Not A Rumor: Salesforce Chatter Goes Beta


Chatter, which Salesforce unveiled at its Dreamforce conference in November, is essentially a social networking system for businesses to use within their organizations. It's slated to be generally available sometime this year.

Companies participating in the limited beta program include Reed Exhibitions, Schumacher Group and TransUnion. The companies are spread across a number of industries, including financial services, manufacturing and high tech, and were chosen based on their existing Salesforce technology deployments and potential Chatter use cases, the company said.

Chatter provides a range of collaboration capabilities including user profiles, status updates, real-time feeds, document sharing, updates from other applications and links to other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Salesforce is offering Chatter as a stand-alone system and building Chatter capabilities into its sales and service applications. "I think that's how the majority of our customers will start using it," said Bruce Francis, Salesforce vice president of strategy, referring to the Chatter features within the Sales Cloud 2 application.

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But he said the Chatter platform, which customers and channel partners can develop applications on, is where customers will realize the most benefit.

Salesforce is positioning Chatter as a cloud alternative to on-premise and hosted collaboration applications. Salesforce Chatter "accelerates the demise of Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Notes" the company's beta announcement press release proclaims with some bravado.

"We think the collaboration will be a huge benefit for our customers," said Narinder Singh, chief marketing officer at Appirio, a San Mateo, Calif.-based cloud application solution provider. Appirio offers cloud software, including a professional services system built on Salesforce's platform, combined with a range of consulting services.

The company has built Chatter into a new version of its professional services application called "Social PS Enterprise" and will make that available once Chatter is released. Singh said that application could be used for a range of professional services tasks such as skills management and employee certification.