gold rush.

It’s not surprising, given that social media has moved beyond the consumer space and into the enterprise.

At a press event last week, infrastructure software company TIBCO showed off Tibbr 3.0, an social media platform for enterprises that will be available in August 2011.

Tibbr was launched in January this year after being in development since 2009.

It may be a little bit late to the game though, and gaining mindshare will be difficult as the market is quite crowded.

There are a ton of niche companies who specialize in this space like Yammer and Socialcast.

Not to mention all the big IT companies, who all have solutions or are looking at this space, like IBM (with Connections and Lotus Live) and Microsoft (with Office 365 and Officetalk) and Salesforce.com (with Chatter).

So what makes Tibbr different?

According to Ram Menon, executive vice president of worldwide marketing for TIBCO, traditional social media platforms — especially mass consumer ones like Facebook — allow you to reach out and connect with as many people as possible.

This is great when it is about our personal lives, but when it comes to the enterprise, things like security and the right information flow is more important.

“In the enterprise domain, you want pinhole access to information, with the right information given to the right folks at the right time,” he said.

And his argument is that TIBCO, being in the space of event messaging, communications and workflow for 14 years, understands the domain and has built a better product in this space.

Tibbr can connect to third-party applications like Oracle iExpense and SugarCRM, and works across mobile platforms like iOS, Android and Blackberry. Ram claims that Tibbr can be deployed in “hours instead of months”.

My take? Call me cynical, but even if the Tibbr product has good reviews, the solution will have a tough time gaining mindshare in the wider enterprise market.

Customers who use platforms like Salesforce.com, IBM, Microsoft, Google, etc. will probably consider social media solutions from these big IT companies, who also integrate social media workstreams into their software platforms.

If it’s bespoke, an enterprise can choose a smaller, nimbler system integrator to implement its vision.

It wasn’t articulated at the press event, but if TIBCO’s vision is to use social media to differentiate itself from other infrastructure messaging players in its middleware stack space, then it makes sense. Upsell it’s existing customer base on the new product to defend and grow its turf (as I’ve argued before on Salesforce.com’s Chatter), and see where the market takes you.

After all, social media is still begining its nascent rise in the enterprise, and there’s lots of room for jockeying in the space.

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