Salesforce.com Chatter Raises Questions About the Future of Enterprise Collaboration

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Salesforce.com customers now have a new way to communicate and collaborate. On June 22, Salesforce.com announced the general availability of Chatter, a cloud-based enterprise social collaboration application and platform. Chatter applies social networking features made popular by Facebook and Twitter—such as profiles, status updates and real-time feeds—to business collaboration.

I recently spoke with Salesforce.com's Director or Platform Research Peter Coffee about Chatter, which was launched in private beta in February. You can read excerpts from my discussion with Peter here.

Peter also shared some interested results from a survey that Salesforce.com did of its customers using Chatter. According to the company, a total of 135 responses to the survey were received during June. The respondents were randomly selected and represent organizations of all sizes and a variety of industries. Average success metrics

  • 27% increase in collaboration
  • 27% improvement in team work
  • 22% improvement in finding information quickly
  • 19% improvement in Salesforce user adoption
  • 16% increase in productivity
  • 9% increase in customer responsiveness
  • 4% increase in close rates
  • 3% increase in sales revenue
  • 86% agree Chatter is easy to use
  • 82% agree Chatter is fun to use
  • 94% found value in following opportunities
  • 93% found value in following custom objects
  • 92% found value in following accounts
  • 92% found value in following contacts
  • 89% found value in following cases
  • 86% found value in following leads
  • 85% found value in posting status updates for everyone to see what they’re working on

These are impressive stats. I can see the value in a Facebook-like interface for enterprise collaboration, but I wonder how open companies will be to yet another collaboration tool--especially since there is still real (and justified) caution around social media in the workplace.

Peter and I talked a lot about this, and he emphasized that Chatter (see slideshow here)is built on the trust model that's at the bottom of Force.com platform--where every object has distinct privileges. This is very different from public social networks, where security-minded users are hard-pressed to keep up with (or sometimes even know about) changes made to the networks.

How have Facebook and Twitter impacted your business? Is Chatter something that your company is looking at? Do you think the social networking model has a place in business?