Things Chatter Too

June 22, 2010 Jeff Douglas

by Mark Koenig and Jeff Douglas

In the six months since Chatter was announced at Dreamforce 2009 most of the questions we’ve received about Chatter have been along the lines of “how do I use Chatter to improve about improving collaboration at my company?” And there is no question that Chatter can do that. As one of the first to begin using Chatter, Appirio has experienced how it can improve collaboration across teams, expose information real-time and in context and help build our community. No small feat for a company with only one physical office location and many of our 200 team members working at client sites or from their home offices. In short, Chatter matters – we’ve experienced it.

Yet these particular benefits only derive from a one-dimensional view of what Chatter is and what Chatter can do, and may in fact be overlooking a greater potential source of true business value: that applications, information and content can Chatter. With Chatter General Availability only a few weeks away we thought we would expand on the idea that, as we like to say, “Things Chatter Too.”

Of course, users can follow People, Accounts or Opportunities in the Sales Cloud, or cases in the Service Cloud. ISVs can build applications (like Appirio’s PS Enterprise – one of the first applications to incorporate Chatter) that enable users to follow, discuss, make decisions about and act upon key information about their business.

PS Enterprise is all about managing customers, projects, people and financials and Chatter makes this collaboration, especially on projects, more compelling, real-time and transparent. Having parts of PS Enterprise send project Chatter (e.g., project actuals, assignments, change orders, team members). Here is a set of use cases from a recent Chatter Energizer Workshop identifying ways that Chatter can be used in applications built on Force.com. No doubt there are many many more:

  • People: New Employee created, Performance Review completed
  • Customers: Customer Created, Primary Contact changed
  • Financials: Invoice issued, Cash Received, Receivable passes terms date, Account Create
  • Projects: Resource extended on project, Milestone date changed, Milestone Reached, Project Health changed
  • Orders: Order shipped, order returned

But incorporating Chatter into Force.com is child’s play. The real fun comes when you start sending Chatter from applications outside of Force.com. Consider how the following could impact your company’s ability to deliver projects:

  • Your external HR system could send Chatter to your project whenever a project team member has scheduled time off
  • JIRA, Basecamp or some other project management tool could send daily Chatter on the status of the project, number of open tasks or upcoming milestone dates
  • Bugzilla could send Chatter to the project when critical bugs are resolved or new ones are submitted
  • Data integration services could send Chatter when integration jobs fail
  • GoToMeeting could send Chatter when a new meeting has been scheduled with the date, time and phone number

Because Chatter is a platform, companies can build their own applications to take advantage of Chatter’s ability to provide status updates in a familiar and easy to comprehend user interface. Take this great example of a custom-built Facilities Management application built on Force.com in which a building Chatters. Consider all the different sensors in a building and imagine them connected to updates that would be meaningful. The potential business benefits add up quickly: better use of resources such as conference rooms that Chatter that they are empty, improved energy usage when HVAC systems Chatter in real time about their workload, safer work environment when doors and windows Chatter that they are left unlocked, or when sensors indicate that lighting or air quality has fallen below acceptable levels.

We’d like to hear from you. What applications in your business are or should be Chattering? What are the business benefits that you can derive?

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