Businesses today struggle with social collaboration and information sharing. Companies use means of communication and collaboration that are, in a word, archaic to the times. The primary form of communication in the work place is email, yet this medium isn’t how most people collaborate and share information in their personal lives. Social networks have overtaken email clients in terms of monthly active users (MAU), with social networks possessing 2.7 billion MAU and email clients having 1.6 billion MAU, according to Business Insider. To help businesses adapt to the times and empower employees to collaborate and share information in innovative ways, Salesforce has the software solution Chatter.

Chatter, in its formal definition, can be considered an enterprise social network and a collaboration software solution for businesses of all sizes. It empowers users to collaborate and interact with their fellow employees by providing users with the social capabilities and features they use in their personal lives in the workplace setting. The biggest question, though, is how to utilize the tool provided by Salesforce to get the most value from your interactions with fellow Chatter users.

Chatter has a wide variety of use cases throughout the business place. For example, often times when using email, information transmission can lag between parties. For two individuals tracking a deal, one person may know the deal has advanced to a further stage then the other. Chatter helps in eliminating this knowledge gap by enabling the two people to see and communicate on up-to-date information. Here's a visual demo of the tool, and how it serves as both a connector and sharer for its users.

I've had an incredible personal experience with Chatter, and I credit my manager with showing me how to best use its capabilities. He would create specific groups that featured members of his team, and add appropriate people to the group along the way. Chatter would enable him to share files with his team members, @-mention them with specific questions and asks for the files, as well as provide provide follow-up and recognition in the comments section of posts. He was able to efficiently share information with his colleagues and myself, with our tasks being in a centralized and public place as opposed to being on an email chain. Chatter also enabled our team to reference real-time details on specific accounts that we can discuss easily and efficiently. If my manager wanted to see what the story was regarding the details an account was showing, all he would have to do was click the 'Feed' tab for the account on Chatter to see the recent activity, who updated account details, and any commentary or interactions occurring around the account.

The information sharing doesn't stop with account details. I've used Chatter as a vehicle to greatly enhance my knowledge of Salesforce. During this summer, one of the tasks for my internship was to study for and pass the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam. Though Salesforce provided excellent resources for me to study when I signed up for the exam, I wanted to be sure that my studying was as complete as possible. At my manager's request, I joined the Chatter study group that's content was specific for the exam. By becoming a part of this group, I could interact with people who were trying to accomplish the same thing as me. People could post their study guides, helpful links, and studying tips in the group. When it came down to take my certification exam, I was more than prepared to ace the test. After I passed, being in the group inspired me to post my study materials and helpful tips for prospective people taking the exam. Chatter fosters collaboration and information sharing that may not occur if communication occurred solely via email.

Chatter has capabilities that are wide-reaching. Since accounts, opportunities, campaigns, service cases, and projects are all accessible via Chatter, employees are able to quickly collaborate on a variety of different items. Similar to the way social applications enable the sharing of different forms of information in a variety of ways, Chatter gives power to users by having a very broad functionality. Sharing screenshots from dashboards, providing visibility on specific accounts, and collaborating on certain events that are upcoming is all easier in Chatter. The platform connects people across an organization together, regardless of what role they may be in or where their location may be. It enables users to go to one place for all actions they wish to perform, and not have to download multiple apps to get required actions completed.

One of Chatter's strengths is that objects within an ecosystem are able to interact with it. Chatter is embedded in the business process for Salesforce. There's a wide variety of cases where it empowers Salesforce employees to be more productive. I see this feature most noticeably when it comes to opportunity updates. I have reports that show the current status of the forecasted attrition on an opportunity, one of the key metrics that I track. Yet what the reports fail to do is provide the story behind the opportunity's current status. I don't have visibility on how the opportunity is trending with the report. Chatter enables me to see details behind the updates on an opportunity, and the history of those updates. When a Sales Rep, Opportunity Owner, or Success Manager updates details in the account, it can be seen in in the feed of the opportunity. To see these updates as they happen, I can follow the opportunity to have it show up in my live Chatter feed.

Another unique feature that Chatter promotes is the ability to quickly look up information that one may need. This post has largely talked about instances where people or groups of people are sharing information with one another. Chatter enables users to find information even if they aren't getting the information shared with them directly. In Lightning Experience, users are able to search items that they want to view in the 'Feed Search' feature located near the top of the Chatter feed. They can also see trending hot topics on the right side of the screen, which provides quick access and visibility on areas that current user activity is strong on. Chatter cuts down time that a user spends trying to trace down information in email threads and documents, promoting productivity by enabling users to be more efficient in finding the things that they need.

Efficiently and quickly sharing information is of the utmost importance in today's fast-paced society. This desire to quickly communicate and collaborate is seen with the rise of social media applications in the consumer space. Chatter is the business solution to information sharing in the high tech world that we live in. Though Chatter can be construed as being of a different format than tools like email, it performs key business information sharing functions while expanding the functionality that email provides through its collaboration tools. If a company wants to maximize the way that it shares information and collaborates, adopting Chatter as a resource is an important first step.

If you want to view the features of Chatter more in-depth, please check out this link that highlights the wide variety of Chatter's capabilities.

This piece is the fourth in a series that will be released this summer titled “Re-Think: A Millennial's View On Current Technology”. It will highlight the viewpoints of a millennial who has spent the past three years interning at Salesforce, one of the fastest growing and most innovative technology companies in the world. The writer is a current rising senior at New York University's Manhattan campus.