Salesforce insists on 'Facebook for enterprise'
Dreamforce 09 Tired of the Facebook hype and metaphors stretched to breaking point? Well, now you've got "Facebook for the enterprise" from Salesforce.com, trying to stake out its place in enterprise collaboration.
On Wednesday, the software-as-a-service provider announced Salesforce.com Chatter, which it described as providing "realtime collaboration for content applications and people."
The update to Salesforce.com's increasingly diverse stable of hosted and mashable software will be released in calendar 2010, priced $50 per user per month.
Chatter was announced at Dreamforce in San Francisco, California, in conjunction with something Salesforce.com called Cloud 2 and the Service Cloud 2.
Mostly, these amounted to the same old existing or pre-announced services from Salesforce.com wrapped in grandiose pontifications - and spiced with just a few, new additions.
Service Cloud 2 will add Salesforce Answers in February 2010 for companies to "crowd-source knowledge and leverage Facebook," a five-minute upgrade service that's currently in closed testing and is due for pilot next February, a report builder that will hit developer preview in February, and the Customer Interaction Cloud announced with Cisco Systems for a customer contact center in the cloud that will be delivered in the first quarter.
But Chatter is Salesforce.com's attempt to branch further out of purely business applications. Clearly, Salesforce.com's now going for collaboration - a market dominated by Microsoft's Office, SharePoint, and Exchange and IBM's Lotus.
Recently, Salesforce.com partner Google has also tried to move into collaboration, with Wave.
Salesforce.com Chatter will feature the by-now standard collaboration and Web 2.0 staples of feeds that update profiles, status updates, groups, Twitter, and Facebook. Documents like presentations and spreadsheets will also be able to alert the entire company.
The system is stitched together using a string of Web 2.0 tools. Salesforce.com announced the Chatter APIs, to APIs push data from applications into Chatter feeds.
Otherwise, it's a Web 2.0 tools smorgasbord. Google's Developer Toolkit for Google Apps and the Google App Engine for developers to build applications that suck data into Chatter from Google Apps. The already announced Facebook Developer Toolkit and Twitter Developer Toolkit will let developers pull in information from Facebook and Twitter.
Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff told a customer, partner, press, and analyst lunch at Dreamforce that companies like Microsoft and IBM offer "status quo" technologies. Still, Salesforce.com will try to work with rather than replace them. It has to, given so much corporate data is locked up in applications like Office and Exchange.
"What are trying to with Chatter and the Sales Cloud and Service Cloud is to show customers a new way, [of] lower cost and that's easier to use and at the same time show them the ability to integrate into that capability," Benioff said. ®