Seesmic's tilt at enterprise

Melding consumer experience with enterprise applications output sounds like a fantasy untill you understand what Salesforce.com and Seesmic are doing.

Last week, Loic LeMeur, founder and CEO Seesmic was in London doing a dog and ony alongside Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce at Cloudforce. The big deal was the announcement that Seesmic has integrated Salesforce.com's Chatter into the Seesmic Desktop while preserving the private nature of Chatter.

The new Seesmic Desktop which uses Silverlight, integrates 40+ plug-ins for other services. The usual suspects: Twitter, FaceBook and Foursquare are there along with others like Ning, LinkedIn and SocialCast. One early example is the Oracle Community that runs on Ning. I expect to see many more of these.

'So what?' you might think but in fact it IS a big deal. For the first time we are starting to see how the consumer view of design can cross over into the enterprise to offer a consolidated view of lifestreams that touch upon different aspects of a person's work and non-work lives.

I see tremendous utility for this style of application for monitoring both outward facing activities related to sales and marketing alongside inwards facing activities related to customer service. The process context isn't quite there but then representing that in Seesmic Desktop might not be desirable for a host of reasons.

I visited Seesmic this week because I wanted to hear something of Loic's thinking on this topic. He is a self confessed newbie to the enterprise space and readily acknowledges there is much to learn. Even so, it is clear from listening to him that he is working hard to understand the use cases to which such a solution can be put. "We can think about actively managing and monitoring marketing campaigns in real time," he said. On the Chatter front, he says that half his people are working on that development. "We are Salesforce users, but it was quite a surprise when Marc [Benioff] called me up to have a meeting about this. WIthin a couple of hours we were asked to make the integration."

Salesforce gets insights into the user experience from the consumer perspective that it could not otherwise achieve without replicating something that is already in place. This is a raidcal bet on Salesforce.com's part given that it is firmly aimed at enterprise and is wanting to continue its push into larger accounts. In one sense it can be seen as a way of removing the barriers to enterprise allowing services like Facebook onto their systems landscape because Seesmic has the potential to provide a safe framework through which social applications can be consumed.

I get the impression that Salesforce.com is placing a significant bet on this. Salesforce.com insiders tell me that Loic is scheduled to present at a company strategic planning 'all hands' session this week. Loic says that Salesforce.com want to show Seesmic at other upcoming Cloudforce events.