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Salesforce to offer social networking for companies

The cloud-computing specialist announces its Salesforce Chatter service to build social-networking services into its customers' business operations starting in 2010.

Salesforce Chatter gives a social networking angle to the company's Web-based business services.
Salesforce Chatter gives a social-networking angle to the company's Web-based business services.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Salesforce.com on Wednesday announced a social networking service called Salesforce Chatter for its customers' in-house operations, giving a corporate flavor to a technology that's largely been for personal use.

Salesforce Chatter lets employees set up profiles to connect with coworkers, issue status updates to say what they're up to, and subscribe to feeds from people--and from applications. Also for collaboration, it lets people join groups to share updates and content. And the service integrates with today's two hot social-networking services, Twitter and Facebook.

Chief Executive Marc Benioff announced the service in San Francisco at the company's Dreamforce conference, which he said drew 19,000 attendees. Salesforce.com is a high-profile proponent of the idea of Web-based services, broadly called cloud computing.

In a statement, he said the service is working for his own company internally: "Why do I know more about strangers on Facebook than my own employees? Now, through Salesforce Chatter, my business is tweeting me. My employees can use the models they love to get the collaboration they need."

IT consulting and analysis firm Gartner expects social networking to catch on widely in corporations, and some services such as LinkedIn have a business angle.

Salesforce Chatter is due to arrive in 2010, the company said. It will be included in some paid services, but the company also will sell a specific Chatter Edition for $50 per user per month that includes Salesforce Chatter, Salesforce Content, and Force.com services.