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Where the Enterprise Meets the Social - Announcements at Dreamforce Provide Important Insight

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I intended to write this post on Friday, or at least over the weekend, but as luck would have it, I came back from Dreamforce with a nasty cold.  Being in a space with 30,000 or 40,000 other people can lead to that I guess.  Now I am recovered enough to realize that I brought back more than germs from the conference.  I also have a clearer understanding of the space where the enterprise meets the social network.  Favorite applications may come and go (see ya’ My Space), but the use of the internet to build and develop personal and business relationships will only continue to grow and expand in unexpected ways.  We might not be realizing it, but by using these tools we are creating a portrait of ourselves, not just as friends and employees, but also as consumers.  Salesforce.com’s major announcements are around leveraging the value of this information and increasing interaction.

There were three key announcements that caught my attention.  The first is the “Social Customer Profile.”  This feature will capture publically available information from social networks to give users a view into what things a customer “likes,” comments he or she has made about products and services, and even an idea of to whom he or she is connected.  This will give representatives a much broader picture of their prospects and customers, and allow them to engage in more meaningful conversation.  For those concerned with privacy, the protections offered by the social applications will remain in place.  For example, for a company to access my Facebook or Linked-In profile, I would have to “like” them first.  However, since all Twitter posts are unprotected, the company could see my Tweets without any action on my part.

While the Social Customer Profile gives users a window into the likes and dislikes of their contacts, “Chatter Customer Groups,” will offer a direct way to engage.  Chatter users will be able to invite people outside of their organization into their Chatter network to collaborate on projects and documents. Chatter users can invite customers and partners to secure groups, which will extend enterprise collaboration beyond the four walls of a company.

Finally, there is “Chatter Service.”  With Chatter Service, customers will be able to ask a question in a familiar social feed (like Facebook), and be answered in the form of a service agent, community response, or knowledge base article.   This announcement is well aligned with M5’s release of M5 Business SMS for Salesforce.  Both Salesforce and M5 believe that customers should be able to reach out for service in whatever way is most convenient and comfortable for them.

Even if you don’t use Salesforce.com, these announcements shed light on the importance of direct engagement with customers.  It seems that companies really want to interact with customers as much as possible, with the legitimate goal of servicing them better.  That’s what M5 has always been about, so we are thrilled to be on the forefront of this continued innovation.