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Salesforce.com Spreads Chatter to Mobile Devices

Salesforce.com Spreads Chatter to Mobile Devices

Salesforce.com is giving its Chatter business networking app some legs, with versions tailored for a variety of mobile devices set to come out later this year and early in 2011. Chatter acts a lot like Facebook, but its purpose is to facilitate collaboration through feeds that keep employees up to date on projects, prospects and accounts.

By Erika Morphy
09/08/10 1:30 PM PT

Salesforce.com has announced it is making its social tool Chatter available for mobile devices within the next several months.

Chatter Mobile offers much of the same functionality that's available with the desktop version of Chatter, which was generally released in June.

Chatter is a real-time social collaboration application and platform for the enterprise, allowing employees to create profiles, and send feeds and status updates about projects, account and clients. When it was made generally available, Chatter launched with some 50 apps in AppExchange, including such offerings as ServiceMax Suite and ServiceMax Chatter Volume, which track field service activities; FinancialForce Accounting and Chatterbox, an accounting solution; and Cloud Apps Carbon '10, which helps companies identify ways to reduce operating costs.

Chatter Mobile apps for BlackBerry devices, iPads, iPhones and the new iPod touch are scheduled to become available in late 2010. Chatter Mobile for Android devices is scheduled for release in the first half of 2011.

Chatter Mobile users will be able to monitor posts from colleagues and alerts from apps, as well as post status updates and comment on relevant conversations.

New Look

The Chatter Mobile interface has a different look and feel, because it was built natively for mobile device platforms, Sean Whiteley, vice president of products and marketing at Salesforce.com Chatter, told CRM Buyer.

For example, a finger-spreading gesture can be used to preview a sales presentation on the iPad, he said. "You can also traverse someone's social graph right from the feed in that way."

salesforce.com chatter mobile iPad
View of Chatter Mobile Feed on an iPad

salesforce.com chatter mobile iPad
Chatter Mobile for the iPad incorporates PinchSpread functionality.
Customization is also very easy. "You can configure who or what information you want to follow any way you please," noted Whiteley. "Items on your dashboard, opportunities -- all of these objects have a feed."

These differences in user interaction, in general, are driving more of the company's customers to access Salesforce.com's functionality via their mobile devices, he said.

Flocking to Mobile

There is something to this theory of mobile apps driving adoption, says Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wettemann.

"We have seen that more ourselves -- as mobile devices and the accompanying CRM apps become easier to use, people prefer them," she told CRM Buyer.

That's due to a couple of factors -- the ubiquity of the devices, and the ability to use them in the field -- that is, at client sites or on the road.

"That means more time spent with the customer," said Wettemann.

Chatter is a particularly apt example. "It is a push model, so rather than forcing people to look for the information they want -- which can be cumbersome even with a smart device -- it alerts users when new information is available," Wettemann said. "I don't have to ask how is my account doing -- I get the information when there is activity."

It is particularly useful for managers, she pointed out, who are notified when an action is needed.

It is useful for roving sales reps visiting clients with whom they hope to expand a relationship, observed Wettemann, because the rep can follow all relevant posts to that client -- including possible service issues. "There is nothing worse for a sales rep than to walk into a sales call and be facing a client that is having a service issue which the rep knows nothing about."

It is this kind of functionality that people are looking for in the collaboration space, THINKstrategies Managing Director Jeff Kaplan told CRM Buyer.

"I think we can expect to see more of these apps in the CRM space as Chatter takes off on mobile," he predicted.


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