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Today's announcement of Chatter Messenger and Chatter Screensharing adds new power to what we already call "the engine of the social enterprise," in the words of Senior VP and Chatter General Manager Kendall Collins. Ever since Chatter first went into general release, going on two years ago, it's steadily taken on new capabilities that have made other tools seem increasingly irrelevant; Messenger and Screensharing add real-time facilities that further extend the rich Chatter portfolio of threaded conversations, object-following updates, in-line processes, and secure external customer groups that combine to break down silos and add value to other IT assets.

Chatter has been genuinely game-changing, in my personal experience and as told to me by any number of customers and salesforce.com partners. In fact, many of salesforce.com's Account Executives have told me that customers no longer want to see a presentation, but rather demand a live and unscripted demo of how that AE does his or her own job with Chatter: when they see it, they realize that it's unique and that they really, really want it.

Messenger and Screensharing offer even more opportunity to work, full time, "in the app" – in a way that reduces delays, engages opportunities, and makes much better use of everything that an organization knows and that its people know how to do.

If Chatter has one big problem, it's that it's too easy to think that what's obvious is all that it does. If you look at Chatter and see a tool for secure conversation, and that's all you use it to do, you're leaving most of its value on the table.

This reminds me of a story that I read on the joke page of Boys' Life magazine, sometime around 1970, of a backwoods hermit who made a rare trip into town to buy a new saw: the store clerk persuaded him to upgrade from his trusty blade to a chain saw, telling him how much faster it would get things done, but the hermit came back the next week to complain that it didn't even cut as well as what he'd used before. Puzzled, the clerk started the motor – and the hermit asked, "What's that noise?"

Yes, you can cut with a chain saw whose motor isn't running, but you'll wonder why anyone thinks it's a better way to work; likewise, you can use a tool like Salesforce Chatter as merely a private and secure conversation application, but you'll be missing out on its biggest contributions to cutting through the clutter and focusing on what matters most. Start your social enterprise engine – and start cutting.

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