Salesforce.com is still in the process of beta testing Chatter with customers and here is a nice review of it’s functionality by David Tiber at CIO. The artice is entitled Why Salesforce.com Chatter Matters.
Enter Chatter, Salesforce.com’s offering that applies social networking metaphors to the problem of collaboration. It has the immediacy and feel of a Facebook, but is organized around customers, opportunities, and solutions rather than “users.” When somebody at your company updates a relevant document or record in the system (such as a contract or a case), the people who are following (read: are subscribed to) that item are given immediate updates. The moment a problem has been solved, people with interest in related cases are notified. Chatter feeds can automatically generate notifications based on changes in up to 20 fields per object — so notifications can get pretty detailed.
Because Chatter is based on social networking UI principles, it’s pretty quick to use. As a user, you set up your profile and decide who you’re going to follow. Any record that you’re the owner of, you’re automatically following. While it may take managers a while to figure out how broadly they should be following, most users won’t be overwhelmed by the default settings.
Since Chatter is just being introduced, metrics on its effectiveness aren’t yet available. When you turn it on, though, you’ll immediately notice a number of changes to the user interface (particularly the home page). The real impact to look for in Chatter, though, will be the degree to which e-mail traffic decreases. The success of IM and social networking sites have significantly reduced the amount of quick-reply and “broadcast” e-mails among friends. We can hope that the same occurs in business e-mail, thanks to the kiosk model of information sharing that naturally results from fusing social networking with CRM. (Note, this benefit can only be achieved if you turn Chatter notification emails off — our definite recommendation!)