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September 22, 2010

Salesforce updates Chatter functionality

More Twitter, Facebook features added

By Steve Evans

Salesforce.com has updated its Chatter platform, introducing more Twitter and Facebook-style functionality and improved analytics.

Chatter 2, unveiled by CEO Marc Benioff during a speech at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, features status updates, profiles, photos and real-time feeds that are more commonly associated with consumer social networks. "Why isn’t all enterprise software like Facebook?" asked Benioff. "Real-time collaboration is how people use the Internet."

Although Chatter has only been on general release for three months, salesforce.com has decided the time is right for its first major update.

It has introduced Filters, which enables employees to filter their Chatter feed by group, people or records they are following. Also newly introduced is Topics, which lets users associate updates with other posts and comments on the same topic. This uses hashtags, an idea taken straight from Twitter, Benioff said.

It also now features Recommendations, which suggests users to follow or groups to join. Chatter recommends people based on criteria such as connections in common, number of followers, and management hierarchy. Similarly, public groups are recommended based on their popularity and relevance to that employee, the company said.

Salesforce.com has also introduced a desktop client, negating the need for users to access Chatter through a website.

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For bosses that are still unsure of the benefits of bringing a social networking into the business, a new Analytics element has been added. This lets admins create reports and dashboards on Chatter usage in their company across users as well as their followers, feeds, comments, groups, members, and group comments. This offers visibility in to how people are using Chatter, according to the firm.

Other new features include Files, which enables to store, update, and share documents, presentations, photos and media files; Report Chatter, a way for users to follow certain reports; and Search Chatter.

"The momentum behind Salesforce Chatter is astounding," said Benioff. "The excitement we see from the industry and our customers is proof that the feed is the new desktop."

Since its launch three months ago over 20,000 companies have installed Chatter, including Hitachi and Misys. Chatter is available free of charge for Salesforce CRM and Force.com subscribers, with availability expected during October this year.

The company recently announced a mobile version of Chatter.

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