CIO Symmetry

Nov 20 2009   4:21PM GMT

Salesforce.com’s Chatter: A collaboration tool worth talking about

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Salesforce.com has announced that it has developed a collaboration platform that brings social networking into the enterprise — Salesforce Chatter. And for the more than 60,000 Salesforce.com customers, Chatter should be something to talk about.

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?

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