Chatter is finally here – general release came on June 22, 2010 for the majority of Salesforce.com Users not participating in a beta program. Did Benioff’s "Facebook for the Enterprise" meet the hype? That hype has been building for an eternity in Salesforce.com time – it was first announced way back in November 2009 and discussed at last year’s Dreamforce! There were sneak-peak webinars and even a Chatter community for developers called Chatter Dev Zone:
My view at the moment as to the value of Chatter for those running Salesforce? Well, it depends.
Back when I was a customer, I hyped it in my own org but it was met with a fizzle. I’ll rack that up to our company culture and the fact that we’re not a typical sales organization, but I’m not seeing a chit or a chat from my Users, much less a Chatter.
That’s not to say I don’t believe Benioff didn’t get it right to bring social networking functionality to Salesforce.com. Could a half billion Facebook users have it all wrong? Communication, interaction and collaboration are morphing. The best example I can come up with, and it’s really pre-social networking, is how teenagers (and my wife) have taken a device designed to talk to people, the cell phone, and transformed it into a mobile version of instant messenger. If Facebook is any example of how people enjoy interacting and collaborating, then why shouldn’t your business tap into this stream of information and output from their employees (and even their customers!)? I’ve heard plenty of testimonials from businesses here in Dallas that participated in the Chatter pilot who believed it has been beneficial to their organization.
Probably the data point that has been used the most to quantify the impact of Chatter has been the one that Salesforce itself has realized from rolling out Chatter internally – a 40% reduction in emails. I’ve heard this statistic mentioned a couple of times. Once at the Cloud Force tour the week prior to general release and from my own account manager.
I wouldn’t be doing my part if I didn’t provide a couple of tips for implementing Chatter. One great tip I picked up from a colleague at Astadia, who said they internally mandated that everyone should at least post a photo on their profile – even if they didn’t want to post. For Astadia, with offices worldwide, it provided a face to the names of all the coworkers they had never had the opportunity to meet.
One other tip is to set some Chatter etiquette for your Users – "Chatterquette?" Here are some guidelines I came up with for my Users:
- Use a business attire photo for your profile (at Salesforce.com they wear Hawaiian shirts – so it’s up to you)
- Chatter posts are business records – they can be subpoenaed
- If you don’t think the content is appropriate to be sent in an email, it’s probably not appropriate to post in Chatter
Lastly, Administrators should consider setting up "Groups" for departments (e.g. Sales, Marketing, etc) to reduce unnecessary Chatter across the organization. Groups need their own team photos!
Salesforce sent out a great link on everything Chatter to Administrators – "Getting Started."