TIBCO Launches tibbr and Demonstrates the Difference Between Social Business and Enterprise 2.0

There has been a debate raging for a couple of months now on whether there is a difference between “Enterprise 2.0” and “Social Business” and, if so, what it is. The debate began concurrently with the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, held in Santa Clara, in November 2010. I weighed in then with my take in this post. Since then, the debate has moved over to Quora, where someone asked, “What are the distinctions between Social Business and Enterprise 2.0”.

In spite of all this discussion, it was not until today that the difference between Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business truly became clear to me. The event that triggered my new-found understanding of these terms was the launch of tibbr, TIBCO’s “social computing tool”.

As TIBCO Chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadivé explained during the launch event, tibbr was built to deliver the right information, to the right people, in the right context. A noble goal indeed. tibbr takes advantage of TIBCO’s well-honed expertise in the management of real-time messaging at scale, their extensive library of enterprise system adapters, and a real-time rules engine that creates context for content.

Note the discrepancy between Ranadivé’s statement and the actual focus of the tool. tibbr is all about systems integration and message delivery; people are incidental objects in the system. This is intentional, as stated in TIBCO’s press release on tibbr:

“tibbr breaks business users free from one-dimensional social tools that focus on people…”

Ram Menon, EVP Worldwide Marketing at TIBCO further underscored the notion that tibbr is not about people relationships in two remarks. In the first instance, Menon described tibbr in terms of “process, subjects, applications, and people”, literally in that order. Later, Menon said that within tibbr, one “can follow people, but most importantly [textual emphasis mine, but reflects his vocal inflection]…can follow applications, can follow data.”

Do you see it? tibbr is the poster child for Enterprise 2.0, as it was originally defined by Professor Andrew McAfee. tibbr is literally about applying Web 2.0 technology design principles to enterprise systems. Social Business, on the other hand, puts people first – before applications, processes, and subject entries in the corporate taxonomy. The difference could not be clearer.

Yes, one can follow another individual in tibbr. However, as Jon Scarpelli, VP of CIBER’s Outsourcing Practice recounted during the launch event, his company switched from Yammer to tibbr because CIBER employees were “more interested in following subjects”.

My point? Social Business is about people first. Enterprise 2.0 is primarily about technology that enables business processes (or, more accurately, barely repeatable processes and process exceptions) via human interaction. Both are valid and valuable approaches to structuring and running an organization, but it is critical to know which one your company values most. Does it want to be a social business that emphasizes and connects people, or an entity that uses Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals when rigid, transactional systems can’t help? Answer that question first, then choose your technology solution.


5 responses to “TIBCO Launches tibbr and Demonstrates the Difference Between Social Business and Enterprise 2.0

  1. Larry – interesting distinction, and this is one reason why I like the approach that SocialCast is taking as well. The “contextual bus” approach lets you follow/view/interact with WHATEVER piece of the overall system you want to deal with. If people are the context, go for it – if a data stream (inventory level changes, stock prices, etc.), got that too.

    Great to see TIBCO tackling this area – agree that massive scale is already something they understand, and it’s flipping the pivot to handle adjacent areas to their core business, that gives them a significant strength to work with.

    Almost smacks of Steven Gary Blank, Eric Ries, et al – except that TIBCO isn’t exactly your 2.0 startup, eh?

    Great piece – appreciate the coverage of this announcement – too tied up at the moment to blog it myself, but I know it’s kosher in your capable hands!


  2. Hi Larry, nice post -I’m actually writing mine now

    You’re half-right, half-wrong IMO, can’t decide on which halves though 😉
    Knowing Tibco, they love to automate (we integration people generally do a lot), and humans scale badly

    The difference is not so much between people or process, but between free text and events. Free text is what humans produce, events are what machines produce – and tibbr actually eliminates any human layer in between machines and humans

    It is old-fashioned integration really, although that used to be machine-machine, and this is machine-human

    According to McAfee’s definition, not much would fit that, but certainly not this: http://andrewmcafee.org/2006/05/enterprise_20_version_20/ would classify tibbr not as a platform, not as emergent, and only somewhat freeform. Fact is, McAfee’s definition was hard to fulfill to being with – but I pointed that out already, I think

  3. Pingback: TIBCO Launches tibbr and Demonstrates the Difference Between …

  4. Pingback: Finally a great E20 tool – and people play the social card!

  5. I just wish this debate would go away. Both sB and E2 are the same, its the vendors and bloggers who can’t seem to get it straight.

    Naturally, if you provide a social networking tool for a business to use internally you would also connect it to their processes and data stores.

    That’s why I started RondeVoox. As a BI/DW practitioner you get tired of managing e-mail addresses (because the “knowledge worker” never remembers to look at the PM Portal) to deliver metric busters, threshold alerts and other events. So I created RondeVoox, with a simple service that an application and/or data owner can interface and submit event data in micro-blog form to.

    Recognizing that the general public (read my mother) can connect to Facebook applications and invite friends and family to participate in a virtual farming effort, I thought business “knowledge workers” could also connect to their information and colleague of choice and create communities around an event, hopefully to 1). Create awareness and 2). Solve in the most efficient manner.

    Again, it’s a natural step and I think all other vendors are doing it too, if not, then “want to buy my product”?
    Great post by the way. It was enough to launch me into excitement.

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