At Dreamforce 2012 last week, Salesforce.com announced yet another new product in the Chatter portfolio—this time designed to tap the content sharing opportunity opened up by the likes of Dropbox. Salesforce.com Chatterbox—OK, so the name is not exactly imaginative or original—will provide an online file sharing platform allowing users to upload and share content, and will be tightly tied to the Chatter collaboration environment to both enable activity notifications to be surfaced in the Chatter feed, as well as enabling users to share Chatterbox content with colleagues via Chatter status update posts. It will also allow automated syncing with content on desktops, smartphones and tablets.
While the functionality is somewhat of a “me too”—the core file sharing capability is really no different to what Dropbox does for the consumer market, or what Box does for the business market—it is a no-brainer for Salesforce to add to the Chatter portfolio, and brings a much needed content-focused dimension to the product. If integrated well, it will help Salesforce.com to build out its enterprise collaboration story with Chatter, providing a platform for further content management capabilities, and offering greater opportunities for Chatter outside the sales and marketing departments of organisations.
It is only early days for Chatterbox at the moment—it won’t enter pilot phase until early 2013, nevermind full availability—but Salesforce.com will need to be thinking about integration and migration strategies already if it wants to have a serious stab at this market, as it is already highly contested, with new entrants all the time. Business users have now finally realised there is an alternative to the painful shared file server approach to content sharing and collaboration, but there are so many options available that very soon (if not already) organisations will find themselves with content everywhere. The successful vendors will be those that make it easy (and cheap) for companies to bring all their shared online content together, else we’re going to have one biiiiiig mess soon.