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Thoughts on Salesforce Chatter

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It’s been a while since my last blog post – and what better time to write than during dreamforce week?! I know that lots of you are excited about the latest announcement made yesterday by Marc Benioff about salesforce chatter (for any of you who missed the announcement you can click here and select the Chatter Announcement drop down to view); its certainly got me thinking about the many ways that this could be applied to different organisations.

Salesforce chatter is essentially facebook for the enterprise – it will add a new tab in salesforce called ‘People’ (or ‘Colleagues’ depending on where you look – I guess salesforce are still deciding but I guess you’ll be able to rename the tab to suit your own needs) and this tab will allow users to create a profile within salesforce.com, in much the same way as you would on facebook. You can then connect with key individuals in your business to follow what their working on, make status updates and add or link content. A number of great things I see about salesforce chatter are:

  1. You can use your existing sharing & security settings to show or hide information so that only the right people can see what other staff are doing
  2. It brings together all of your existing salesforce data & content, allowing you to see real-time updates to any of the feeds you are following. For example, lets say you want to see whats going on with your key opportunities – salesforce chatter allows you to follow the record so you will then be notified on your profile page (or whatever salesforce are planning on calling it?!) when that record is updated
  3. Its free! For existing users of salesforce at least, covering ALL Editions. You can bring any non-salesforce users onto chatter by purchasing a special ‘chatter’ license (see below for details)

So is salesforce chatter an app, a cloud, a product or just some kind of enhanced functionality? Well after watching the keynote again to reconfirm, I now understand that chatter is the first App belonging to the new ‘Collaboration Cloud‘. As I mentioed above, users with an existing salesforce license will have this new functionality enabled for free, and for a list price of $50/per user/per month you can purchase a ‘chatter edition’ license which includes chatter, content and the force.com platform.

As the annoucement was made just yesterday, its difficult to gague how popular chatter will be or how many users out there will embrace it. My gut feeling is that it will either work extremely well, or not at all depending on the culture within an organisation. I suppose the success that facebook has experienced would suggest that chatter will be hugely popular, however I for one will be interested to see just how willing people are to offer information related to their work lives vs their social lives. Quite an experiment!

Note there are additional features I’ve not been able to mention in this post, so to get more information on salesforce chatter go to http://www.salesforce.com/chatter where you can also sign up for a preview. Also check out the video below: