Have a natter with Chatter...
Salesforce.com has unveiled a technology that it says will bring the functionality of consumer technologies such as Facebook and Twitter to the business world.
Salesforce Chatter, pencilled in for a launch in the second quarter of 2010, allows users to create profiles and real-time news feeds to help them to work more effectively with their colleagues within the business.
Speaking at Salesforce.com's Dreamforce user conference in San Francisco, CEO Marc Benioff said Chatter was the company's "fourth cloud" - joining its Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Custom Cloud.
He suggested that, in the business world, content, applications and people have remained separate, unlike the consumer world where technologies such Twitter and Facebook have combined them.
"The fundamental question that we have to ask at this point is: Why is there not a Facebook for the enterprise? Why is there not a Twitter of the enterprise? I know when my friend has been to the movies but not when my SVP of sales has gone to visit a key account," Benioff said.
"With Salesforce Chatter it's going to be the magic of Facebook and Twitter brought to your enterprise. You start to see the total concept of enterprise collaboration at a different level," he added.
Users can create a network of content, applications and people in a similar way to users of social networks through tools such as profiles, groups and contacts.
Chatter can also be linked to the 135,000 applications built on the Salesforce.com Force.com platform, while developers can also build apps that link it to business applications that don't run on Force.com such as Google Apps and software from the likes of SAP and Oracle.
This means users get updates when changes are made within the applications they use for their job. For example if there is a development in a sales lead, this will appear on their feed and the user can investigate.
Users of Chatter can add content, such as a PowerPoint presentation, to the feeds where they feel it might help the relevant individual or group.
Chatter is also integrated with Twitter so users can stream tweets that are relevant to their areas of interest to their Chatter feed.
As for security, Benioff said Chatter includes tools for businesses to determine which people in the company have access to which information.
When Chatter goes live it will be added to paid editions of Salesforce CRM and Force.com.
The company is hoping that employees who have not traditionally used its technology will also find benefits of using Chatter, therefore licences can be bought for a Chatter Edition that includes Chatter, Salesforce Content and Force.com for $50 per user per month. The aim is to eventually include Chatter as part of Salesforce.com Enterprise Level Agreements.
Salesforce.com recently launched a Twitter add-on as part of its Service Cloud 2 offering as well as an application it has built for Google's collaboration technology Wave.