Salesforce.com has unveiled Chatter 2, the next version of its Chatter collaboration platform, which allows employees to post comments and share files in a Facebook-style environment. The rise of Chatter and similar applications has mirrored businesses' increased interest in social networking as a productivity and communications tool.
Originally created as an add-on application for sales teams tracking leads and opportunities, and released June 22, Chatter can be leveraged by employees across an entire organization. Users can tweak their profiles, form groups, click on notices and posts to see more details about cases, and follow others within their company. If a particular case becomes more complex than anticipated, a user can click an "Escalate" button and bring colleagues with additional knowledge into the conversation.
Chatter is yet another sign of Salesforce.com's interest in adding social-networking tools to its cloud-based offerings. In late 2009, the company introduced Salesforce.com for Twitter, which allows customer-service personnel using Salesforce.com to monitor public conversations about a product and send tweets about service issues. Through its AppExchange 2 storefront, Salesforce.com users can also download apps such as Chatter Mass Follower and Chatter Live Tag Cloud.
New features baked into Chatter 2 include Chatter Filters, which allow employees to sort through companywide postings for the specific information they need; Chatter Topics, where adding a Twitter-style hashtag (#) to an update will group it with other posts and comments; and Chatter Recommendations, which recommends colleagues and groups to follow based on common connections, number of followers, and management hierarchy.
Other features include Chatter Files, a repository for employees' documents and presentations, and Chatter Desktop, which lets them post updates and files without the need to open a Web browser; the latter comes with pop-up alerts for new updates. Chatter Search (for scouring Chatter's feeds, files, profiles and updates for particular keywords) and Chatter E-Mail Digest, a weekly or daily newsletter of the latest Chatter posts.
Chatter 2 will be generally available in October, at no additional charge for Salesforce CRM and Force.com subscribers. Some 20,000 companies currently use Chatter, according to Salesforce.com executives.
"The momentum behind Salesforce Chatter is astounding," Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, wrote in a Sept. 22 statement. "The excitement we see from the industry and our customers is proof that the feed is the new desktop."
With the rise of Facebook and Twitter, businesses have come to view social networking as a way to both monitor their customers and more efficiently carry out in-house tasks. In that spirit, companies such as Cisco and Oracle have integrated an increasing number of social-networking and collaboration tools into their enterprise offerings.