Many of you know I am a big fan of enterprise micro-blogging. Think Twitter for your company. It is by far the most efficient way to share information, exchange ideas, collaborate and engage people in your company. Enterprise micro-blogging tools make companies more agile and improve performance because they capture the invisible.
Salesforce.com is going to launch their own micro-blogging tool called Chatter (now in private beta.) Chatter will compete with Socialcast, Yammer, Socialtext and all the other microblogging tools out there today. It’s a crowded space, but they will have an advantage because of it’s integration into their Salesforce.com platform.
Chatter provides all the typical features you would expect from traditional micro-blogging tools. You can create groups, follow the people most interesting to you, filter feeds to easily find things that are important, respond to specific users directly, share documents and links and more.
But, Chatter also has a few unique features. The most interesting is, unlike Yammer, Socialcast and other pure play micro-blogging tools, Chatter gives you a home page where all of your Salesforce data and important information is laid out for you to monitor. Think of it like a business application dashboard. Another unique Chatter feature is the profile page. The Chatter profile page appears more informative than Yammer and Socialcast from what I can tell. It provides your experience, skills and other personal information so others in the organization know who you are and what you do. It has more of a Facebook profile feel.
Another unique feature Chatter has is its ability to allow you to follow a document. I like this feature a lot. You can follow a PowerPoint presentation, a spreadsheet, a word doc. anything. I like this feature because it makes updating, and managing versions super easy. It also allows you to see what others think of the information and make corrections on the fly. Beyond documents and people, Chatter allows you to follow other applications, including non-Salesforce.com applications.
Chatter also gives you the ability to bring information in from outside social networks like Twitter. The value here is you can create a Twitter search for a specific company or customer and anytime time that company or customer is mentioned on Twitter, everyone in your Chatter group can see it. This is a powerful way to manage a customer and stay ahead of the competition.
One question I do have about Chatter that concerns me is integrating an entire organization. Traditionally, only sales, and marketing and the executives use Salesforce.com If Salesforce wants it to be a ubiquitous tool for the entire company they will have to create licensing pricing that makes it worth it to have everyone in the company to use it; including those who normally don’t use Salesforce, like product, finance and HR. The real value in micro-blogging comes from connecting the entire organization. Not just a few functional groups.
If you are a Salesforce.com customer, Chatter is a compelling tool to bring your organization together. If used appropriately, it has the ability to create proposals faster, identify useful information faster, improve customers relationships, increase sales, accelerate product development and more.
Whether it’s Chatter, Socialcast, Yammer, Socialtext or any other micro-blogging tool, your organization will benefit from their use. Find one and use it. They are about more than chattering, yammering or twittering, they are about getting business done.