Chatter 2 Ready for Primetime

Cloud Computing delivers features, functionality, and innovation at a pace that on-premise software cannot match. We take a look at how Salesforce.com's Chatter has evolved into Chatter 2 in only 6 months since its initial beta release.
Chatter 2 Ready for Primetime

All of the features coming in the Winter '11 release of Chatter 2

Chatter 2 has already hit the primetime in Winter '11 Salesforce.com orgs and it's a major upgrade to a product that was only officially launched out of beta 3 months ago. The power of Cloud Computing is that upgrades and new features are seamless and are pushed out by the service provider, in this case Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com has spent a considerable amount of time and resources upgrading and enhancing Chatter to the point that it is already deemed Chatter 2.

Things I like:


Having used the new features for a few days now I can already see what I am going to like about Chatter 2. The Chatter Central tab is a great new enhancement that makes Chatter really feel like it's not just tacked on to every page in the system, rather it now has a "home". The Chatter tab feels like the homepage of Facebook - a familiar experience for most users and is certainly where Salesforce is looking to go.

Suggestions are a fantastic enhancement. Our org is not so large that I don't know everyone in it but a case where this works wonderfully is within the Dreamforce Portal where there are literally thousands of people that I don't know - suggestions make it easy for me to make connections to random people and groups that I otherwise wouldn't have found. Being able to find these disparate people leads to a greater awareness of what is going on within the organization.

Chatter Search and Chatter Topics make it really simple to tag or #Hashtag specific key topics and can in essence link together data that would otherwise remain in silos.

Things I'm not so sure about:


Analytics on Chatter have been released but are pretty bare bones for now - the only things you can report on are users and their followers OR users and their posts. It would be nice to be able to report on records with Chatter and see the people who are following a record and the Chatter that is on the record.

Chatter on Activities, Dashboards, and Reports feel a little bit like add-ons that are unecessary. Dashboards and Reports are constantly changing so the Chatter is likely to get very stale in a hurry on those records. Activities is promising BUT it's missing a feature that would make it killer - an Event should Chatter every time an attendee accepts or declines the Event - vote for this on the IdeaExchage.

Chatter Files is a nice idea but really it just confuses things - there are so many places now to go and look for documents within the system. You have Files, Workgroups, Content, Documents, and Notes & Attachments. The good thing is that any File attached to a Chatter feed gets centralized in the Files tab and gets attached to the Notes & Attachments of that particular record, the bad thing is that Content is all over the place and is not intuitive for end-users.

Innovation not Infrastructure:


Chatter 2 has evolved from about 6 months of end-user testing and usage of the Chatter Collaboration Cloud. Such innovation and speed could only be delivered by a Cloud Computing platform. An entire product lifecycle in less then a year is incredible, especially one that is being adopted and used as widely as Chatter. The kicker - as a customer all you have to do is turn it on - no additional hardware or software and unlike some recent Salesforce.com products, no additional licensing costs.

There are still some things that I wish Chatter did but seeing that Salesforce.com is able to innovate at such a rapid pace I am sure they are coming - the thing I am most looking forward to is making Chatter truly real-time. Currently you still have to refresh the page in order to see new Chatter - soon enough that should be more like Twitter where it's a real-time flow of information.  

There are far more enhancements coming down the pike and if you want to discuss them with me feel free to tweet me at twitter.com/justedelstein.
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