Salesforce.com adding 'social intelligence' features to Chatter

A Topics feature will arrive in June, with Expertise to follow

Salesforce.com continues to build out its Chatter social networking and collaboration software, with upcoming "social intelligence" capabilities that will allow users to find information through new Topics and Expertise categories.

Chatter is built into Salesforce.com's underlying Force.com technology platform, allowing users of its CRM (customer relationship management) and other software to use social collaboration tools within a business context.

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Salesforce.com already gave Chatter users the ability to create profiles, and to follow users and system objects, such as a particular record. Chatter also has a recommendation engine, provides users with an "influence" rating and has a Similar Files feature.

The Topics and Expertise functions will build on those capabilities, said Anna Rosenman, senior manager of product marketing.

It's not as easy as one might think to develop features such as Topics and Expertise, due to the constant change within companies due to hiring and attrition, job changes and shifting corporate priorities, according to Rosenman.

In a demonstration, Rosenman showed how the Topics function scanned the semantic construct as well as each word of a Chatter user's post, comparing the content with a master topic index and also allowing the user to add a new topic to the taxonomy on their own. The system also suggests topics to users. In addition, Salesforce.com has developed algorithms that "auto-curate" topic pages.

Salesforce.com is making a "huge, huge investment" in the Expertise feature, which will help users find people in their company with useful knowledge on a given topic, Rosenman said.

Topics is in a pilot phase, with general availability planned for June. Pricing will be announced at that time, according to a Salesforce.com spokeswoman. Expertise is in an earlier stage of development, and no release date was available.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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