The global water cooler

Published 01 March 2012 05:02, Updated 16 March 2012 11:48

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Instant messaging communication systems have been around since the early 1990s, however many organisations have struggled to use them effectively either due to security concerns, or because such technology is integrated into larger unified communication systems that require complex implementation and change management.

However, as productivity sinks under the sheer volume of email, some smart enterprise software companies have begun to integrate a message service into existing corporate software, with interesting results.

The Australian director of the financial information giant FTSE, Julie Andrews, has recently begun using Chatter, the instant communications systems integrated into cloud-based customer relationship management tool Salesforce.com.

According to Andrews, Chatter has been particularly useful because it has helped the company to integrate its many small offices dispersed throughout the world onto a single platform.

“People in satellite offices can feel disadvantaged in some large organisations but Chatter helps me be a squeaky wheel and get heard,” Andrews says.

She admits Chatter works in a similar way to social media, for instance a lot of interaction is between “groups within the organisation, however its integration with other Saleforce.com products, such as its “customer service cloud” and business data products – make it more suitable for businesses.

Still, Chatter has retained at least some of the spirit of social media, according to FTSE’s global head of sales, Imogen Hatcher.

“On email, your language tends to be quite formal and guarded because it feels like you’re making a big pronouncement,” Hatcher says.

“On Chatter you can have a real discussion and you can create groups to involve colleagues and generate contacts you’d never think of otherwise.”

Jeanne-Vida Douglas

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