Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just out of beta: Chatter

On June 22, Chatter made it’s public debut. After a lengthy private beta, consisting of over 100 customers, Chatter was officially launched to all of SFDC’s over 6000 customers.
Having participated in the beta, both from an internal perspective as well as part of Dell’s internal trial, I must say that this application is nothing short of revolutionary.

I have worked in the CRM software and consulting business for over a decade, in all that time we always talked about how CRM fosters collaboration among your sales and service teams. However, when you put that statement into context with Chatter, we were truly just giving CRM lip service.

Chatter is in many ways like a mash-up of both Facebook and Twitter, with a dash of Yammer round things out. Like Facebook you can define a personal profile and “friend” other people and send short messages to their “wall”. Like Twitter, you can post regular status updates to your followers, as well as follow your friends. Finally, like Yammer you can define and follow groups of people.
However, where Chatter differs from other social media tools is where it really shines.
  1. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, Chatter is private to your organization and leverages the security of the platform to keep things private.
  2. Functionally, in addition to following people, you can also follow, and post to, objects in your CRM system. Objects being any “table” defined in your database, such as Account, Opportunities and Service Incidents. To me this is the single biggest differentiator, it gives your posts context, thus fostering collaboration.
  3. Both public and private groups can be defined to link together birds-of-a-feather.
  4. Salesforce has alos provided an API, this will allow third party developers to create add-ons for Chatter as well as allowing your IT team to build integration with Chatter
  5. Finally, Salesforce has build the system, not as an overlay, but to leverage existing content management functionality. By posting a document in your feed, you are actually creating a piece of collateral in Salesforce Content. The document can therefore be shared, tagged and revised as appropriate.
More on leveraging Chatter’s integration capabilities tomorrow.

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