Since Salesforce first released Chatter in 2009 we have seen many users trying to understand how their firm could use Chatter. During this time many companies were still trying to figure out social media and how their company could or should use it. So it just seemed that the adoption of Chatter was naturally taking a back seat as it had a close comparison to social media. Then the “Chatter Boom” came in 2012 and especially during Dreamforce 2012 when MC Hammer declared it was “Chatter Time”. In many keynote addresses, customer stories and breakout sessions Salesforce was setting a path that Chatter will be significant to Salesforce going forward. Then, in March 2013 Marc Benioff and Salesforce declared that Chatter will be the future of a user experience with Salesforce
Over the past year one of the biggest improvements we have seen to Chatter has been the Chatter mobile app and how it has become the entrance for Salesforce. In addition, one of the other advantages going on in the business world is that companies are moving forward aggressively with using software to implement collaboration and transparency into their culture. Therefore, Chatter is now in a perfect position to go to that next step and the release notes for Winter ’14 show some exciting things on the horizon with Chatter.
Is Mobile Chatter or is Chatter Mobile?
As we read through these release notes the common debate in our office was whether mobile is Chatter or Chatter is mobile. We are not exactly sure who is what or what is who but what seems obvious is Salesforce is incorporating Chatter and Mobile into one. In the most recent release of the Salesforce Chatter app came functionality that has essentially allowed users to use Chatter to access and edit records throughout Salesforce. Although the current Salesforce Chatter app has limitations with what a user can do with records the app clearly showcases that Salesforce is painting a path for where they are headed as it relates to the Chatter Mobile app being the main interface into Salesforce.
Features Which Will Improve Adoption of Chatter
A Salesforce implementation without an adoption (the process of getting users to use Salesforce) plan is as good as wasting your money. It doesn’t matter how many great features are added to Chatter. If those features don’t improve adoption then they run the risk of being useless. In Winter ’14 it seems that Salesforce is coming out with features that will begin to get the users to have to use Chatter which will in turn improve adoption of it. Here are a few of those features:
- Access Chatter Mobile from Email Notifications – Personally I am very excited about this feature. I am on my iPhone more than my laptop but when I get email notifications I have a tendency to wait until I get in front of a laptop to click the link. Now, while on your mobile device and you receive an email notification and the link will send you to the Chatter app.
- Post Records from the Group – From a Chatter Group a user, with publishing privileges, will be able to post records. It use to be that all records could only be created from the objects while Chatter was posting those updates in the Chatter feed. This is not only a big user experience improvement but I feel this is monumental in getting users to naturally adopting Chatter and using it for day-to-day functions.
- @ Mentions for Groups – Oftentimes, we struggle with posting an update in the appropriate group or we sometimes post the same update multiple times in separate groups to ensure the message is delivered. In Winter ’14 users are able to mention group names in their status which will attach the post to a group feed. Personally, because I am on my mobile very often it is time consuming to go into the Chatter mobile app, search the various groups, open it and then post to that group. I will really enjoy this feature because when I open Chatter Mobile I can make my post from the main status update page.
- Improved Chatter Profiles – Oftentimes, Chatter profiles get updated upon registration and never get seen again – frankly, because there isn’t a real reason too. Going forward, user profiles will have a lot more functionality in Winter ’14 including:
- Custom Content and Apps
- Adding and editing custom tabs and sub tabs on each user profile which will allow admins and users too add custom content within these tabs.
Pilots Are Teasing Us (Make Sure You Sign Up)
- Posting to Chatter from Email (In Pilot) – This is only available to those granted permission from Salesforce so make sure you contact them to get this special feature. In my opinion, this could be the best user experience enhancements to post updates to Chatter. No longer will we have to wait for the Chatter Mobile App to load. Since we are always in front of email this would make it much easier to post to Chatter. I wish this was a new feature coming with Winter ’14 release but since it is in Pilot I will be keeping a close eye on it hoping it becomes official in the near future.
- Initiate File Syncing (In Pilot) – This is a feature I have been wanting for over a year and I was thrilled to see it in the the release notes. Although it is in pilot it tells me there is promise to this coming soon. Essentially, this feature will allow users to sync their desktop files to Chatter. I am a big Dropbox user in addition to SpringCM. I love how I can work with files directly on my laptop and then have them synced directly with my Dropbox or SpringCM accounts. The nice thing about SpringCM is that it has a free app off the AppExchange that we utilize. Therefore, when we save a file on our desktop it does get saved to the opportunity or an account automatically. By Salesforce putting emphasis on file syncing emphasizes the desire of everything being in Salesforce. Because not only can I share files pertaining to an account or opportunity but also business critical documents, whitepapers to share with others, policies and procedures and so much more. This feature would be a big win for Chatter and Salesforce. I am not sure if the file syncing has version control capabilities but hopefully that would be on the horizon.
Hello Publisher Actions
As stated on p.43 of the release notes “Actions let users do more in Chatter, like create records and log calls directly in the feed.” With Winter ’14 comes a whole slew of publisher actions that users will be able to perform straight from Chatter. Here are a few of our favorites (note that there are more features in the release notes beyond this list of favorites):
- Smart actions from Chatter Mobile. Several of us at Galvin have a tendency to use multiple Salesforce mobile apps to do various actions because some work better than others. Of all the mobile apps our favorite is Chatter Mobile but it lacks the ability to do actions. With Winter ’14 users will be able to perform actions straight from the Chatter Mobile app.
- New Publisher Action Types – One of the most tedious tasks to do in Salesforce is record call notes. It can oftentimes be a multiple step process. Not anymore. Here are two new publisher types coming with Winter ’14 as stated in the release notes:
- Log a call actions let users record the details of phone calls or other customer interactions. These call logs are saved as completed tasks.
- Custom canvas actions let users access canvas apps directly in the publisher.You can use as a custom action any canvas app that uses Publisher as a location
- Rich Text Editor – Now users will be able to bold, underline, provide bullet points and much more with the rich text editor. Personally, I have been wanting this for several years.
- Chatter Thanks – This will be a Work.com feature that Salesforce will be bringing over to Chatter which will allow users to pass “Thank You” badges to colleagues. This will be a real nice value add to Chatter. I know that internally at Galvin many people use Chatter to thank each other and pass along kudos. So we will be anxious to utilize “Chatter Thanks” going forward.
- Implementation of Embed.ly for Previews – Currently, users can only post photos from their mobile device. By embedding Embed.ly Chatter will now work with applications such as vine.com, twitpic.com, twitter.com, hulu.com and much more are listed on p.56 of the release notes
During Dreamforce 2012 Chatter and mobile was front and center and Salesforce was essentially telling us that the world is mobile and users want better mobile user experiences with any business application. Salesforce is leading their mobile charge with Chatter by dramatically improving the experience, capabilities and functionality. We’ve heard for years that Chatter is “like a Twitter feed for your company” which seems to turn off many users and companies to adopting Chatter within their organization. Well, going forward, lack of Chatter adoption should not be an issue because after the Winter ’14 release we will have a whole new Salesforce and Chatter experience. Chatter is the future and we can’t wait!