The Revolution at Work (the industry reacts to Salesforce's moves)

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, has been using the bully pulpit over at Techcrunch to tell everyone that how we work together is about to radically change to be more like how we are able to share photos and fun things with each other over on Facebook. He’s right, but I’m not sure yet Salesforce is really going to be the one to lead us into this new world. He recently told me what Salesforce is trying to do with its entry into this space, Chatter, and I got a separate demo of Chatter’s newly shipped beta on video. You should watch both of those to get up to speed on what Salesforce is trying to do.

Other companies like Yammer, SocialText, Jive, SocialCast, and others have actually been doing the harder foundational work here of trying to convince us all to bring socially collaborative services into our workplaces. Yesterday I sat down with Yammer’s CEO, David Sacks, and talked about the industry and what Yammer is doing (Yammer was first to bring microblogging streams inside corporate firewalls and won TechCrunch 50 two years ago because of that).

I’ve been going around this enterprise world trying to understand it. I recently visited SocialCast and talked with CEO Tim Young about how he sees this revolution taking shape (and how he views Salesforce’s entry into it). In the interview you’ll hear Tim tout his advantages: that SocialCast is runable both on its servers, but can also be run on your own servers inside your firewall, or on your own infrastructure. Enterprises in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and banking will want to do this and won’t go with the Google or Salesforce model of “run it on our servers, they are safe, promise.”

I also talked last week with SocialText’s founder, Ross Mayfield. SocialText was the first company into this new “Enterprise 2.0″ space and they just shipped a new version that has a much broader range of applications than SocialCast or Salesforce has (spreadsheets and wikis, to name two) that are integrated deeply into its socially collaborative streams. Companies that want a complete set of applications should look at SocialText.

But, now, don’t miss what Google did last night (it turned on the Google Apps Marketplace). It’s big. But even more exciting and potentially revolutionary was the Gmail integrated contextual apps extensions. These let developers integrate all sorts of enterprise data right into Gmail. You can see where Google will go next, right? An enterprise version of Buzz with these widgets integrated into Buzz messages. Salesforce is actually ahead in integrating its partners’ data right into its feeds with Chatter, but it’s clear that window will close pretty quickly as Google keeps building its Enterprise Reef (my term for all the various projects that Google is stitching together). If you are interested in the enterprise space, I’d definitely watch the video presentations from last night. Salesforce has a few million users, Google has 25 million users, so you can see the relative strength of Google’s moves. Salesforce must articulate a strategy of how it will both partner with, and differentiate from, Google’s reef.

After the presentations last night I talked with executives from Zoho, Atlassian, and other companies. They agree with Benioff that a revolution at work is underway. They are seeing sizeable sales and adoption into enterprises as we all change how we work from a file-based and email-based system of working to a socially-collaborative feed way of working.

This is also why the most important panel at SXSW will be the Activity Streams panel. All of these companies need to adopt standards-based stream formats so that they can easily interoperate with each other and all the data sources that will need to shove data and reports into our work streams of the future. I’ll be there and will report more on Saturday as I understand more about the state of the art.

Are you feeling this revolution yet? Are you changing how you work with others? Or are you still only using email and Microsoft Sharepoint to collaborate with your coworkers? If you are, beware, your work life is about to change big time.

If you work at a company like Jive, SocialCast, SocialText, or Salesforce, what do you think? Are Marc Benioff’s moves important?

Comments

  1. Don't cross out Microsoft. SharePoint 2010 has a lot of social features built in and it is integrated directly into Outlook with much more rich information than the hacks that GMail has.

    The companies that already have SharePoint will not look to another social application to install and maintain.

  2. Did you see iKnowWare….. with iKnowMOBILE or even at&t.iKnowWare.com for really the first threaded enterprise collaboration and social messaging tool…. no limits all you need to know anytime anywhere….. iKnowWare!

  3. Hi Scoble, great post. I agree Google Apps Marketplace will be big. But I think we need more offline editions (running on Google Gears, or something like this) to be able to work on these great online apps, when my internet isn't working (happens quite often in Brazil…) Best wishes, Miguel

  4. Rob,

    Google Marketplace is quite a big move and will change how software will be consumed by businesses given that Google Apps is gaining traction. We launched on the Google Marketplace yesterday and have seen over 1500+ businesses adopt Socialwok. Socialwok is one of the top rated & reviewed app on Google Apps Marketplace http://socialwok.com/marketplace

    Ming
    CEO of Socialwok

  5. Thanks for this – really useful, you certainly get to talk to the right people. I work at the coal face end of this process – deploying E 2.0 in large multinationals. the question that comes up time and again is that if company x is already using for example Salesforce or SharePoint, then why bother with the smaller more focused social software vendors. My view is that they add a lot more value but it's a difficult argument when some seem 'free' or cost already paid for.

  6. I think you are seeing platform vendors (SalesForce, Microsoft SharePoint) pitch the power of their platforms while the smaller, single function apps (Yammer, SocialText) are defending the lead they built in enterprise collaboration. Some time this year enterprises will begin to move to the middle – apps with strong integration and security stories. If the platforms are the only apps that support broad workloads, including protecting IP, then they will win.

  7. Great point about ActivityStrea.ms. At Socialwok, we actually have been working hard at implementing activitystrea.ms as part of our own APIs, and I believe it's quite important in the future as status updates will become more and more decentralized.

    We believe that at some point it should be possible for companies to not only be able to use Social Media internally but also use it to interact with their customers as well just as easily. Standards such as activitystrea.ms are really important for this.

    As far as Salesforce Chatter is concerned, it remains to be seen as how Salesforce moves forward with it. While it's a very interesting product, it still is focused on Social collaboration towards Salesforce workflows. That may change as we move ahead.

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