Socialtext, Yammer, Salesforce.com's Chatter, and other social collaboration platforms have a new rival in the form of Tibbr, a product that creator Tibco hopes will be the standard for large enterprises.
Tibbr, first announced in late 2009, will be launched Monday at an event in San Francisco. While sharing the now-familiar concept of information streams with other social platforms, Tibbr throws in a twist by having users follow specific "subjects": data, topics, or events generated by a company's existing business applications, rather than specific people in the organization.
This approach is better than simply following people with like-minded interests, said Ram Menon, executive vice president of worldwide marketing. "Billy in shipping in San Diego doesn't know Joe in shipping in Hong Kong, but Samsung is their biggest client," he said, giving a hypothetical example. Therefore, a subject dubbed "Samsung shipments" could be created, perhaps pulling in data from a logistics system, and both workers could follow it through Tibbr.
Tibco has also tried to improve the concept of information-stream filtering. "What we're trying to do is think of the grown-up person in an enterprise with varying priorities," Menon said. "If it's a post from my boss, I want it in real time. If it's a post from a marketing campaign, you know what, let me know in the morning and send it to my desktop."
The platform also allows workers to integrate their Tibbr streams with outside social networks such as Facebook, if they desire. Administrative settings let such tie-ins be one way only, ensuring that corporate data doesn't make it outside the firewall.
Tibbr also offers an "event stream framework" that line-of-business managers can use to create subjects without help from IT. For example, a sales manager might want to pull in a stream of frequently updated or accessed fields from the company's CRM (customer relationship management) application.
Other enterprise-friendly features include mobile support and integrations with Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP, for user authentication and access. Tibbr is offered as SaaS (software as a service) but also in on-premises form.
That feature set is the result of a longer-than-anticipated but worthwhile period of development, Menon said.
Tibco launched an initial beta version of Tibbr several months after the initial announcement, but soon learned that "just slapping on typical features that have been popularized in the consumer world doesn't work for the enterprise," Menon said.
For one, "in highly regulated industries they're very reluctant to have their most private conversations floating in the ether," he said. Therefore, Tibco decided it needed an on-premise version.
However, "as soon as you say on-premises that's a six-month IT project. So we worked on that," he added. Using Tibco's expertise in middleware, the company developed methods that enable Tibbr to get up and running on-premises in just a couple of hours, much like the SaaS version, he said.