Salesforce: Chatter 2 upgrade to offer more tools, target more users

Salesforce is expected to announce today a major upgrade to Chatter, its social-like collaboration tool.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

It's been less than a year since Salesforce first announced Chatter and only three months since the company made the Facebook-like collaboration tool generally available.

Now, the tool, which has seen rapid adoption by Salesforce customers since its rollout, is gearing up for its first major upgrade. Today, at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, the company is expected to announce Chatter 2, a feature-rich update that will become available next month.

Salesforce makes no secret of the fact that Chatter is pretty much growing out of the molds of Facebook and Twitter, complete with a news feed, profiles and "following" capabilities. But the company is also enhancing it to meet the changing collaboration and communications needs of businesses.

At the same time, it's also expanding the company's reach beyond those who are using the traditional customer relationship management tools that gave Salesforce its rise as a cloud-based business tool. There are plenty of employees in a company who don't necessarily deal with customers themselves but might have a need to be updated on things like outstanding invoices.

Through Chatter, employees can follow a document or file, meaning that they'll receive an update every time someone makes a change to that file. That's a valuable time and resource saver over having to e-mail an attachment with an updated document to everyone on the project who might need access.

And anything that can reduce the amount of frivolous e-mail being sent automatically gets my attention.

But it's more than just that. The company has been bombarded with requests from customers on tools and features they want from Chatter to make it even better. Among those being announced today:

  • Filters: Allows workers to filter the feed by groups, people and records they follow fir quick access.
  • Topics: Think Twitter hashtags and the ability to follow the posts and comments related to a particular topic.
  • Recommendations: Algorithms are smart enough to make recommendations about colleagues to follow or groups to join, based on common connections such as management hierarchy.
  • Desktop: An Adobe Air desktop client allows for pop-up alerts from the Chatter feed without keeping a browser open.
  • Analytics: Admins have the tools to create reports and dashboards on Chatter usage.
  • Files: Employees can drag-and-drop files - from documents and presentations to photos and other media files - directly into Chatter.
  • Search: A toolbar that scans feeds, files, updates or comments in real time for an update.
  • E-mail digest: Been away for the day? A daily or weekly update will provide users with a recap of the latest posts from their feeds.
  • Chatter Central: a new Chatter home page where users can find all of the Chatter related information they need.

Chatter is a free tool within Salesforce and the upgrade will also be free. Users who don't need the Salesforce tools but could benefit from the collaboration tools within Chatter can obtain a Chatter-only license for $15 per month, per user.

Separately, BMC said Chatter 2 will be added to its ServiceDesk application for the enterprise.


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