There seems to be a trend happening in software / technology these days. We’ve gotten way out of control announcing products way before they are baked in an attempt to generate press and build FUD in a way that didn’t happen just a few years ago.Microsoft is guilty, announcing planned features in SharePoint 2010 almost a year before it is scheduled to ship. Google announced Wave 2 months before developers could get their hands on it and who knows when it will be publicly available. Today, Salesforce.com announced Chatter, a social integration tool that will turn water to wine and cram 10 pounds of productivity into a 5 pound bag. At least according to Marc Benioff during his keynote today. The downside of this miracle cure is that, like SP10 and Wave, it won’t be available until some undefined date way in the future.I’ve been hearing rumors about SFDC doing something cool around enterprise collaboration for a few weeks. I have to admit, my speculation was that they were going to announce a partnership to integrate with Google Wave. The first announcements made Chatter sound like it was simple integration / Twitter-esque clone built on top of SFDC.After reading Charlene Li’s post, though, I’m intrigued about where this will go. Some of her key points were:
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.
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.
This is pretty interesting and something that we’ve been working on for sometime at Socialtext. On the one hand, SFDC will be a formidable competitor in the market place. On the other, they are still 5 – 8 months from delivering anything in the best of circumstances.Also, there is still a level of acceptance that will need to be overcome. Many of the CIO’s that I speak with are still skeptical of having tons of data in the cloud. Salesforce brags that in 2011, 25% of apps will be in the cloud. Simple math, but that means that 3/4 will still be on premise. And let’s face it, most sales reps don’t use SFDC the way they should so paying $50 a month for a glorified contact management system beats hell out of a seven figure Siebel implementation. It will be interesting to see what kind of acceptance having deal status and team interactions in the cloud will get. From what I’ve seen, it is cool if a small group is doing it, but when a big enough contingent of employees has conversations in the cloud, it makes everyone nervous.The second question that I have is around the level of integration. They are currently promising a pie in the sky picture of this integration where everything is updating everything, but they haven’t explained anything at all about which apps this will work with (outside Salesforce) and what it won’t (assuming Oracle) nor have they gone into the security of having certain things shared and others not. Don’t get me started on how this will map to a company’s archiving policy.Selling social software is hard. I’ve often said that this is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. I’m excited about SFDC getting into the market. I love the competition and it will raise the level of customer acceptance to another level. It’s another endorsement. And we could all use that.Other posts about Chatter:
What do you think? Will Chatter change the way you work, will it be a blip on your radar or will it just be mindless chatter? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Microsoft and the Cloud Burger: Have It Your Way (arnoldit.com)
- Salesforce.com unveils social media platform for business (seattlepi.com)
- Salesforce announces the latest “internal Facebook”. Is the enterprise spinoff from Facebook’s cofounders still coming? (sharingatwork.com)