Salesforce.com has rolled out a private beta program for Salesforce Chatter, a real-time enterprise collaboration application and platform. Positioned by Salesforce.com as an alternative to such collaborative software applications as SharePoint and Lotus Notes, Chatter is an internal social networking application for businesses. It enables employees to stay connected to designated people, documents and applications.
Chatter will come equipped with the usual features found in social networking apps, including feeds, status updates, custom app updates, profiles, and content-sharing functionality. It will also include a set of pre-built social components that can be used to create new collaboration apps or enhance existing apps on the Force.com platform. One hundred financial-services, manufacturing, high-tech and professionalservices companies are participating in the beta.
Chatter follows on the heels of Microsoft’s enterprise-geared social networking application, the Social Connector Online, which links Outlook to such sites as LinkedIn and Facebook.
In general, demand is growing among enterprise users for social networking applications — although Chatter and Social Connector embody two very different approaches, noted Jeff Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies and founder of the SaaS Showplace.
“What is different is that Salesforce.com is trying to apply social networking capability internally within the enterprise, which not a lot of companies have been able to do,” he told CRM Buyer.
There are specialized apps that deliver similar functionality, he said, but none of the companies offering them have a footprint and presence in the CRM industry that compares with Salesforce.com.
“Enterprises aren’t looking for more internal social networking, they’re looking smarter ways to be more productive and stay on top of the overload of information that is out there,” Salesforce.com spokesperson Bruce Francis told CRM Buyer.
Chatter will include the following set of features:
- Profiles: Employees can create business profiles with professional information like personal contact information, area of expertise, and work history. Colleagues use profiles to identify those they want to follow in the network.
- Status Updates: Besides keeping colleagues up-to-date about projects etc., the status updates allow employees to share files and links.
- Chatter Feeds: A real-time feed that lets employees or teams keep the rest of the company in the loop on fast-moving issues such as sales leads or customer projects.
- Application Updates: Status updates from a customer’s Sales Cloud, Service Cloud or custom Force.com application are represented in the feed.
- Document Sharing: Employees can search the Chatter feed to access, share and download material.
- Security and Social Sharing: Privacy and security controls allow the company to manage who has access to the information in the system.
- Social Networks: Companies can pull in information about themselves or their customers from social media such as Twitter or Facebook.
- AppExchange: Apps listed on AppExchange can be made be social and stream updates to the Chatter feed.
Clearly, the most adept group of users [students] will benefit from Chatter; as will the universities that seek their interest and participation through out 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 insure 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’