During the super bowl last night, Salesforce.com threw down the advertising gauntlet by airing two ads for a variant of their Chatter enterprise collaboration tool. It is being rebranded and launched from a new site, Chatter.com as a freemium enterprise collaboration tool.
What exactly is Chatter.com?If you are unfamiliar with the premise of how Chatter works, watch the short video here:http://www.youtube.com/embed/NZAAr1gvqKE 
Chatter provides a platform for enabling your organization to collaborate internally. Run projects, post statuses, see what everyone is up to at the office, and share documents. It truly is “Facebook for the enterprise” in a completely secure, private environment. Instead of talking about someone’s picture next weekend, discuss the floor plan for your expo. 
The difference between CRM Chatter and Chatter.com. 
For those who are new to Salesforce, there are two flavors of Chatter. CRM Chatter is attached to the Salesforce.com CRM system. It allows for full internal collaboration, sharing documents, status feeds, AND it is integrated with an organization’s CRM or AMS data. It is extremely powerful since it combines your mission critical data with the ability to collaborate in one place.
Chatter.com is a distinct yet closely related offering. It is designed for organizations that do not have Salesforce.com and wish to use a free collaboration tool. It operates under the same premise as CRM Chatter but does not have access to the CRM or AMS data. However it is still extremely powerful and FREE. It maintains access to collaboration features, group discussions and documents as well.
What can my association do with this technology?Use Chatter.com as a free private social network.  Currently Chatter.com is restricted to one email domain. However, if your association has the ability to run an email forwarding service, it is possible to invite people from anywhere into a Chatter org. 

  • Create public or private groups for your committees.
  • Create groups for events.
  • Create groups by interest.
  • Allow members to collaborate in a Facebook like fashion.
  • Share documents with members, committees.
  • Share all event materials with everyone, give a safe, private place for staff and members to interact.

Use Chatter.com as an internal collaboration tool. This is the classic use case that it was designed for. The usefulness of the tool grows as organization size increases or has multiple staff located outside the office.

  • Create departmental groups
  • Share key organizational documents
  • Let everyone know what you’re working on
  • Call in sick via Chatter
  • Post minutes from your staff meetings
  • Discuss issues cross departmentally easily

Use Salesforce.com to house your AMS and CRM Chatter on top of it. We have been involved with some groups that are moving their AMS into Salesforce.com. From there, they are getting access to the full Salesforce.com CRM Suite, with Chatter on top of that. The power of this option overshadows just using Chatter.com internally because an organization now gets everything Chatter.com gets, and in addition they now have the ability to do this collabroration ON THEIR AMS DATA. Collaboration is no longer on abstract things. You can now have a conversation DIRECTLY ON A MEMBER’S RECORD. A few possible uses:

  • Attach all meeting contracts, floor plans (with version control of course) to the meeting setup record. Log conversations on the meeting, action items and completed tasks.
  • Have a conversation on Joe Smith’s record about his membership billing issue.
  • Share reports across the organization
  • Any staff can “like” any event in the system with new Chatter features.
  • Use Chatter to collaborate on organizational content. Use Salesforce.com content delivery engine to distribute content to members and track its viewing.
  • Integrate Chatter with Google News. When news occurs for records in the system, Google News will post chatter events.
  • Integrate Salesforce.com with Twitter and over 1000 other possible applications from Appexchange.com
  • Integrate Salesforce.com with your website. Perform single sign on from your AMS
  • Create Chatter triggers to enable chatter commands to push AMS actions. Type “%Renew” on a member’s record to tell the system to send them a dues renewal.
  • “Follow” key members and records. Configure Salesforce to Chatter to you when certain conditions are met (i.e. your biggest member’s dues are not paid)

Wow, this is a lot to take in, now what?What is happening with this technology is big. Salesforce is establishing themselves as one of the global players in the social media space, particularly on the enterprise side. It’s still a rapidly evolving application, with many, many licensing models and options. For organizations considering some type of internal collaboration environment, Chatter.com is a great offering. For organizations looking to create a free, private social network for its members, Chatter.com may facilitate this. Looking to create a limited environment for your committees? Maybe the free Salesforce.com CRM version would be a good fit with CRM Chatter. Looking to put your AMS data to the cloud, finances to the cloud, web hosting to the cloud? Salesforce.com CRM with association specific customizations and CRM Chatter may be a great solution. 
What do you think? Could Chatter.com be something your Association may use? Please post a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!

Garry

Garry Polmateer, CAE
Solutions Consultant
Certified Salesforce Administrator & Consultant
419-9NI-MBLE
Follow me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/DarthGarry