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Salesforce opens new channels with Chatter

Denis Pombriant sees Salesforce.com's new screen sharing and instant messaging features as long-overdue changes to front office collaboration.

For a long time, I have advocated for more and better communication channels within the front office using social technologies.

Today, the art of communication is typing, sometimes with thumbs. While I am a big fan of what thumbs have meant to the evolution of our species, I also know that as we evolved, we developed the ability to speak and to communicate non-verbally. But to communicate non-verbally, one needs more channels than a keyboard.

For more on Chatter and CRM collaboration

Learn about Salesforce.com's plans for Chatter as a social CRM tool

Watch a video on how Salesforce.com customers are using Chatter

Today, Salesforce.com took a small step toward opening up the non-typing part of the human business communication spectrum by introducing Chatter Screensharing.

Chatter Screensharing moves us into the arena of exchanging images. The amount of information conveyed by images has far better impact than words alone.

Salesforce.com also unveiled Chatter Messenger, and admittedly, Chatter Messenger uses a typing interface while providing real-time communication, but it’s a start. While I’d always opt for a richer communication channel, business operates in a "just the facts, please" mode, so I won’t complain, especially when you consider that messages need to travel outward to a variety of devices.

Both products are currently focused on the internal operations of the enterprise, though I expect at some point they will be turned on the world for direct communication with customers. At that point I’d expect to see greater use of video images rather than stills.

The following announcements were made at Cloudforce 2012 London today:

As the world continues to knit itself together, real-time communication becomes increasingly important and the judicious use of these and other emerging technologies can do a lot to reduce the demand for travel. With fuel costs becoming increasingly expensive and with no capability of passing on these higher costs to customers, companies’ margins are being compressed.

So it makes sense for vendors to begin looking for ways to improve communications while also reducing travel costs. Chatter Messenger and Chatter Screensharing fit the bill.

I have said this before but I think it bears repeating. Salesforce’s blue ocean strategy, in which it constantly seeks out new application opportunities, is a smart approach to dealing with crowded markets. The company is inventing niches where it can lead and that competitors have not usually considered. They have little choice but to follow, albeit as also-rans. Today’s announcements are a proof point.

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