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Salesforce.com expands social networking collaboration with Chatter

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9th Apr 2010
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Salesforce.com announces it is to broaden the scope of its push into the realm of Cloud collaboration with its Chatter offering, including a marketplace for apps.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison used to boast about how his firm would "eat its own dog food". It's a lesson that Oracle alumni Marc Benioff seems to have picked up. The Salesforce.com CEO brandished his phone in the air at an event in New York this week and declared: "For the last month, I have been running this company on my mobile."”
Benioff's statement was part of a pitch to broaden the scope of the CRM firm's push into the realm of Cloud collaboration with its Chatter offering. This is currently in a restricted beta roll out around the world with a general release at some point in 2010 (Dreamforce San Francisco in December?).
But in the fast moving world of Cloud Computing, it's always onwards and upwards to the next stage to keep momentum going so this week the Chatter strategy won its very own AppExchange. "Chatter is not just an app, it's a platform; it's inherent in our capability," declared Benioff.
Cloud 2
ChatterExchange is a marketplace for apps developed for the collaborative platform. Salesforce.com says this is built on 'Cloud 2' - the next generation of Cloud Computing: social, collaborative, and capable of delivering real-time access to data and information across new mobile devices. "Social networking users now surpass e-mail users," said Benioff. "That's because it's a much easier way [to use] social networking. Why isn't all enterprise software like Facebook It's really a compelling application; it's easier, its educational, you're learning all about these compelling concepts."
"We're moving to a new way to do enterprise computing; a new way to think about the enterprise," said Benioff. "For the last 10 years, we've really been participating in something really exciting: the desktop internet phenomenon. But something huge is happening in our industry right now, and it happens every 10 years or so in our industry. The door is opening, and we all have to go through it."
Salesforce.com attributes much of its collaboration push to the effects of Facebook. He's said it before many times, but Benioff said it again this week: "I know more about strangers on Facebook than I do about my own employees. But that shows there are exciting new models we can learn from.
"We are in the era of Cloud 2, where social networking use has surpassed e-mail, Facebook and YouTube use have outpaced search, and new mobile devices like the iPad are creating entirely new ways to interact with information. We've seen the future of enterprise software, and it looks more like Facebook on the iPad than Yahoo on the PC."
Facebook-envy
It's clear that there is quite a bit of Facebook-envy going on. "Facebook has really cracked a code on building these new collaboration tools," Salesforce.com vice president of product marketing Kraig Swensrud.Swensrud, adding that no-one needs to go to college to learn how to use Facebook. "The benefit [of Facebook] is that you get to choose who you follow, what you learn."”
It's that kind of user-focused simplicity that underpins Chatter, he argued, stating that Chatter allows an agent to stream information in real-time to improve customer satisfaction, agent productivity and, ultimately, success for every sales company. "Facebook has already trained our user base," said Swensrud. "Chatter helps you do your job; it's trusted and completely secure for your company. It becomes a private collaboration effort for a sales team to close a deal."
Saatchi & Saatchi is among the firms beta-testing Chatter. "Chatter revolutionises the way our geographically dispersed teams can collaborate and boost productivity from anywhere," said Brand DuBose, management director at Saatchi & Saatchi. "With Chatter, our people can change the game by sharing critical information, relevant products/services, insights and best practices to ensure that our biggest ideas and best work are implemented in real time."
ChatterExchange launched with 12 Chatter-enabled partner applications and more than 15 apps from Force.com Labs. The partner companies include Appirio, CA, DocuSign, EchoSign, Fairsail, FinancialForce.com, Genius.com, Jobpartners, Jobscience, ServiceMax and Xactium. Apps developed by Force.com Labs include ChatterViz, Chatter Case Triage, Chatter Mass Follower, Chatter Timeline, Chatter Live Tag Cloud and Chatter + Google.
A game changer
FinancialForce.com is among the partner companies. With particular focus on driving collaboration between sales and finance departments, the firm says that Chatter-enabled FinancialForce applications will allow more frequent and effective collaboration around sales opportunities, customer accounts and service issues in order to achieve best pricing and payment structures for big deals or avoid costly payment delays and disputes.
So, for example, a salesperson leading a large bid might collaborate with the team working on the bid and include the CFO or the controller, allowing finance to give input on how best to structure the pricing and payment schedule for the deal and to provide revenue-recognition guidance.
"It's a game changer in terms of how people will interact with each other and our application," argued Jeremy Roche, president and CEO of FinancialForce.com. "Many finance tasks involve chasing down information, and this will help them stay informed, deal with issues before they become a problem for the business and improve cash flow. Better collaboration with customer-facing teams will mean better customer service.”
Another ChatterExchange partner is ServiceMax which has added Product Chatter, Chatter Volume, and Chatter Maps to its field service-focused offerings. Product Chatter uses 'phone home' technology to automatically send Chatter updates from products deployed in the field when customer systems are not functioning properly. Chatter Volume and Chatter Maps tell you where the buzz is loudest in your organisations. ServiceMax for Chatter is included with the ServiceMax Suite.
"Chatter has made [our] field service application more usable," said CEO Dave Yarnold. "Chatter will transform the way employees collaborate and execute. We have added our own genius by incorporating our own Chatter innovations into our award winning field service suite. And we are making these ServiceMax Chatter innovations available to all organisations even outside our customer base."
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