Salesforce.com is taking cues from social networks by enabling any enterprise to create private social communities with the Communities feature.
Communities lets companies connect with customers and partners by combining social networking features such as profiles, real-time feeds, trending topics, recommendations and influence measurement, as well as business information and processes in Salesforce.
ProQuest commercial director and Salesforce.com partner, Andy Pattinson, sees Communities as being a boon in engaging in a very specific way with ones community, whether it is B2C customers, a partner in a B2B arrangement, or a supplier.
“As far as companies are concerned, the ability to have focused engagement with them using the Chatter engine with Communities is very powerful,” he said.
“So can have very specific and niche and tailored conversations in a very contextual way.”
While the official release of Communities is set for the second half of 2013, the feature is currently making rounds in beta among selected Salesforce.com partners.
“GE Capital has already deployed more than 50 custom communities with Salesforce Communities, which has been using it to strengthen partnerships with companies,” Pattinson said.
Pattinson sees the feature appealing to any organisation and is not limited to enterprises.
“Any organisation that is looking to develop the engagement with parties they are involved or have relationships with,” he said.
“There is no any particular niche vertical for that, as it is for anyone who is looking to develop their engagement with their community.”
Pattinson says that this approach is consistent with Salesforce.com’s model across small, medium and enterprise clients, meaning that Communities is a good fit for any of those markets, regardless of size.
“It enables SMBs with access to enterprise grade tools,” he said.
“Whether it is an abstract concept more applicable for the enterprise, I don’t think it holds true.”
Regardless of organisation size, Pattinson says that people want to engage with their customers, suppliers and partners, and Communities is a tool enables that should help speed up business in just the same way Chatter speeds up internal communication.
“Communities has the ability to do that directly with the people you are working with,” he said.