That's exactly what Saleforce.com did when it introduced its Chatter collaboration platform back in 2010. In SuccessFactors' case, the collaboration app is Jam, which shares Facebook-like microblogging characteristics such as profiles, groups, activity streams, likes, and so on. But Jam also has a rich-media twist, capturing and sharing screencasts, slideshares, photos, and documents.
Jam's strengths are tied to its origins in Jambok, the social-learning and multimedia training company SuccessFactors acquired last March. Jambok's tools enable users to capture Web cam videos, narration, and other multimedia assets. It can be as simple as posting questions, ideas, or suggestions, or as elaborate as creating training materials or courses incorporating how-to videos.
Just as Salesforce.com offers free Chatter services and $15/user per month Chatter Plus premium services, SuccessFactors says it will offer free Jam services to its more than 15 million users and a more advanced Premier version with unlimited storage and groups, connectors to third-party systems such as SharePoint, and automated group management. SuccessFactors did not disclose the cost of Jam Premium, but in a statement it said that more than 430,000 seats of the service were installed in the last quarter of 2011 alone.
[ For more on the SuccessFactors-Salesforce.com battle, see Should SAP + SuccessFactors Worry Salesforce.com? ]
With Wednesday's announcement, Jam became a standard feature of SuccessFactor's BizX suite, which includes SaaS-based apps for employee performance management, recruiting, variable pay, and compensation management, strategy management, goal execution, and succession, workforce planning, and the CubeTree social collaboration platform. Jam functionality now embedded in the BizX Mobile app will enable smartphone users to post comments, and capture and share photos and video wherever they are.
The hope in delivering free functionality such as Chatter or Jam is that it will become a sticky app that will promote upgrades to premium services and more frequent use of other functionality. With this in mind, SuccessFactors has an edge over Salesforce.com in numbers of seats served, with more than 15 million subscribers among about 3,500 customers. That's because the BizX suite--or at least the performance-review aspect thereof--tends to be deployed to every employee in an enterprise.
Salesforce.com's footprint is typically limited to sales and service teams; it serves roughly 3 million seats among approximately 100,000 customers. The question is whether HR and training-related matters will spawn more day-to-day collaborative sessions than sales and service-related matters. On that score, Salesforce Chatter may be a more vital app.
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