Nov 20, 2009

RealTime CrunchUp: Salesforce’s Benioff Talks Social Enterprise Strategy, Chatter And More




Salesforce.com co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff is sitting down with TechCrunch IT editor Steve Gillmor and TechCrunch co-editor Erick Schonfeld to discuss the socialization of the enterprise. Benioff recently unveiled his own social strategy for Salesforce: Chatter. Debuted at the company's Dreamforce event, Chatter allows any company to collaborate in real time with a secure, private social network for their business. Content, applications and people will now have profiles, feeds and groups within the platform, enabling them to be connected via a unified stream. In addition, developers will now be able to tap into Chatter's API to build social enterprise apps off of platform. While Chatter looks and feels like a social network for the enterprise, Benioff is quick to nix that moniker, preferring to call the platform a collaboration tool.

Below find my notes (paraphrased):



Salesforce.com co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff is sitting down with TechCrunch IT editor Steve Gillmor and TechCrunch co-editor Erick Schonfeld to discuss the socialization of the enterprise. Benioff recently unveiled his own social strategy for Salesforce: Chatter. Debuted at the company’s Dreamforce event, Chatter allows any company to collaborate in real time with a secure, private social network for their business. Content, applications and people will now have profiles, feeds and groups within the platform, enabling them to be connected via a unified stream. In addition, developers will now be able to tap into Chatter’s API to build social enterprise apps off of platform. While Chatter looks and feels like a social network for the enterprise, Benioff is quick to nix that moniker, preferring to call the platform a collaboration tool.


Below find my notes (paraphrased):


ES: We’re here with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, he’s had a few announcements the past couple days.


MB: We’ve had 19,000 people for our Dreamforce convention. We had a successful announcement for a new product called Chatter. It takes this thing Steve Gillmor calls real-time and combines it with the enterprise. It brings in the power of real enterprise computing. I’ve brought in Steve Fisher, Chatter’s product lead from Salesforce and I’d like to do a overview of Chatter.


—-video of Chatter—-


MB: Steve and I started a software company together, he taught computer science at Stanford and worked at Apple.


SF: The core idea behind Chatter is bringing real-time nature to enterprise, where its sorely needed. This provides the context for information in the stream. It not only delivers a social application but also a platform for people to innovate off of. Chatter takes a database object and turns it into a person and profile.


MB: Chatter is a social extension to the Force.com platform.


SF: Any applications built on Force.com now had feeds associated with it. When you are interested in an application, you can see the feed for information. An application can talk to a person, and people can comment on this.


MB: As key tasks and activities happen in applications, all are enabled with all features to access Chatter.


ES: Chatter will be the new homepage?


MB: yes, it will be integrated into the new homepage along with a dashboard of reports and approvals, workflow, tasks and calendar. You’ll also be able to see filters as well. Chatter will let you see updates from people, files, applications, HR, and will integrated other Feeds (Dow Jones, Thompson Reuters). A standard object, like a possible sale or opportunity, is alive. You can comment on that and also builds in relationships with other people on the deal.


Because it’s built on Force.com, security models are high-tech. The idea behind realtime enterprise is to leverage what we are learning from consumer world, ie what’s in Facebook and Twitter, and then take the data of what’s in the enterprise and make it relevant.


You can also group users, and those groups can have a profile or wall and set up Twitter feeds to track.


SG: A couple of years ago, I’d get strange Facebook messages late night from you. You really use this stuff. Somehow you’ve taken something that you are fascinated with and translated it into a product.


MB: I have 5,000 friends on Facebook. But why do I know more about these strangers than I do my own employees. I am smarter about people I don’t know about than people who are my most important employees.


Robert Scoble: On that point, Salesforce is only used by a small # of people inside corporations. Why aren’t you ripping this out and make this more low cost?


MB: We are. All Salesforce users can use thus for free. We also have a low cost separate product. And we will be rolling out a free version. We are working on figuring out what that is.


ES: What is that going to called, Chatter Lite? This is a new type of Stream?


MB: This is a deep integration of the fundamental transactions. We are exposing fundamental audit trails. And we provide linkage between content and apps and the people; it adds contextual information for users. It’s adding metadeta.


ES: Enterprise social networks have always been about getting real-time social data to users.


MB: I feel that I’m a slave to email, to Outlook. But my content management system is its own island of data. Twitter and Facebook has shown that we can provide more context and meaning to this information. Because there is an API that you can plug into, if you are a data provider, you can plug into this. I love software and I love technology. Chatter gives you metadeta and integrated data. Salesforce is becoming a type of distribution network, not just an application provider, so any app can plug into us to provide content to Salesforce users. We can bring content to people via Chatter.


MB: We’re not that far into it. We’re looking for feedback. We have a general strategy. We think this a unique strategy. We need some new things besides Mircosoft Sharepoint. This is our fourth cloud.


ES: Do you think there’s going to more User interaction with this application?


MB: We are looking to the consumer world to the things that have been popularized like feeds, profiles and then adds computer technology, to create this for the enterprise. We’re trying to implement real-time on our platform. We’re passionate about SaaS, but collaboration is the next thing. And why should this only be on the consumer side. Why can’t a follow my PowerPoint presentation.


—-Q&A—-


Alex Williams: What about moving contact information in Facebook and connecting this to Chatter?


MB: You can integrate it as a feed. We are a metadata driven server.


MB: I’m not bashing Microsoft, I’m just explaining why its a monopoly. I paid to upgrade to Windows 7 and I got no new features. It’s insane that we tolerate this.


Question: Do you want to buy Zoho?


MB: there are so many companies out there, we have 4000 employees there are lots of conversations. We’ve only looked to buy a few companies over the last ten years. I’m not that familiar with Zoho. It’s very hard for us to bring a company in. Our architecture is very sophisticated. I’m not saying that we aren’t going to make acquisitions.


ES: the fact that you have so many APIs means that you don’t have to make acquisitions?


MB: We’ve completely integrated with Google Apps, Gmail, and more. When you update your Google spreadsheet, it will show up in your feed. We need to have deep relationships with Google, and other companies.


SG: Congratulations! You are two years ahead of your competition.


MB: Chatter is deeply integrated into our core. We have completely reworked our architecture to become more real-time. I want to thank Steve Gillmor for this.


Photo Credit/Flickr:TheKenYeung


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