A natural curiosity surfaces when a company from a different era starts using API's and leveraging the cloud. It shows how fast the world is changing as Web oriented architectures become more predominant.
Mastercard, Blockbuster and Pitney Bowes are all companies we've reported about in the past few weeks that are reinventing themselves to some degree by adopting API infrastructures and developing services and platforms.
In many respects these companies benefitted from a generation of companies that pioneered the deployment of API's and collaborative technologies. These are the companies that developed the social infrastructure now being rapidly adopted in the enterprise.
That's what makes BroadVision's entrance into the market so interesting.Yesterday, BroadVision announced a new service called Clearvale. It is similar to services that we see in the market from companies such as Socialtext and Jive Software.
BroadVision came into the enterprise market in the generation of Web technologies that emerged in the 1990s.
BroadVision made its fortune in developing e-business services in the Web 1.0 world. BroadVision is now a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq. The company has 214 employees and a market cap of about $53 million.
In launching now, it's evident BroadVision has learned from the others in the enterprise market. Clervale is a network that a company can use for its employees. It can set up a network for its customers and partners. It has IT admin controls. Companies that establish networks within Clearvale will have the capability to communicate in a manner that BroadVision compares to Facebook. It can be customized to make it look like the company's own service.
Giovanni Rodriguez is Broadvision's chief marketing officer. He makes this point:
"From our perspective, the market is only beginning to heat up, and a number of different approaches have not yet been attempted. We're building what we believe is the first "network of networks" deliberately designed for the enterprise. The approach enables a business to easily launch any number of networks -- ad hoc or permanent -- stitch them together, navigate them, and ultimately connect and do business with other companies that are building a presence in Clearvale. We believe that the "network of networks" effect -- where you give people the tools to "do it themselves" -- is what has helped to accelerate the growth of several popular consumer networks. Our mission is to do it for the enterprise, with enterprise rules and sensibility. Our 17-year history as an enterprise portal software vendor is an advantage here."
And that's where it seems like we have to take a step back and compare it to other platforms that come from the most recent rounds of innovation.
For example, Socialcast is built on an activity stream. Status.net is an open-source framework for creating mcroblogging networks. Yammer launched a new version of its service to support a more distributed form of activity streams.
Clerarvale feels like a portal. It has a wiki and a blog. It also has a microblog tool but it is not the foundation for the service. It's a service that offers different tools on one platform. That's an approach that has worked in the market though we do see activity stream based services getting rapid adoption.
We asked Rodriguez about its activity stream. It was not immediately apparent in our first look at the service.
"Actually, there is a microblogging tool that has been incorporated into the latest release. We agree that streams are important, and that they have in fact taught many businesses to understand the value of enterprise social networking. At the same time, we have either built or have integrated with a wide range of communication and collaboration tools with the understanding that the range itself helps to encourage adoption."
In other respects, BroadVision looks like it is on the right path.
The company is developing an open API, which it will launch in the Fall. The service is built on open-source. RESTful is built in.
BroadVision's language is of interest. The company uses the term "social commerce," in reference to its platform, which it calls a "network of networks." This seems to mean that the platform scan be used in a manner such as what SoftBank is doing. According to BroadVision, SoftBank will use Clearvale as a service to deliver cloud-based services for SoftBank customers.
In all, BroadVision seems like it is adjusting well to the new word of the social enterprise. We're not so convinced Clearvale is a Facebook for the enterprise. To do that would mean having a more core focus on real-time activity streams.