“We want to create a new kind of car, almost like an iPhone on wheels.” The innovative vision of Shigeki Tomoyama, Managing Officer at Toyota, is captivating the hearts and minds of people all over the world. Imagine cars entering the very human realm of social networking, tweeting their own status updates. Or anticipating your actions so they can provide the service information that you need. This is the future for people and their cars, and it is on the verge of becoming a reality. Since 1996, Toyota has firmly believed that cars are more than just products; they should connect with Toyota customers. This was visionary—but it was more than just a dream. Toyota is already building connections with customers into the 8 million cars it manufactures each year. The vision came to life in the form of a single platform, Toyota Friend, which is based on Salesforce Chatter. A private social networking service for Toyota owners, it enables people to interact with their cars, dealerships, and Toyota itself. In addition to prompting you to recharge whenever your EV or PHEV battery is running low, it enables your car to “tweet” service information to you. Very much like a good friend, in fact. You can also use this tool to communicate with friends and family by connecting to public social networks, like Facebook or Twitter.
Toyota also uses Chatter to enable hundreds of thousands of staff across the world to interact with each other at any hour of the day—revolutionising the way they work. Employees can post questions and get advice and answers from coworkers based in 170 countries around the world. Rather than each individual office working on their own to solve problems and develop documentation, Chatter allows everything to be shared. “People have only 24 hours a day,” says Toyoda. “But through social we can connect with many people at once.”