The Bottom Line
What’s all the chatter? Chatter is Salesforce.com’s social collaboration and productivity tool for business. Your company may be skeptical about social networking and rightly so. Salesforce.com discovered social media tools are the enabler for people to view and act on information easier. Do they? Read on.
- Social media similarities
- Start groups easily, especially for large matrix organizations
- @Mentions add people to conversations
- Price will creep up with CRM features and customization
- Company specific social business processes may need to be instilled
- Standalone product does not build in real-time file editing
- Chatter leverages collaboration tool features of social networking for business use
- Wide price range offering to suit budgets, organization size, and features
- AppExchange pre-built applications add on functionality like data archiving, project management, and workflow tools
Guide Review - Chatter's Social Networking Capabilities
The main point of social networking inside business organizations is to connect people in collaborative and productive processes. For example, imagine quickly finding and engaging subject matter experts to answer prospective customer's questions or technical gurus to solve customer support issues. Let's review Chatter's social collaboration features as well as data protection, scalability, and efficiency.
Social Media and Chatter Similarities
Statistically, people are spending more time using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter than email to communicate, so businesses are getting smarter. Social collaboration features like feeds, status updates, group conversations, and file sharing have entered business applications. Chatter engages you in meaningful business interactions-and reduces or quite possibly eliminates less productive email usage.
Feeds allow users to sift through real-time status updates on what is happening inside the company. In Chatter's status update field, suggestive text says, "What are you working on?" Your post will reach out to your groups for comments.
The @Mentions is a popular feature in Twitter, allowing you to include someone in a conversation thread. Using @Mentions in your status update will trigger a notification email as well as post it to the person's profile feed. The person will also receive notification every time somebody comments on the update where the person is mentioned.
Chatter's Groups feature enables individuals to start or join public and private groups. Barriers of traditional department structures are coming down. In Chatter, you can set up a matrix group around a particular customer product delivery, for example, Super Bowl Ad Campaign. The group owner may send out invitations to others to join the group, or you may follow someone in the group to view the person's conversations if the group access is public. Participation is a proven management tenet enabling you to collaborate and achieve better outcomes.
File sharing enables you to share documents throughout the company or by group. File actions allow others to download, preview, upload a new version, or simply post a written or like comment, a powerful tracking feature carried over from Facebook.
One feature missing in the standalone Chatter tool is editing files in real-time. However, Salesforce.com's CRM editions allow you to integrate Google Docs or customize integration around your internal tools to establish version control.
Data Protection and Security
Concerns over data protection and security are valid because users typically need to protect proprietary information and in some instances may need to meet regulatory compliance rules. Chatter is built on SSL technology, the communications protocol that provides encryption security over the Internet. Regulatory compliance rules governing data protection, especially for insurance, financial, and healthcare applications will have a level of assurance with Saleforce.com's AppExchange applications, for example, Archive for Chatter. Integration with many other AppExchange applications is based on per user charge per month through Chatter Plus.
Editions Based on Company Size and Budget
Chatter editions are scalable per number of users, from five users up to unlimited users. Company size and usage will affect your decision. Price points vary according to your customization requirements and customer relationship management (CRM) features of Salesforce.com's products. Trial versions are available.
For non-customers of Salesforce.com, Chatter offers a core set of free "All Chatter" collaboration features. The only requirement is a verified company email address. Sign up takes only a few minutes.
Let's face it--staying connected is a selective process. So organizational design for people accustomed to matrix organizations may be a step ahead in this social collaboration model, though frequent users of social media will also be quick to adapt to Chatter's look and feel.
What would it take to see not only "real time" but the "right time" to accomplish your online collaboration needs? Helpful advice may be to establish social collaboration guidelines as well as proven review cycles and deadlines to stay on task and on schedule. Since Chatter is enabling people to collaborate quickly and stay productive within your organization, you may want to look closer at what this product has to offer your company-the social enterprise is the wave of the future, today.