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Dreamforce - Lots of Chatter

The first thing I have to say about Dreamforce is WHOA!

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The first thing I have to say about Dreamforce is WHOA! 19,000 people registered this year, from 60 countries. So many were in attendance that they had to have an overflow room for about 3,000 to watch Marc Benioff's keynote from afar.

Salesforce.com clearly wants to see everything in the cloud...their cloud.

What's not to like? A multi-tennant, pay-as-you-go, elastic platform that allows your company to expand or contract as needed is pretty compelling. And according to IDC, it's 5X faster and about half the cost to build apps in the cloud. IDC found that companies were able to reduce TCO by 54%. Even better, it's accessible for small to midsize to enterprise companies.

The theme that emerged was all about social media, collaboration and conversations in the enterprise. In fact, Marc Benioff said that CRM could be redefined as "Collaboration Relationship Management." Which didn't resonate with me. How can you take the customer out of the equation?

Benioff talked about how contact centers were disconnected from the conversation. Where companies are  invested in Oracle, SAP, Amdocs, Siebel and Microsoft, customers are over on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Community Sites.

Which brings us to the 4th cloud announcement of Chatter - "the magic of Facebook and Twitter brought to the enterprise." Essentially, Chatter is the integration of content, apps and people in a real-time model. (The other 3 clouds are Sales, Service and Custom)

Benioff's assertion is that through the personal use of social media, we know strangers better than we know our own employees or what's happening with our companies and our customers. That we're at a disadvantage because we don't know the status of deals and executives.  He asserts that we can transform how we work with the ability to "follow" content, apps and people, so we're always on the latest "page" of what's happening.

I have to say there are some compelling opportunities with Chatter, but I believe companies will need to be careful to create context and value when they start streaming social media into enterprise applications. I was waiting for clarity around how Chatter will help us do business faster and better, but it seemed a lot like adding more "chatter" to an already information intensive work environment.

However, at lunch I learned that Chatter access is controlled by roles so that should provide some control over who is deluged with what. But I'm still wanting more context around work flow.

The intention that conversations are captured into the knowledge base for reuse and enabling better access to the latest information (both within and from outside the company) is compelling and similar to the Tribal Knowledge process evangelized and empowered by SAVO Group. That idea has merit I can get behind.

But, I still wonder what will happen if an employee chooses to follow one exec and not another...hmm.

[As an aside, I could've lived without the wind-up chattering teeth.]

As a preview to my next post, I was impressed with Sales Cloud 2...

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More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.