At its Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com announced the launch of Chatter Collaboration Cloud. On the surface, it may look like merely Twitter integrated deeply into Salesforce.com’s offerings, but it’s really a social platform that can integrate multiple inputs that will accelerate the opening up of enterprise applications.
I was pre-briefed about the announcement, so will walk you through major highlights and also discuss a few implications.
Chatter Collaboration Cloud reflects a recent expansion in Salesforce.com’s offering, continuing where Sales Cloud 2, Service Cloud 2, and Custom Cloud 2 left off. Chatter will be Salesforce.com’s “social platform”, integrating in profiles, status updates, groups, feeds, and of course, information from Twitter and Facebook.
When it launches in Q2 2010, it will be a free offering with premium options like compliance features. It will be available in all Salesforce.com products as well as a standalone offering (although I didn’t see a demo of the standalone option. The fact that there will be a basic social platform for free is a blow not only to microblogging players like Yammer, but also should concern collaboration players like 37 Signal’s Basecamp, Jive, and yes, even Sharepoint.
But the real power comes from the integration of the social platform into Salesforce.com offerings. The top navigation tabs in the CRM module will change to include “Profile” and “Groups” while the “Twitter Conversations” tab will go away. People will be able to import their profiles from sites like Facebook and also form group around topics, such as winning a particular business.
But the interesting development is the integration of social updates directly into the context of the sales opportunities. Companies may be using Yammer, Sharepoint or some other type of collaboration platform to discuss deals. The pain point: they lacked the context of the deal itself. Chatter integrates those conversations, associating them with specific deal, accounts, or groups with the use of hashtags.
Essentially, Chatter enables presence within Salesforce. This means you’ll be able to see my update “Working on a presentation for #Ford” not only on my profile page, but also in the context of the Ford deal. So my salesperson will see that information on the Ford account as an update, even if s/he’s not actively following me. This is about putting the conversations and social objects in the context of where they will be most useful.
In a clever twist, Salesforce.com also makes opportunities an entity. If I’m following the Ford deal, I’ll get updates when there is activity on the account, for example, when a competitor has been identified on the deal. That means your enterprise application will send updates that you can follow directly in your news stream, interspersed with updates from colleagues.
This means your enterprise app will be “adopting” social technologies, moving away from sending notifications via email (and cluttering up your inbox) and instead, sending updates just like everyone else on your team into the news stream. Essentially, your enterprise app will be “tweeting”, with it’s own “profile” and Chatter updates aggregated into one place.
Lastly, Chatter is an open enough platform that it can incorporate social content from multiple sources. For example, a person’s profile details from Facebook could be appended with data from Rapleaf, or activities from a client project in Sharepoint could “update” account information inside of Salesforce.com. This is already happening: Jive recently partnered with Radian6 to provide built-in social monitoring (commentary from my partners Ray and Jeremiah is available). Other nimble players like Socialtext and Lithium are also moving in this direciton.
What This Means
- Enterprise apps get social–and smart. This is more than merely integrating Twitter-like functionality into CRM and creating “social CRM”. This is a rethink and elevation of how information flows around an organization, and where it lives. The elevation of deals to be on the same level as people is significant — in every other social platform, people reign supreme and the world pivots around them. Look for social CRM providers like Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and many others to open up their platforms as well.
- Updates and notifications get integrated & aggregated where they’re needed. It’s one thing to use Twitter for customer support. It’s quite another to integrate it into the workflow of the organization. When Service Cloud 2 is enabled with Chatter, people will be able to see the history of interactions with the customer, including when it’s happening off their site. RightNow’s integration with Lithium and acquisition of HiveLive is an indication of trends to come.
- Enterprise apps and collaboration platforms will need to be more open. Enterprise products like Sharepoint and Oracle CRM, and will need to accelerate their integration of social tools into their platforms to provide services they can’t easily offer. Likewise, Salesforce.com will have to extend its new social data into other platforms as well. If I’m an enterprise customer of both Salesforce.com and Sharepoint, I would want there to be deep integration between the two systems. The risk of not acting: smaller players like Lithium, Jive, and Socialtext will gain a greater foothold because of their ability to integrate and open up their platforms.
- Salesforce.com moves to incorporate the 10 elements of social enterprise apps. Chatter engages new stakeholders by opening up the system to new types of users, collaborators, networks, and communities. More importantly, it supports pervasive & natural collaboration. Chatter enables knowledge worker skills into existing work flows.
I’ll be posting screenshots as soon as official ones are available.