CEO Marc Benioff Says Chatter Will Become Primary Interface For Salesforce, A Bold Yet Risky Move

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Chatter will become the primary interface for Salesforce.com, CEO Marc Benioff said today at the kickoff of a national tour for the company’s new “customer,” focus.

Benioff, speaking in Boston, provided his usual context for discussing Salesforce. He talked about the rise of mobile; how people are connecting and the rise of Twitter and Facebook. He then used that framing as a transition to say how Chatter, an activity stream platform, is becoming the primary interface into Salesforce. He called it a significant step that other companies will follow.

Earlier this week, Salesforce unveiled Chatter 8.0, which executives said is the next generation CRM.

Industry Analyst and Consultant Michael Krigsman attended the Boston event. He left curious about the news, which is both bold and risky, He points out that the activity stream interface has proven itself to be popular and easy to understand. Look at Twitter and look at Yammer. The activity stream is something people get. The question: “Will it play in the enterprise as a way to access and input corporate data?,” Krigsman asked. “So, this move, if they carry it forward, is a risky move. Any time you try to move a user base from one user interface to another it is always fraught with difficulty.”

Companies are integrating more data. Krigsman said it is unknown if the enterprise will find activity streams as a natural way to communicate with enterprise data and systems. If so, the industry will move there. On the other hand, if the migration takes longer then Saleforce is going to have to back fill.

A billion users use the news feed at Facebook and several hundred million people use the Twitter feed, Krigsman said. But no one is using it to such a deep extent in the enterprise.

Here’s the recording of Benioff’s talk.