Salesforce Chatter Matters – Adding Social Capabilities to Enterprise Apps

November 19, 2009 Appirio

Narinder Singh

Today I had an opportunity to present
the next generation of our Professional Services (PS) Cloud solution, Social PS Enterprise, with Marc Benioff on stage at Dreamforce. For the last six months, we’ve toured around discussing PS Enterprise with great response from customers – VP of Services, Services Ops and Managers and Consultants. Our message – tying together sales with professional services, providing full end-to-end processes to manage your people, customers, projects and numbers, and ability to easily scale with a powerful underlying platform – resonated with an industry ill-served by traditionally manufacturing-centric enterprise systems.

Yet in many of the pundit conversations we’ve been asked why build on Force.com. Aren’t we worried about losing control over the underlying platform our entire application relies on? Today, more than any other, explains the power of building on top of cloud platforms. In a single announcement, a single release, Appirio’s Professional Services Enterprise Solution will become “Social.”

Because Force.com is a true multi-tenant cloud platform, an addition by salesforce.com to that platform (in this case chatter), allows all customer apps and ISV solutions to inherit those same capabilities.

Professional Services have always been social, their systems just haven’t been able to handle a conversation
Many of our customers had asked for capabilities like these. They did not always use words like “social business apps” or “twitter” but
often contrasted their business life with how Facebook, Twitter or the web work. Because people are at the very core of their businesses, services firms are always looking for ways to work better together and make better, data-driven, decisions. Their interests are in actions like improving utilization, making better staffing decisions, taking advantage of new information and knowledge across their organizations. Professional Services Automation (PSA) solutions are traditionally the domain of the administrative and financial team of a services business. Consultants only interact with a PSA application to enter time or file expenses – low value-added activities.

The success or failure of a professional services team depends on how effectively consultants and others work together. Today, that engagement happens through email, IM, phone conversations and spreadsheets/documents – all completely disconnected from the business systems of a company. Why does this disconnect matter? Because islands of collaboration without business context can be misguided. And business process without collaboration is a shell of what really drives action in an organization.

Now enterprise applications, our PS Enterprise being the first, can become social– allowing a conversation between business events like pipeline, projects and financials, and people. We’ve been able to add dozens of features and use cases with limited or even no additional development because of the addition of the chatter platform. Systems can chatter important updates (my project end date has changed), and people can have conversations about those changes (staffing adjustments, sending out an invoice, asking about a press release) with the context of data from their systems. (Click here to Social PS Enterprise in action)

Early reaction from discussions with customers we’ve shared the news with has been fantastic – social scenarios for professional services just makes sense.

What about the rest of my apps?

Chatter as a platform goes beyond ISV solutions like our Social PS Enterprise (no matter how exciting). Each custom application ever built on Force.com will be able to participate in internal conversations. Appirio’s enterprise clients like Japan Post, Starbucks, Thomson Reuters, BMC, Transunion, ACI and others now can select any object in their Force.com applications and allow them to chatter. Business users in these companies can then safely, securely, and privately have conversations triggered by and about that data. They can “friend” or “follow” their applications and important information in them. Follow chatter about key people, projects, opportunities, invoices, shipments, patients, warehouses, books, campaigns, ads, bills, credits or any other part of an application created on the Force.com platform. All of a sudden conversations about your business are intertwined with the data you need to take action.

Chatter Matters because:

  1. Previously isolated business data can now be a part of meaningful conversations about the business.
  2. Its another stunning proof point of the delta in the rate of innovation between the old world and what real cloud platforms can provide.
  3. When it becomes available every customer and prospect can skip the marketing and decide for themselves by trying it out.
Chatter will be generally available soon and for existing customers, it is a simple flip of the switch to try it. If you’re new to Force.com as a platform, sign up for Force.com Free edition, build an app and watch it become chatterized!

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