Chatter will compete against Lotus Notes and SharePoint but will be more like the social networking tools many people are already using in their personal lives. With functionality similar to Facebook, Salesforce Chatter allows employees to set up their own profiles including contact information, photo, work history and area of expertise. Users can also pull in any existing information from Facebook profiles.
Employees will then be able to collaborate internally through real-time status and content updates, similar to the way friends do on Facebook. Business applications also have a place in Chatter to keep everyone up to date on inventory, for example. Well, only those you want to stay in the loop. Chatter also allows you to filter certain information to the appropriate employees.
Even Twitter can be integrated with Chatter, allowing users to set up a search and automatically stream the results into Chatter.
Why do I think this could actually catch on in the enterprise? News of Google Wave (still in beta) hit the Web hard — with blogs, tweets and news outlets covering it from all angles. But many CIOs and IT directors still expressed a lot of hesitance when it came to the idea of Google Wave in the enterprise, citing concerns such as security, manageability and accountability.
Chatter, on the other hand, will be coming from an already enterprise-trusted source — a good steppingstone for organizations looking to bring more social networking into their corporate lives, as research firm Gartner recently suggested. There may be less resistance about bringing a cloud-based collaboration platform into the workplace if it’s atop a tried and true foundation. Salesforce.com already stores critical business information in its cloud applications and has delivered top-notch security and a trusted sharing model. This could up the level of enterprise adoption right out of the starting gates — that and the fact that when Salesforce Chatter is available next year, it will be included in all paid editions of Salesforce CRM and Force.com.
And if you’re worried about how this will stack up in the mobile world, Chatter versions are available for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and the iPhone.
Could this be the beginning of more collaboration and social networking within the enterprise?]]>
This approach gives users a view of only the functions they need to do their job.
“Instead of having access to 20 things, you get access to the two things you really need,” said Clay Richardson, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “You’ve eliminated waste and bloat.”
Vendors like Global360 Inc. and Microsoft have developed versions of their software that allow for role-based access for users. These packages include a number of defined personas, or user types. For instance, Global360′s persona-based BPM package includes three major groups of personas: the builder, the end user or participant, and the manager. Companies can then customize persona types based on what the jobs require.
The Microsoft Dynamics line of applications also offers a role-based design, developed after years of research on how users work with their ERP and CRM applications. This type of interface can help increase users’ desire to use the software and lead to higher job satisfaction and improved productivity, according to Jakob Nielsen, user experience director for Microsoft Dynamics. It can also cut training time. People “get more quickly up to speed and [can] be more productive faster,” Nielsen explained.
Have you heard of these persona-based interfaces? What has your experience been with them?]]>
Transparency is about openness and accountability in all areas of the business. In today’s economy, transparency is more important than ever, as companies are forced to strictly manage costs and resource utilization. And for midmarket companies that have smaller budgets and fewer resources to complete projects, using Agile practices to effectively develop and deliver software can help with transparency. It’s even known as agile transparency.
Alliant Insurance uses Agile practices for projects ranging from building a CRM system in-house to creating a customized website for an individual insurance broker. According to Eric Kaufman, VP of software development at the midsized insurance company, one of the main advantages of using Agile is transparency. “By using Agile practices, you know the status of all projects, all the time,” said Kaufman.
Kaufman’s team is using the Scrum discipline for Agile projects. Scrum practices are all about keeping the team connected and the project sponsor updated. A regular practice with Scrum is a daily stand-up meeting. Every day, the Agile project team meets and reviews what everyone did that day, the day before and what their plans are for the next day. It’s a way of keeping the project on track, quickly identifying any issues and providing transparency to the team leader and project sponsor.
Dave West, senior analyst with Forrester Research, echoed the benefits of transparency in using Agile practices. “There’s no place to hide with daily meetings [and] dashboards. And clear measures ensure that everyone knows what’s happening and what the status of the project is,” said West.
For midmarket IT organizations looking to impress the business, prove their value and provide more transparency into their workloads, getting Agile might be the answer.
Although this new generation of smartphones seems to be a tech geek’s dream, IT might actually be most resistant to new technology when it will impact the business. IT has to decide early on if it’s going to support yet another new smartphone. The BlackBerry was once the standard, and RIM paid a lot of extra attention to enterprise IT support capabilities. IT spent a lot of time getting applications to work on BlackBerry, only to be faced with the iPhone a few years down the road.
The executives (interestingly not the Gen Xers) were the big iPhone purchasers. The C-level brought these new devices in as primary work phones and expected IT support. And since IT is ultimately there to support the users, if the decision makers want Exchange on their iPhones, well, they’re going to get it. IT would have to manage iPhone support costs and risk exposure while working around hardware and OS limitations.
The problem is, IT then has to worry about a new set of security policies (last year Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS both had exposed flaws). Are there remote wipe capabilities? Is there encryption available? Further, the apps the sales team needs to use — for example, Salesforce.com, CRM, etc. — have to work on these new devices.
Although Verizon is offering some Exchange support for an additional fee ($15), recent reports state this will just be a software feature and won’t actually be in the same league as corporate network integration.
Do you really want to manage four sets of the same application (one for each potential device) and four different security policies, five times over?
You have to decide where to draw the line on device support – balancing user needs with business realities.