Taking Another Look at Chatter & Other Dreamforce Releases

Salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference ended just over a week ago, and aside from two new service-desk integrations on Force.com, the big news was about Salesforce Chatter. Yes, the “Facebook for enterprise” stole the show—even detracting from news about the specifics regarding Salesforce’s new Collaboration Cloud—as well as from other integrations and products announced at the convention. Now that the Chatter groundswell has subsided, we’d like to take some time to discuss the Collaboration Cloud, and a few of the more interesting product releases that were announced.

Some More Notes on Chatter:
During his keynote speech on the second day of Dreamforce, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff alluded to a fourth cloud (in addition to Service Cloud 2, Sales Cloud 2, and Custom Cloud 2), and as many speculated, Chatter is that fourth cloud. Given the subhead “Collaboration Cloud,” Chatter does very much resemble a “Facebook for enterprise,” but it is intended to be a “collaboration relationship management” tool.

Benioff clarified some of Chatter misconceptions about a week ago at TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUp, and also explained at a press conference last week that it’s a medium for data entry. Benioff says the biggest reason they lose customers is because customers “don’t put data in”—Chatter is expected to help them realize the wealth of data available. Salesforce executives prefer to think of it as a platform marrying the real-time benefits of social networking with CRM. This is a fair assessment, but from the looks of Chatter (which does look a lot like Facebook), it’s not hard to see how some trumpeted its social networking qualities above its collaboration attributes.

New Releases Announced at Dreamforce:
One of the cloud-computing announcements that slipped under the radar was that of the new Marketing Cloud community. The goal is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing operations—from marketing automation to analytics—through invitation-only discussions of strategies and best practices. Though the Marketing Cloud doesn’t involve a specific product release, it’s an exciting venture because of the big names in marketing software that support it, like Marketo, Jigsaw, Hoovers, and PivotLink.

Aprimo, a marketing software vendor revealed the on-demand version of their marketing management software, Aprimo Marketing Studio. Dreamforce has developed a reputation as the end-all cloud-computing event, so it isn’t surprising to see a number of on-demand releases during this type of conference. Aprimo’s VP Marketing stated that the shift of consumer media consumption from analog to digital was undeniable, and this SaaS offering will surely provide an easy and cost-effective way of expanding their product.

Another noteworthy announcement was Xobni’s Salesforce CRM extension: a Microsoft Outlook search and relationship plug-in that allows users to view Salesforce CRM data directly in their Outlook inbox. Xobni (the name is “inbox” backwards) is a San Francisco-based startup specializing in email organization solutions, and this new integration is estimated to save users 30 minutes per week.

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