Salesforce Bets on Enterprise Interest in Social Collaboration
The Chatter user interface demonstrated by Parker Harris, Salesforce.com's executive vice president for technology, is in the familiar Facebook style showing updates and latest project developments for each user's colleagues and work group members. Some of the questions that arise about integrating social collaboration directly into the Salesforce.com platform are whether or not it will increase sales force productivity by helping sales people close more deals faster. Another question is whether Chatter will reduce workers reliance on the long-established business collaboration tools of stand-alone e-mail and instant messaging by bringing collaboration into a centralized application interface. Or will it become just one more online application that clamors for users' time and attention?Salesforce.com is betting that enterprises will use social collaboration tools if it is tightly integrated with the sales force automation tools they are already using every day and if it runs on a cloud computing infrastructure that they trust. Benioff said Chatter will be ready for release to all paid Salesforce.com CRM and Force.com subscribers "early in 2010." The company is also planning to release a separate Chatter Edition for $50 per user per month and will include Chatter, Salesforce Content and Force.com. One of the key factors that will make Chatter's social collaboration feasible in the corporate world is that it runs on the company's secure cloud infrastructure, Benioff said. Chatter will sit on top of Salesforce's Force.com development platform with its programmable and customizable user interface, real-time workflows and approval process, as well as real time mobile application deployment. This in turn sits on the Force.com computing infrastructure that delivers the application scalability and security that allows companies to set up collaboration groups and workgroups that access information on a need to know basis.
But the fact is that some enterprises were already experimenting with using social networks as business collaboration platforms. Others were debating whether or not to encourage employees to use social networks as collaboration tools and whether or not social networks were secure enough to allow the sharing of corporate information on the web.