Salesforce Chatter To Add Instant Messaging and Screensharing

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The team behind Salesforce.com’s enterprise social networking app Chatter is making a big push for real-time communication with two new features — Chatter Messenger and Chatter Screensharing.

Chatter Product Marketing Director Dave King demonstrated Messenger and Screensharing for me earlier today and, well, they look like instant messaging and screensharing, just, y’know, in Chatter. King admits that there are other enterprise IM tools out there (there’s part the TechCrunch team uses HipChat, for example), but he says it’s the “in Chatter” part that’s really important.

After all, he says that most collaboration tools are “separate and siloed from each other.” When Salesforce acquired web conferencing company Dimdim in January 2011, it could’ve just launched these capabilities as a separate tool, but it would have “proliferated these islands of collaboration.”

Instead, King says the features are built into Chatter’s “core architecture.” So if you’re discussing a potential sale with someone in Chatter, you’ll be able to know whether they’re online, and if they are, you could start talking in real-time. You could also start a group chat. That gives the conversation more context than if you’d just reached out to them on an unconnected IM client. It also means you can tap into the connections and recommended connections that you receive in Chatter.

One downside of Chatter Messenger compared to, say, Gchat: It’s limited to people within your company. However, King points out that Chatter now includes spaces to interact with external customers, so it’s conceivable Salesforce would expand Messenger similarly.

Messenger has been in pilot mode since late 2011 (the company was talking about both Messenger and Screensharing in August.) It’s planned to become generally available for free as part of Chatter in June, with a pilot of Screensharing coming in the third quarter of this year.

King says there are now 150,000 active Chatter networks.