As salesforce.com keeps adding more clouds to its SaaS development platform, some sales and marketing leaders are thinking that their annual user and developer conference doesn't have much to offer non-techies. But at Dreamforce 2010 last week in San Francisco, there were several big themes that marketers should be watching, whether or not you are a current salesforce customer. Here are a few that I made note of during the Analyst Summit:
Everything's a feed. Salesforce is making a big bet that the "feed" will become the new workplace for knowledge workers and is integrating Chatter (its group collaboration tool that it doesn't want you to think of as Facebook for the enterprise) into everything it does, including the sales and service apps (or clouds). A sales rep needs help on a deal? He starts a Chatter, and the whole company comes to his rescue. You need your expense report approved? Your manager sees it in her Chatter feed. Salesforce claims that there are 60,000 companies using Chatter that are seeing big productivity improvements, along with a 10%-15% decline in email. Perhaps the biggest news about Chatter is Chatter Free, a brilliant account penetration strategy that gets Chatter into the hands of the other 80% of employees in a client site who don't have salesforce seats. Salesforce thinks that the killer app for Chatter will be file sharing, just as the killer app for Facebook is photo sharing. And expect Chatter to be opened up beyond the user base of a single company to allow collaboration with prospects, customers, and partners. Start thinking now about how this will affect your customer experience, and let me know if you have plans to use it like this.
During a briefing earlier this week, Jama Software's CEO Eric Winquist showed us a slide separating the repository of a requirements management system from the collaboration that happens around requirements. I really liked the slide because it nailed an important point about both the requirements process and the tools that try to support it.
Ever had one of those "So what?" conversations about requirements? The one in which someone looks at your carefully crafted bit of product requirement genius and says, "So what am I supposed to do with it?" If not, you probably haven't been a PM, so you should stop reading now. If so, you've experienced first-hand that requirements are not just a big Lego box full of information, from which people will easily construct something meaningful. Or, to use a different metaphor, the requirements repository serves the function of a dictionary, describing the things that matter in the universe of technology that we can build. No matter how big, precise, current, or clear the individual bits of information may be, they don't automatically add up to something that someone could use.
The first generation requirements tools were, in essence, dictionaries. Like the Oxford English Dictionary, an important measure of its success was completeness. Since the human brain couldn't retain and organize this information effectively, and Microsoft Office proved to be incapable of handling information complexity, then teams embraced tools like Borland (now Micro Focus) Caliber and MKS Integrity.
For a number of years now, Forrester has used the following definition for Web 2.0:
A set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.
For many Content and Collaboration Professionals (C&C Pros), the first half of this definition looks very familiar. Providing knowledge worker with better access to information and co-workers along with communication tools has been the primary goal since collaboration tools began to seriously penetrate the enterprise 20 years ago.
Now the second half of the definition "in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings and social structures" is a bit different. This maps to some potentially broad and strategic organizational goals. This is at the core Enterprise Social Media. And Enterprise Social is here. Smart C&C Pros have already begun to take a leadership position in guiding their organization down this path that could be game changer, albeit one that is fraught with challenges.
Here's the challenge: As collaboration moves from being document-centric to more people-centric, the rules change. "Need to know" becomes "need to share". This can be scary, particularly for folks in HR that are concerned with privacy, legal folks that are thinking of intellectual capital, compliance, and the list goes on. Let's not even bring up the word WikiLeaks for heaven's sake. You get the picture.