Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Social Enterprise Apps Are Popular, and So Is Attacking Chatter

Get out your scorecards. There’s yet another social enterprise play to keep track of. And like all the others, it’s being actively marketed as an alternative to Chatter.com, the social enterprise app from Salesforce.com.

BroadVision today announced Clearvale Express, which it describes as a free and streamlined version of Clearvale Enterprise, its cloud-based business collaboration platform. It was created in part at the suggestion of Softbank, the Japanese telecom concern that is a partner on the product and will resell it in Asian markets.

Above, that’s an ad for Clearvale Express evoking the old “Pepsi challenge” ads from the early 1980s. In this case, Chatter is being portrayed as “Coke,” the established player being challenged by the upstart, which is silly because Chatter is a relatively new player in an increasingly crowded social enterprise market, though Salesforce is clearly the biggest among the new entrants.

Bashing Salesforce is suddenly trendy. On Sunday, Yammer and Socialcast were spotted buying text ads on Google using the word “chatter” in hopes of catching the odd Google user responding to the pair of TV ads for Chatter.com that aired during the Super Bowl.

And that followed an attack video put out by Yammer highlighting how Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff loved Yammer at a 2008 TechCrunch event and accusing him of basically copying it. You can see that video below. Then there’s Jive, which used an industry survey to try to make a case that it’s a worthier player in the space than Chatter or anyone else, for that matter.

I’m betting there’s more of this public pile-on ahead, though with luck it will be followed by a round of deal-making. Last year, Gartner estimated the 2011 market opportunity for all these apps at less than $800 million and said that it’s tracking at least 80 vendors, at least 50 of which are based in the cloud. That makes the social enterprise market seem like small potatoes at first until you see Gartner’s prediction that these apps will replace email–Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes–as the primary tool for collaboration in businesses for 20 percent of companies within three years.

Combine that with a longer-term shift away from email–by teens, college-age people and younger people entering the workforce–and toward communication via Facebook and things like it, and you’ve got the makings of a fundamental shift in what’s considered normal as workplace technology. No wonder they’re taking swipes at each other. It is, however, already getting old .


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