BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Collaboration software is often touted as the answer to companies' efficiency and communication woes.
But bringing Facebook-like tools to the enterprise can fall flat. Communicating with co-workers isn't the same as reconnecting with old friends online. And workers are often too busy to take the time to work with colleagues on an enterprise social networking platform. Using these tools is often perceived as getting in the way of "real" work.
As a result, adoption of collaboration platforms has been slow, to say the least. According to a 2014 survey by technology research firm Altimeter Group of 55 companies with 250 employees, only 36% of employees at organizations with collaboration platforms, such as Jive or SharePoint, used these tools frequently. That percentage of employees decreased to 25% for companies using enterprise social networks such as Salesforce Chatter, IBM Connections or Microsoft's Yammer.
For enterprise collaboration to work, workers need the platform to integrate with applications in which they already conduct their day-to-day tasks. Otherwise, a collaboration platform is just app No. 1 to open on a worker's laptop, creating app fatigue. Recently, SearchSalesforce talked with Mike Stone, senior vice president of marketing for Salesforce Community Cloud, to discuss developments in Salesforce collaboration in 2015, some of the challenges and opportunities surrounding enterprise communities, and future developments with Community Cloud.
SearchSalesforce: What improvements have you made to Community Cloud this year? How have these enhancements improved enterprise collaboration?
Mike Stone: We've made improvements to the Lightning Community Builder and Templates and to Lightning components. These features enable companies to build communities quickly. We literally had eWAY in Australia -- a rapidly growing payments company with 100 or so employees -- set up a self-service community, where customers can interact with one another and get questions answered.
That community was put up in four days, where in contrast they used to take weeks to set up [based on a community template]. In addition, eWAY reduced service calls by 50% by enabling customers to get questions answered themselves online and have frequently asked questions asked and answered on the community pages.
How does the widget capability enhance the community pages?
Mike StoneSVP of marketing, Salesforce Community Cloud
We're opening up the development of these widgets to ISV [independent software vendor] partners to develop their own components: We saw this kind of development when Demandware and CloudCraze brought the Buy button to Salesforce Community pages. We're also working with Get Satisfaction to embed a survey right on the page. SteelBrick [which Salesforce recently acquired] will drag and drop a CPQ [configure, price, quote] component right onto a page in a community. So now we can deliver specific functionalities like surveys, video, complex configuration tools, without our having to build it ourselves or go through a three-month implementation cycle.
How is Salesforce Community Cloud an alternative to competitors like Jive and SharePoint?
Our approach has been fundamentally different. We're combining a system of engagement [Community Cloud] with a system of record [the Salesforce CRM system]. The community is not designed and was never designed to just be a place of social collaboration like a Facebook for Business, where everyone's talking to one another and collaborating. There are wonderful things about social, but there can be an issue with using it in the workplace if social features get disconnected from business.
If you have a customer support site and people are discussing your products, but it's not tied into your agent's support console, that can actually create problems if customers think they are bringing up specific issues in the community and then they're not responded to [by the company]. We integrate business processes into the community by embedding customer records, accounts, customer service cases, marketing campaigns, files and data from any type of application -- that is, from our own CRM or from third parties.
So the community becomes that one place where people go to work.
We also can create rules. If someone uses the word broken, it can automatically generate a customer service case in the Service Cloud. And the service agent can directly respond back to that customer. Or they can respond to the customer and also can post that question and answer to the community, so a customer might get a question answered without having to submit a case. That enables self-service and can cut down on calls to the contact center.
How does Chatter work with the Community Cloud?
Chatter is the social heart of all the community pages. The customers decide which pages they want a social feed on and which they don't. It's a continuum: Some are highly social and based on user-generated content, and some are the classic portal model, where it's more about aggregating information without a lot of social activity. So customers can choose how much of that Chatter feed component they want to put into those pages.
How is social intelligence built into the Salesforce Community Cloud?
The community creates topics pages; they are automatically generated. If someone starts discussing any new topic -- a competitor, new product -- it auto-generates a new page and it collects all the posts in the community, recommended experts conversing on the topics, groups, files discussing this topic, and even other related topics that are high on the social graph.
You want high adoption and a high degree of engagement, but the risk is that you can get a Salvation Army store with piles of stuff everywhere and no one can find anything if it's not constantly curated and organized.
Intelligent pages direct users. If someone comes in to the community, we direct them to the topic that is closest to their query.
That intelligence is based on the social graph. It connects posts and finds relationships. It is the secret sauce of Chatter and Community Cloud. For those users coming into the community for the first time, it will direct them to a topic page for first time or to these posts, groups and documents to check out.
Learn more about the importance of social media engagement
An employee engagement strategy can ultimately benefit customers
Community Cloud was just one of the topics covered at Dreamforce 2015