At Salesforce.com Dreamforce 2009 conference a new generation of technology for enterprise class collaboration and social interactions has been introduced for business called Salesforce Chatter. Salesforce describes this as a new ‘Cloud’ of computing beyond their sales and service clouds that are already available in their second generation cloud versions. This interestingly named product is a combination of collaboration technologies that enable Facebook-like interfaces for discussion across sales and service applications within Salesforce.com. The software is available as a service where you rent access to the use of the collaboration capabilities on a monthly basis but available as part of existing subscriptions to Salesforce CRM applications and platform.
Salesforce Chatter brings capabilities from sharing of discussions in public, private and even secret groups to the ability to the use of Twitter functionality for broadcasting status, but also requests that can be consumed by those that follow specific content and people feeds in a business. Specific business groups are setup easily like Facebook where you can join and collaborate on business topics. In addition, applications -- social or enterprise (i.e., SAP) -- can be setup to broadcast updates and can be followed by anyone with proper level of rights and authentication. In addition, content can be posted and packaged so that people can see that it is available to use. Salesforce Chatter uses the security model of Force.com platform across content, applications and people where granular of security can be applied to the business collaboration and social computing.
Important enough is that Salesforce Chatter is available directly within Salesforce applications like sales and service, but it also can be part of native applications built on the Force.com platform by organizations or partners. In addition, the Salesforce Chatter is directly available on mobile technologies from Apple, Microsoft and RIM to ensure that it is readily available anywhere business people operate. Sales professionals can use this to collaborate on sales opportunities or gain access to information relevant to look at best practices. Customer service professionals can use this to request assistance or find information relevant to resolve calls as discussed by my colleague (See: “Salesforce.com Brings Social Media to Customer Service“). Salesforce is making the collaborative capabilities part of existing software subscription and for other organizations who pay a $50 per use per month for the software.
Salesforce Chatter is a gigantic step forward for organizations that previously had to purchase multiple packages of software, install it in the enterprise and maintain expertise to ensure it operates properly and is maintained by IT professionals. Of course, this has significant impact to how organizations examine how they want to bring the power of social collaboration capabilities available on the Internet directly into their business and enterprise. Just as Lotus Notes innovated in the early 90s with capabilities of collaboration and sharing of information, Salesforce Chatter brings a new generation of capabilities that over a half billion of people already experience with Facebook and Twitter. Salesforce is committed to ensure that enterprises can easily onboard and license capabilities in enterprise agreements as Microsoft has done over the last decade with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Sharepoint, which is clearly the main competition along with IBM Lotus and provide alternative on-premise approach. But Salesforce has brought direct integration with Facebook, Twitter and Google applications that makes their new capabilities very common but unique. The real value can exponentially grow when business can use this across their value from retail to distributors to manufacturing organizations or across other value chains that need to collaborate.
Salesforce steps into the business and social collaboration market where most would not expect. I wrote about this key priority for collaboration the beginning of the year (See: “Business Collaboration and Networking – Priority for 2009”) that all of business and IT should investigate and adopt in their enterprise. Salesforce.com as a leading provider of applications and platform for cloud computing now brings the power of collaboration to harness the power of your people and the investment your organization has made. Just as important enough is that IT can focus on the value of empowering their organization instead of just being the master of managing software infrastructure.
Mark Smith also blogs at ventanaresearch.com/blog.