There’s enough chatter about Chatter these days.
In the future, you can expect to see Chatter morphing in features. A good example is the acquisition of DimDim with its teleconferencing and desktop sharing features.
Let’s face it, the way we do business is different than 5 years ago, and enterprise software will certainly be different 5 years from now. It just hasn’t been invented yet.
But with CRM, Social Media and Content Collaboration all on the same page (or should I say, on the same mobile device?), we can now be more effective and productive, which means better value from your employees.
I’ll give a brief overview of some of the feature I like about Chatter, and one Christmas Wish List that could potentially add more sales to a mid-sized or large company. Remember, CRM is all about about knowing thy customer and every bit of personal details can turn a cold call into a warm lead.
On 6 features, I would give Chatter a 5 out of 6, because there is one feature I think they should or could expand on. Luckily, there’s an add-on that comes to the rescue. (I am purposely leaving out teleconferencing and the possible DimDim features, because we know it’s coming)
- Know your Strengths
Don’t you love it when you can ask one question, and get multiple feedback from trusted sources? That’s the beauty of Facebook, LinkedIn, and of course Chatter. For example, let’s say you are going to San Diego for the weekend and wanted a restaurant recommendation? Or you wanted to review the slide deck of an existing customer for a prospect in the same industry? By tapping into your trusted sources (in this case, your employees) you will have reliable and up to date information.
- Know your Weaknesses
With every compliment, you must be able to take criticism. You can participate in a lively Facebook or Chatter debate about weaknesses in a competitor (but be nice!) or even critique your own products. You can even go as far as why you hate the New York Yankees in October, but that should be saved for Facebook.
- Real Time
Gone are the days of sending out an email to 20 people with another 20 people CC’ed (I always hated those emails, especially if they weren’t relevant). Unless you have a threaded email interface (like Gmail’s conversation mode), your results aren’t real time. By glancing at a feed, you can scan quickly to see if the information is relevant to your needs, and jump in if you have something to add of value.
- Everyone is Equal
You have to love some corporate cultures where the CEO and Maintenance guy are all wearing the same uniform, even if it’s a white lab coat. Or an open space environment where everyone has a cubicle. No secrets here. By creating a level playing field, and open door policy, everyone can participate and join in the discussion. I used to work in a startup where once a month you had a paid lunch as long as the other person was not in your department, or someone you knew. This way you get to know your whole company.
- Content Collaboration
I’ve advocated that Chatter could be the death of Microsoft SharePoint (and I’ve had enough SharePoint implementation expertise to make this statement). For every dollar you spend on SharePoint license, you have to spend up to 10 times more to support it. Today, we are seeing a trend in business with an increase in collaboration, and decrease in emails. But let’s not forget human phone calls, SMS, emails, Instant messaging, and social media, as they all have their place in the workforce.
- Six Degrees of Separation with CRM
Everyone is talking Social Media and Social CRM (SCRM) but we’re missing the bigger point of “social”.
It’s not about pushing feeds or data. It’s who you know. Or who you didn’t know who knows who.
Of course, Chatter is integrated with Salesforce’s flagship CRM product. But one missing element in my opinion is a true relational CRM. True relational business intelligence. In Facebook or LinkedIn, you can see your friend’s friends, if they allow access. Imagine if you had the power to tap into your colleagues personal contact list. (In this example, I’m referring to companies using Exchange and Outlook)
Let’s imagine you have a potential opportunity with Company XYZ. But your CRM turns up empty because it’s a cold call.
With Chatter, you could start a feed and ask, "Hey, anyone have a contact at Company XYZ?”. Wouldn’t it be nice if this could be automated?
In the world of people, it’s the hidden gems that go missing. What if your employee actually has a personal friend from Company XYZ that he plays tennis with every week?
BranchIT has those capabilities, both as a standalone product as well as an add-on for Chatter. But you’ll need a fairly substantial employee number to untap its full potential. Branchit for Chatter was the winner of the 2010 Salesforce AppQuest Competition and also won the AppExchange App of the Week for the week of Jan 7, 2011.
BranchIt’s initial strengths are for Sales and Marketing but I can see this being used for HR and Recruiting. The familiarity is similar to LinkedIn with the number of degrees of separation, but LinkedIn is lacking on the strength, relevance or influence of that connection. Anybody can connect to Marc Benioff or Bill Gates on Facebook or LinkedIn, but how many emails or phone calls have you actually corresponded on a monthly basis?
Speaking of which, another problem with traditional CRM is a large number of contacts never make it to the CRM. Over 80%. There are too many methods of communication such as phone calls, SMS, emails, Instant messaging, and social media that don’t get entered in the CRM. Thus there is a need for CRM to go beyond the tradition relationships, either as a feature or add-on for Chatter.
With the law of six degrees of separation, cold calls may be a thing of the past. Just looking at my LinkedIn stats, I have 261 connections 1st hand, 147,000 2nd degrees, and almost 7 million 3 degrees away. That’s a lot of people. By truly knowing who knows who, that will be the ultimate CRM model. Because it’s really is a small world after all.