Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff jokes about having 5,000 of his closest friends on Facebook. As result, he says, he knows more about strangers than his employees.
Wednesday, at the company's annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Salesforce.com introduced Salesforce Chatter, designed to let Salesforce customers bring Facebook- and Twitter-type capabilities to applications they use running on the Force.com cloud computing platform.
Using Facebook, "I know when my friends have gone to the movies, but I don't know when my VP of sales last visited my top customer," said Benioff on the Dreamforce stage. "I know when I've been tagged in a photo, but don't know when a key document has been updated."
Facebook and Twitter are "genius" he said, proving that "once again we've been eclipsed by the consumer."
Salesforce Chatter will let developers add pre-built profiles and employee status updates -- similar to the ones people set up in Facebook and Twitter -- to apps running on Force.com. Benioff called it a collaboration and social networking platform that companies might choose to use in place of Microsoft SharePoint, Outlook, and IBM Lotus Notes.
Benioff also invited Jason Goldman, Twitter's director of products and a Twitter board member on stage. "Twitter is for sharing and discovering content that's important to you in real time," Goldman said. Twitter is important to businesses, Goldman said, because "people are talking about your competitors on Twitter."
There's also a feed function in Chatter that will stream status updates from people and apps (for example, such as a deal closing in Salesforce CRM) into apps running on Force.com. Developers use APIs provided by Salesforce to push data from apps into the feeds.
Chatter will also let users filter relevant Twitter feeds into their applications. For example, a user can set up a Twitter search for a competitor and view those Tweets within an app.
Benioff said Chatter will be available early next year for free to customers with existing Salesforce.com subscriptions. A special edition for employees not using Salesforce CRM is priced at $50 per user per month.
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