In response to Peter Schooff’s question Is Social Media the Next Frontier for BPM Suites? I believe the next real-time social enterprise network solution will be Salesforce Chatter
Since Chatter was announced last month, there is an ongoing debate as to whether enterprises need this kind of social networking, and should enterprise software be more like Facebook. Chatter has the advantage of social networking and the collaborative functionality, both required in today’s enterprise scenarios.
Chatter’s focus on collaboration copies the concept of Facebook’s feeds – the necessary information is brought to the user, and they don’t have to mine unsorted data for what they need.
Chatter’s interface resembles the popular consumer social networking sites with chat, news feeds and profiles. But it’s more secure and targeted toward an enterprise audience, providing users with access to data and documents and allowing them to create business profiles with professional information like personal contact data, area of expertise, and work history, making it equal parts Facebook and LinkedIn.
Chatter vs. SharePoint
Now that Chatter has gone into beta, people are focusing their attention on whether or not Chatter is a viable threat to Microsoft SharePoint. Chatter is, of course, very different from SharePoint—SharePoint is a much more traditional collaboration platform, with file sharing, document workflows.
Although SharePoint is now widely used, Salesforce execs note that it is not a “fun” product. It’s functional—and Salesforce Chatter aims to bring both collaborative functionality and, to an extent, employee entertainment.
Chatter will be integrated into the new Salesforce homepage along with a dashboard of reports and approvals, workflow, tasks and calendar. Chatter will show updates from people, files, applications (including HR), and will integrated other Feeds (Dow Jones, Thompson Reuters).
Salesforce has published limited information about schedules and costs: When it finally emerges from beta sometime this year, Salesforce Chatter will be available for free along with all paid editions of Salesforce CRM and the Force.com platform. Businesses that don’t use either of these products will be able to pay $50 per user per month for access.
From their website:
“Salesforce Chatter accelerates the demise of Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes – liberating companies from the cost and complexity of legacy collaboration software”
• Profiles: Employees can create business profiles with professional information like personal contact information, area of expertise, and work history. Using the profiles feature, colleagues can quickly identify individuals who can help contribute to the success of their project or task using relevant, context-specific information.
• Status Updates: Colleagues can break the cycle of chasing critical information. Status updates enable employees to automatically keep colleagues informed with dynamic alerts and prevent duplication of effort. Through this feature, employees can even share files and links to provide additional context around a project, sales deal or customer support case.
• Chatter Feeds: With real-time feeds, employees can stay on top of everything that matters to them with personalized updates from people, applications and documents. Teams can work together on fast-moving issues such as sales leads, customer projects, and marketing campaigns with greater efficiency.
• Application Updates: With Chatter, all relevant status updates from a customer’s Sales Cloud, Service Cloud or custom Force.com application are represented in the feed. The apps now have the ability to post status updates that can automatically flag time-sensitive developments like a new sales opportunity or change in customer contact which empowers employees to harness the real-time power of Chatter to do better business.
• Document Sharing: Employees no longer have to search through in-boxes or on file servers for important business documents or content. With Chatter, they can instantly and securely search the Chatter feed to access, share and even download the material via an Internet browser.
• Security and Social Sharing: Chatter enables employees to closely manage who has access to what information. Built on the trusted Force.com platform, the secure sharing model keeps private information safe. Unlike consumer social networking sites, Chatter is built for the enterprise on salesforce.com’s trusted and proven multi-tenant architecture.
• Social Networks: Companies can leverage the wealth of information contained in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to establish stronger bonds with their community of customers, partners and employees. The Chatter social networks feature allows companies to pull in relevant information from social media about the company and its customers to gain insights into customer satisfaction and to share expertise with the community. For example, employees can monitor the Twitter conversation about a particular prospect or competitor from within Chatter.
• AppExchange: Any app listed on salesforce.com’s AppExchange, the cloud computing solution marketplace, will now be social and can stream updates to the Chatter feed. Since they are delivered on the Force.com platform, developers can build or enhance cloud applications to use Chatter profiles, real-time streams, and application programming interfaces (APIs).
• Mobile and Desktop: Chatter helps companies maintain constant connection with their apps. With the mobile and desktop feature, customers can remain productive and in the know regardless of their location on their favorite mobile device whether it’s a BlackBerry or iPhone.