Why It's Time to Embrace Chatter and Put Skepticism Aside
Three years after Chatter's release, there are many who still doubt Salesforce.com's collaboration platform. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee. The long-term collaboration improvements are worth the short-term workflow disruptions.
Tue, April 30, 2013
CIO — This article is the first in a series of book excerpts from the second edition of David Taber's Salesforce.com Secrets of Success, which is scheduled to be released later this year.
For Chatter doubters, there's been plenty to whine about over the last three years. But Salesforce.com has been doing some serious engineering with each of the 12 releases since then. If you thought that Chatter was just a gambit to make Wall Street analysts happy, it's time to reevaluate the service.
Here are my perspectives on Chatter—with the full disclosure that I have in no way been a booster of the technology. In fact, I'm not even all that hot on social media in general. In specific situations, social media can be valuable, but it's hardly a panacea. There, I said it.
But the whole promise of Chatter is that it's not a general-purpose social media platform. Its use case is focused on collaboration within a defined, self-selected community, while its user personas are in departments all over the enterprise. OK, fine. But why get serious about Chatter?
Organizations Are Becoming More Distributed, Virtual
Everyone gets that Chatter is about collaborative problem solving, something that even the smallest organization has trouble with. But as organizations get larger, more geographically diverse and more virtual, problems with simple visibility and coordination can become acute. The old days of solving a problem by running into Joe in the coffee room are over, since the virtual office is any Starbucks or airport lounge.
Analysis: Social CRM Offers Big Rewards If You're Persistent, Especially For Revenue Production and Support and Services
Sales and service functions in particular have grown increasingly virtual, with many reps having no office at all. For sales, service and marketing organizations, the natural center of gravity is already the CRM system. Having a collaboration medium baked into the CRM is a natural way to improve effectiveness. CRM is the virtual coffee room.
Chatter is All About Reducing Email
I'm now in my 30th year of using email in business, and I'm increasingly irritated by the inexorable increase in volume, even with spam filtering. As was reported in a 2005 study about office PC usage, email and similar interrupting technologies lower IQ by more than 10 points—nearly a full standard deviation.
The problem with email isn't just its interruptive nature, which can be solved with time-management techniques. It's the ad hoc way people organize information and communicate about it.
How you organize things for yourself will confuse me. Threaded emails help, but those email threads aren't linked to any other structured information. No matter how well you organize your inbox, it's at best a bunch of sticky notes, not a library. Worse, nobody else can reap the value you've created in your private inbox.