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Salesforce Talks Up Twitter-Like Chatter 2

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Posted September 21, 2010 By David Needle     Feedback

The new version of Salesforce's real-time collaboration tool adds a number of features, including filters, analytics and more options for finding relevant content.

Salesforce unveiled a new version of its Chatter collaboration tool at Oracle OpenWorld today. Chatter 2 adds a number of new features to the real-time social media tool that Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) debuted in June.

For example, Chatter Filters is designed to give users easier access to relevant posts by filtering feeds by groups, people and records they follow.

Like Twitter, another new feature called Chatter Topics lets users associate their updates, other posts and comments using a hashtag (#). Users can then use the hashtag in Chatter Search to find updates and comments on any Chatter topic.

Chatter Analytics lets admins create reports and dashboards on Chatter usage by users and their followers, feeds, comments, groups, members and group comments. Salesforce said the analytics feature gives visibility into major Chatter contributors and how employees are using the service.

Earlier this month, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said he uses Chatter to help identify employees who are doing the best job of solving problems. As part of that process, he said Chatter has led to a change in his company's compensation system.

Other new features include Report Chatter, which lets users follow specific reports and get updates within their feed. Activity Chatter lets users track the progress of important tasks and get notifications on calendar and meeting updates. Salesforce said Activity Chatter can also reduce emails and phone calls because it lets users collaborate with colleagues on customer calls and meeting agendas right on the task or event record.

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Of course, it's not always practical for busy and often mobile employees to track every feed and conversation online no matter how targeted they may be. As a kind of catch-up feature, Chatter E-mail Digest gives users the option of receiving a daily or weekly Chatter email digest of the latest posts from their feed or group feeds.

Analyst Denis Pombriant said Chatter 2 is a logical extension of the original version because it adds productivity features.

"Everyone who uses Chatter discovers that a tool like this can throw off a lot of data and they need analytics to filter through to what's most important to them," Pombriant, analyst with Beagle Research, told

Benioff has called Chatter a kind of Facebook for the enterprise and Pombriant said the distinction from the popular consumer service is important. "There are aspects of Twitter and Facebook, but the universe Chatter plays in is internal to a company and that puts it in a different category," he said. "You'd be hard pressed to make Twitter or Facebook provide the same kind of business value that Chatter is tuned for."

Another feature of note in the new release is Chatter Desktop. Desktop was built using Adobe's Air technology that lets users run Web applications on the desktop. Chatter Desktop lets users post updates, comments, files and links without opening a Web browser. The Desktop feature also displays pop-up alerts at the bottom of the computer screen giving users instant notification of important updates.

Salesforce said Chatter 2 will be available at no additional charge for Salesforce CRM and subscribers and is slated for release next month. The Salesforce CRM system costs $50 per month, per user.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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