Will Salesforce Chatter Earn Channel Buzz?
Salesforce.com continues to polish Chatter, a private Facebook-alike “social platform” meant to stir employee communication and productivity. This comes hot on the heels of Google Groups, the search giant’s communication solution, becoming available to resellers. Will Chatter generate buzz in the channel? Here are some observations.
Announced at the Dreamforce conference in November 2009, Chatter remains in beta — but Salesforce.com continues to shine a brighter and brighter spotlight on the social media and collaboration platform.
The Salesforce Chatter page reads like a buzzword bingo card. In their own words, Chatter is:
“[w]here your application data goes right into your real-time feed and keep everyone in the loop. Where your content, apps, and people are all connected and working together. And where you make smarter decisions and watch your productivity go through the roof.” In other words, employees can set up profiles, post status updates, and form groups around, say, a project or even a company softball team.”
Chatter can import data from other Salesforce applications, and it integrates with Twitter and Facebook so you can see updates from all three in one feed. It also integrates with Google Apps, meaning that Chatter applications released through the freely-available APIs can query Google Calendar, for instance.
So, can solutions providers profit from Chatter?
Salesforce.com points to opportunities for VARs and solutions providers that have software development teams. According to Salesforce.com:
“…developers will now be able to use the Salesforce Chatter platform (http://www.salesforce.com/chatter/platform) to build social enterprise applications, and all 135,000 native Force.com applications will instantly become social.”
Sounds promising. But it’s too early to determine if Chatter will be a hit or a miss. Building a message board is one thing. But introducing a social media platform featuring profiles and status updates and applications could turn out to be a time waster for VARs and enterprises that already battle FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter distractions. At the same time, Salesforce.com has its hands full trying to improve SaaS reliability.
Even so, solutions providers and corporate employees are used to social media metaphors. And chatter could the glue that ties together corporate applications and collaborative applications.
Salesforce.com says Chatter Edition will be sold for $50 per user per month and will include Salesforce Chatter, Salesforce Content and Force.com. But the company is coy when discussing the platform’s actual delivery date — saying only that it will become available sometime in 2010…