After more searching, Lowe found that Jive Software Inc. had what he was looking for.
"Right now, Jive looks to be in the driver's seat as the leader in the corporate social networking tools market, with large analyst firms showing them love and a reasonably impressive customer list," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "They've built a lot of features and functions into their various packages. They also have cloud computing , a dedicated host with software as a service, or traditional corporate data center deployment options, which give customers plenty of choices to match their needs."
Those kinds of services were what Alcatel-Lucent was looking for, Lowe said. It also helped that with one service, Jive allowed the company to have external and internal options. With the external part of the service, Alcatel-Lucent could connect with customers, partners and suppliers. And with the internal service, employees could communicate and collaborate with one another.
"Corporations are increasingly aware of the trends in the consumer market and are constantly looking there to see what can be adapted to fit corporate purposes," Olds said. "Their employees, friends and family are using social networks as a way to have a richer and broader social life. And how they interact in these networks isn't all that much different than the kinds of communication and collaboration that need to take place in the business world. To an extent, social networks are tailor-made tools for employees who are knowledge workers."
Lowe said he began working on the Jive project in March 2009 and spent the next 13 months gathering requirements, analyzing competing offerings and getting the IT department to sign off on the project. Those 13 months also gave him time to go to each of the company's business units to gather funding. "It was an exciting entrepreneurial way of getting things done," Lowe said.
The Jive platform was rolled out April 6. Lowe initially sent an e-mail about the service to just 125 people in the company, giving them each a log-in and inviting them to join. Membership spread from there, and Alcatel-Lucent now has nearly 20,000 registered Jive users. According to Lowe, about 200 to 400 people join every day. On any given day, about 1,000 people use the system in one way or another, he added.