Salesforce.com on Thursday announced a private beta program for an enterprise collaboration platform. Dubbed Salesforce Chatter, 100 companies around the world are testing the platform that offers anywhere, anytime access to Chatter's real-time feeds via BlackBerry or iPhone smartphones.
Chatter aims to help companies understand everything going on in their organization and avoid missing critical information. Chatter is taking direct aim at legacy software such as SharePoint and Lotus Notes with a design that looks and feels like popular consumer social-networking sites.
In fact, Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, boldly declared that Chatter marks the end of legacy collaboration software like Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes. "Consumer Internet services like Facebook and Twitter have shown us better ways to collaborate," he said.
Plenty of Promise
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said Chatter represents an area with plenty of promise. "The different ways different vendors have been trying to leverage social-networking trends in business environments is interesting," King said. "IBM was the first company to start supporting different types of inter-organizational social networking. The ability to get your arms around information coming from disparate sources is a valuable concept."
Chatter offers profiles, status updates, feeds, application updates, document sharing, and more. Employees can create business profiles and use status updates to automatically keep colleagues informed with alerts that prevent duplicative efforts, and share files and links.
Real-time feeds let employees keep track of information with personalized updates from people, applications and documents. A feature called Application Updates makes sure all relevant status updates from a customer's Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, or custom Force.com application are available. The apps can even flag time-sensitive developments, like new sales opportunities or customer contact changes.
An End to Legacy Programs?
Chatter also features document sharing that avoids e-mail in-boxes and file servers for instant delivery, as well as security and social sharing that lets employees manage who has access to what information, and social networks that allow an organization to leverage information on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. One example is the ability to monitor a Twitter conversation about a particular prospect or competitor from within Chatter.
With an AppExchange feature, any app listed on salesforce.com's AppExchange cloud marketplace will now be social and can stream updates to the Chatter feed. Developers can build or enhance cloud applications to use Chatter profiles, real-time streams, and application programming interfaces.
But the question is, will Salesforce.com really put an end to legacy programs? "Salesforce's strength is in the small to medium-size businesses market. Those are really not major target audiences for the larger enterprise-focused platforms," King said. "Having a hosted service rather than buying a software license and host it themselves makes a great deal of sense for smaller organizations."
Salesforce Chatter is slated to be available sometime this year. Chatter will be included in all paid editions of Salesforce CRM and Force.com. A new Chatter edition is expected to be available for $50 per user per month and will include Salesforce Chatter, Salesforce Content, and Force.com.
Posted: 2010-02-19 @ 8:38am PT
"Facebook for Business" or "Chatter for Students" !!
Clearly, the most adept group of users [students] will benefit from Chatter; as will the universities that seek their interest and participation throughout the 'student life cycle'. Imagine the power of Chatter for Students (and Higher Ed in general) - who can now share; classes, study groups, assignment projects, social interests, curricula, career aspirations and experiences, content, research; join common groups as members of specific Colleges, departments, upperclassmen, Freshman, Sophomores, frats, sororities...... [ADD YOURS HERE] ....... in a SECURE environment that is flexible enough for personalization; all while taking advantage of a common security and data model. And, because the interface is familiar - the learning curve is about a half a minute !!!
By the way - we can explore the implications for MOBILE and iPad and eTextbooks at another time - all available immediately when Chatter becomes generally available (http://thehigheredcloud.com).
And what about those student graduates? Now they can have a shared platform so they can stay connected to their Alma mater and each other and all those wonderful experiences they had in school. Keeping those 'memories' fresh, relevant and alive will ensure benefits to the individuals and the institution (think Fund Raising, Career Development). Chatter for Students or Facebook for Business - call it what you want; its a wonderful tool to engage the student from application through the entire 'student life cycle'