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Research reveals Chatter collaboration ROI

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11th Aug 2011
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Salesforce.com pitches Chatter as a revolutionary business tool, but what is the ROI that firms can expect to accrue through adoption? Nucleus Research has investigated.

With Dreamforce just around the corner, one theme we can expect to see emphasised is the centre-stage presence of the Chatter collaboration Cloud offering.

Launched two years ago at the same show, Chatter has made some significant incursions into some of Salesforce.com's largest enterprise clients, such as Dell. While Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff pitches Chatter as a revolutionary business tool, what are the deliverable benefits that organisations can expect to accrue through adoption?

That's the question that Nucleus Research set out to explore in a new paper on the ROI potential of Chatter. The firm found that companies adopting the collaboration tool did indeed drive greater productivity and made employees more aware and aligned with company goals, but also found that greater benefits can be realised when Chatter sends updates as data changes.

The research firm notes: “Email was a levelling technology that drove greater productivity and communication. Chatter takes it a step further by adding the social and interactive characteristics – and data integration capabilities – that traditional collaboration tools lack. Nucleus also found that, in many cases, sales is not necessarily the greatest beneficiary of Chatter: use cases from IT project management to competitive intelligence are driving even greater benefit.”

There's a useful starting point of course - if you're already a Salesforce.com user, you get Chatter for free. This in turn means that the principal cost associated with introducing Chatter is likely to be around training, but as Nucleus observers, most end users these days are already familiar with the likes of Twitter and Facebook and as such training needs are likely to be minimal.

When considering the benefits that Chatter can offer, Nucleus observes: “Chatter changes enterprise business data from a query-dominant model to a push- dominant model. This means two things: employees have more visibility into the business than before, and users can filter the incoming content to find the right information while reducing information overload.”

The key benefits identified are:

  • Improved collaboration, particularly across departments and regional groups
  • Increased manager visibility as Chatter feeds push information to managers based on their areas of interest
  • Improved responsiveness - the most common benefit cited by Chatter users

Nucleus found a number of standard deployment models for Chatter:

  • Sales collaboration - extending out to "non sales experts" who are able to track the progress of sales cycles as well as enabling sales teams to work together more effectively
  • Global teams - According to users spoken to by Nucleus, Chatter is described in many cases as shrinking the enterprise i.e. allowing people in offices, at home or in different geographic regions to work in unison
  • Corporate communications - the email replacement angle played up by Benioff in many of his sales presentations
  • IT project management - Chatter has replaced traditional project management tools enabling newcomers to development teams to get up to speed on the history of a project.
  • Infrastructure management - some customers have built custom objects so that devices such as routers can communicate via Chatter rather than being reliant on network engineers.

In conclusion, Nucleus states: “Given the relatively low cost associated with deploying Chatter, Salesforce.com customers deploying it properly to address clear business challenges should expect a payback in fewer than 8 weeks.”

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