SAN FRANCISCO: Salesforce.com has unveiled a business collaboration platform that connects content and applications to people, as well as people to people.
Salesforce Chatter is the firm's first enterprise-wide application, allowing all employees in different job functions to access the social tools.
"Why do I know more about strangers on Facebook than my own employees?" asked Salesforce chief executive Mark Benioff during his keynote address at the company's annual Dreamforce user and developer conference in San Francisco.
"Now, through Salesforce Chatter, my business is tweeting me. My employees can use the models they love to get the collaboration they need."
Benioff told conference attendees that Chatter provides enterprise collaboration with the same kind of social networking models made popular by the consumer web, but in a more secure environment.
Users will be able to create Profiles where they can upload contact information, along with their area of expertise, work history and a photo. Integration with Facebook will allow employees to automatically populate a Chatter profile with Facebook information.
Salesforce claimed that Profiles will be important to business users because it will allow them to quickly identify and connect with colleagues who have the information and expertise they need.
Status Updates, meanwhile, will allow employees to keep everyone informed of their current task, and a Groups feature will allow employees to continue working with their teams as they do offline. A feed will stream relevant real-time Status Updates.
Salesforce Chatter will make content social by enabling documents, spreadsheets and presentations to alert the entire company through the Feed when updates have been made, just as people are alerted when new photos are posted on social networks.
Applications will become social because relevant updates from the Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Custom Cloud, like a new lead or an alert that inventory is low, will also be represented on Chatter's feed.
Unlike external social networks, companies will be able to control which employees have access to what information using what Salesforce describes as a "social sharing model".
Finally, Chatter will be integrated with Twitter to provide business intelligence functionality. Users will be able to filter the most relevant Twitter feeds into their Chatter application, such as setting up a Twitter search for a competitor and automatically streaming the real-time results into Chatter.
Salesforce said that it will allow developers to make any custom or third-party application social in order to fit with the Chatter platform.
Salesforce has historically made major product announcements at its Dreamforce events, including AppExchange in 2005, Apex in 2006, Visualforce in 2007 and Sites in 2008.
However, Benioff claimed that Chatter is Salesforce's "biggest and most exciting announcement ever".
Chatter will be available early next year, and will be included in all paid-for editions of Salesforce CRM and Force.com.
A new Chatter Edition will also be sold for $50 (£30) per user per month and will include Salesforce Chatter, Content and Force.com.
In common will all other Salesforce applications, Chatter will be available on mobile devices.
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