Last week during TC Disrupt Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff referred to how the company was planning a Box-style competitor called Chatterbox. Today, the company has officially announced it. It is name-dropping Dropbox in its promotional description, calling it “The Dropbox for the Enterprise”, as part of its bigger push into cloud services and “consumerizing” enterprise IT.
The company is releasing the news in a raft of announcements to coincide with its Dreamforce conference. Other news includes a new identity management service, a new social marketing cloud (with Radian6 and Buddy Media integration) and performance management via Work.com. The
The Chatterbox service is first and foremost about secure file sharing across devices. It is designed to be integrated with other Salesforce products such as Chatter — is enterprise messaging service (read: Yammer compeitor) that is now already in use acros 170,000 networks at companies like Dell, Kelly Services and Virgin America. That’s also an instant potential customer base for the service.
Yesterday we noted that Chatter itself will also be getting some upgrades, including the ability to let users chatter with those in other networks and companies — something the company confirmed today.
Integrating file storage, sharing and transfer with communications is a key focus for those playing in the enterprise cloud services space, where workers want to talk about a work project and then share files related to that in real time, in the same space. Others like Huddle have been offering such services for a while, and Microsoft-owned Yammer is expected to also unveil similar collaboration tools in the coming months, we’ve heard. This announcement may bring the launch date for that up a bit closer.
For now it looks like Chatterbox will be limited to file collaboration only within a company — not with others. It will allow for mobile as well as desktop access, and will automatically post notices of files uploaded to Chatterbox directly into the Chatter social feed.
As background, Chatter is Salesforce’s Yammer equivalent, in other words a kind of “Facebook for enterprise.” Chatter combines social networking features like profiles, real-time feeds, trending topics, recommandations and influence measurement. It integrates into other Salesforce apps as well as those built by third parties for the Salesforce platform.
In addition to the ability to chatter with those outside your company’s network, Salesforce confirmed some other developments for Chatter. They include an instant messaging service, Chatter Messenger, and a screensharing option.
Salesforce says that Chatterbox, which will start to be available in 2013, came out of a demand among Saleforce’s existing customers for a Saleforce equivalent of Dropbox.
“Our customers have been asking us to create a file sharing service like Dropbox for the enterprise,” said Nasi Jazayeri, EVP and GM of Salesforce Chatter, salesforce.com, in a statement. “Now with Salesforce Chatterbox, employees will be able to securely access and share their files with the trust of Salesforce.”
Next up for integration? Perhaps voice services.
It will be interesting to see how and if Box and Dropbox respond to this move.
Salesforce is an enterprise cloud computing company that provides business software on a subscription basis. The company is best known for its on-demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. Salesforce was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, and went public in June 2004. Salesforce has been a pioneer in developing enterprise platforms through its innovative AppExchange directory of on-demand applications, and its Force.com “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) API for extending Salesforce.