2017 has been a year of movement in the community space. At Higher Logic, we acquired two companies (Socious and Kavi), Vista Equity Partners acquired Lithium in the spring, Jive was acquired by Aurea earlier this summer and, now, Jive is in the news again. This time, Lithium has acquired Jive-x customers and their codebase, again changing the online community landscape. (Just for a little background: Jive-x is for external communities (customers, partners) and Jive-n is for internal communities (employees).
So what does all this change mean for those of us in the community industry? And what can we expect going forward?
At this point, all I have to offer is my own speculation (if only I had a crystal ball to see what the future holds!). But I will say this: I’m not worried about Higher Logic or the online community space in general.
Change is inevitable and the change that we’re seeing, specifically with Jive, is a sign that the community platform space is beginning to consolidate. Consolidation is a sign of maturation for the industry as a whole. As online customer communities are becoming more popular and valuable for all types of businesses, competition between platforms has increased. With increased competition, consolidation is an inevitable next step—not everyone can survive.
When looking at the changing landscape, I’m proud (and not surprised) to see that Higher Logic is among one of the platforms growing, not shrinking or being consolidated. Clearly, we’re doing something right. Gartner recently released their Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Customer Engagement, including External P2P Communities in the Slope of Enlightenment.
This consolidation trend fits perfectly with that placement. The market is maturing and competition is stiff. In order to succeed, software providers need to have a strong offering and a strong understanding of the space. As a leader in this space with 10 years of experience, Higher Logic is well positioned to continue to deliver high-performing and cutting-edge online community solutions.
But what about people or companies that use Jive-x? How should they interpret recent events and ensure their community health isn’t disrupted?
I would say this: don’t worry about the community industry as a whole. Clearly, community is more important than ever before. If you are deciding whether you should stay with Jive-x or begin looking for new solutions, keep a close eye on things like technical support or how Lithium and Jive-x plan to handle migration. These two pieces can have a major impact on community managers and disruption of service for the end user.
Looking to the future, I’m sure we can expect more acquisitions and consolidations. That’s only natural as the industry grows. As an online community provider, this means we need to continue listening carefully to our customers and making sure we provide services that are valuable to them. We also need to stay on top of trends so we can grow our offerings as the industry grows and changes.
And for those of you who are thinking of dedicating your career to the community industry—or veterans who have been working with online communities for years—rest assured that the future is promising for you. Online communities aren’t going away anytime soon. If anything, we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.