Salesforce's plan to get more companies to use Chatter
A common knock against enterprise social networking tools like Salesforce Chatter is that a lot of employees don't actually use them.
We talked to Salesforce's Doug Bewsher, who runs marketing for Chatter, and asked him whether adoption is a problem.
He declined to give any adoption statistics, saying only that there are 170,000 Chatter networks in use.
"We don't look at it like that. Chatter is built into the whole of of Salesforce, it's built across everything we do. The Sales Cloud wins because we've got Chatter communities. The Service Cloud wins because we've got Chatter communities. We often get wall to wall deployments, where an entire company standardizes on Chatter as their enterprise social network."
- Go through each business department, list all its business processes, and think about which ones can be helped by adding social tools.
- Use "quick wins" to drive early adoption: have the CEO use Chatter to deliver all hands meetings (as Marc Benioff does at Salesforce) and show how it can be used to share competitive intelligence.
- Progress to having employees use it to air grievances and form "affinity groups."
- Avoid so-called "fool's gold," or social networking just for its own sake.
- Pick executive sponsors and have them do several different kinds of posts, like answering questions or giving thanks
- Use charts to show exactly how adoption is happening. One retail chain even used gamification tactics by measuring Chatter engagement within each store, then pitting stores against one another.
All those things can drive initial adoption -- just like friends and family members drove the explosion in usage at Facebook and other consumer social networks.
But once you've convinced users to adopt an enterprise social network, it's critical to show them how it actually drives business value. Otherwise, they'll abandon the tool.
"Consumerization of IT happens only when you link it back to a real business process," said Bewsher. "I often go into companies and see three or four different tools people are using for socializing internally. What they're not seeing is business impact because it's not tied back to what they do as a business."
He believes Chatter will win in the end because it's integrated into other tools that salespeople, customer service reps, and marketers are already using for their day to day work.
In particular, Bewsher said, Chatter helps employees interact with structured data (like customer records) and unstructured data (like notes taken in a Word document) in a single tool -- and the new Chatterbox file-syncing feature is meant to aid that.
A lot of other companies are moving in a similar direction, giving employees new ways to collaborate on all types of data, regardless of where it originated or which system it was originally stored in. So does Salesforce think that Chatter will eventually put pressure on companies like Box?
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