NEW YORK-Salesforce.com announced the expansion of what officials call "the next cloud computing paradigm" with a new round of private beta testing for its Salesforce Chatter platform, which allows Facebook-style social collaboration among enterprise workers.
In an April 8 press conference here, the company also heralded the launch of AppExchange 2, the next generation of its online enterprise-application storefront, which will include a new "ChatterExchange" with Chatter-enabled social enterprise applications built by third-party developers.
Salesforce Chatter will become available sometime in 2010, according to the company, and be included in all paid editions of Salesforce CRM and Force.com.
"We are in the era of Cloud 2, where social networking use has surpassed e-mail, Facebook and YouTube use have outpaced search, and new mobile devices like the iPad are creating entirely new ways to interact with information," Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wrote in a statement issued ahead of the New York press conference. "With today's announcement, Salesforce.com is advancing the shift to Cloud 2, where productivity gains are going to come from real-time collaboration available on any device. We've seen the future of enterprise software, and it looks more like Facebook on the iPad than Yahoo on the PC."
Salesforce has affixed the name "Cloud 2" to what it sees as the logical evolution of the cloud, where enterprise software starts looking and acting more like popular social networking applications such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Just as Facebook feeds its users with real-time information relevant to their interests and social network, Salesforce's executives suggested in an April 7 interview with eWEEK that so too will cloud-based enterprise applications begin to provide that same sort of granular focus, paired with the ability to collaborate on shared business events.
The combination of Salesforce's Service Cloud and Chatter will, in theory, allow companies to quickly update critical knowledge articles and closely follow high-priority customer-service cases, follow experts across their organization, collaborate in real time over more complex cases, update service agents of upcoming service-level agreement milestones, and share data about recent cases.
In a demo, Chatter looks and operates very much like Facebook, with various organization members leaving comments beneath notices about cases and service-level agreements. Users can tweak their profiles, click on a notice to see more detail about a particular case and follow others within their company. If a particular case is becoming more complex than anticipated, a user can click an "Escalate" button and bring colleagues with additional knowledge and experience into the conversation.
AppExchange 2 will include social-enabled apps from FinancialForce.com, Genius.com, Job Partners and others. Some 15 Force.com Labs apps available for free through ChatterExchange on AppExchange 2 include ChatterViz, Chatter Case Triage, Chatter Mass Follower, Chatter Timeline, Chatter Live Tag Cloud and Chatter + Google Alerts.
Salesforce has been busily integrating all manner of social networking tools into its cloud-based offerings. In October 2009, Benioff announced three new features leveraging SAAS (software-as-a-service) capabilities within the cloud: Salesforce Knowledge, which integrates an automatically upgradable, Google-accessible knowledge base into the Salesforce.com platform; Salesforce Answers, which allows an enterprise or SMB (small to midsize business) to create a customizable database where they can post questions or data to their user community; and Salesforce for Twitter, which adds Twitter into the Service Cloud to provide real-time information.
Twitter integration allows customer-service personnel using Salesforce to click a "Search Twitter for Service Issues" tab in the dashboard, and then view public conversations about a product, as well as send tweets about particular service issues.