Hello Salesforce Chatter, so long Yammer?

Salesforce Chatter brings trusted collaboration and social networking to enterprises. Is it bye-bye time for competitors?
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor

Salesforce.com yesterday announced its new Salesforce Chatter at Dreamforce 2009. Dubbed as an enterprise collaboration application and social development platform, Salesforce Chatter promises to provide a secure social network within the enterprise, complete with individual profiles, status updates, feeds, applications, as well as integration with existing popular social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

"Why do I know more about strangers on Facebook than my own employees?" asked Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. "Now, through Salesforce Chatter, my business is tweeting me. My employees can use the models they love to get the collaboration they need."

When the product is available in 2010, not only will companies be able to use the standalone Salesforce Chatter features in new applications within the enterprise in a more secure fashion than one-off cloud offerings, Salesforce.com plans to immediately make social its other 135,000 native Force.com applications.

This is a good opportunity for Salesforce.com, as enterprise hesitation over pure in-the-cloud social networks is rampant -- and legitimate. With Salesforce.com being a trusted enterprise collaboration and application development solution already, this could up-level the use of such social enterprise applications, and bring more Twitter and Facebook data, into the enterprise.

Salesforce Chatter's biggest threat seems to be that of SocialText, which provides similar services and offers compelling enterprise-worthy collaboration and social networking services. It's likely now, however, that current Salesforce.com customers would choose the incumbent offering, so Salesforce Chatter adoption might grow through current user base first.

Other competitors, such as Yammer, may not have as much of a leg to stand on in competing with Salesforce Chatter. While Yammer has made some enterprise traction, most companies that use it are smaller to mid-size businesses versus large enterprises. Most large enterprises with whom I've spoken about Yammer express trepidation over the service's pricing and community model. At the same time, SMBs with whom I have spoken about Yammer don't seem to have the same security or expense concerns, so Yammer could stay a viable solution for the smaller markets. The introduction of Salesforce Chatter, and the already strong SocialText solution, should knock Yammer out of enterprise consideration.

"We are constantly evaluating tools that promise to increase the productivity and collaboration of our employees. Salesforce Chatter recognizes that enterprise collaboration is more than connecting people, but also connecting content and apps. With Chatter, collaboration within our company will truly come alive, all from within our trusted Salesforce apps," said Daniel R. Chiazza of Harris Interactive.

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