Thoughts on technology and innovation
Gary Polmateer, Solutions Consultant
Salesforce.com has acquired Dimdim, a free/open source screensharing platform. It graced through my Twitter feed a few weeks back which I did not give a large amount of thought until attending this week's Delcor Sweetspot. The topic made the agenda of the show, apparently Dimdim has a rather large following in the nonprofit space.
This evening I came across Lynn Morton's blog post: http://snapblogger.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/i-miss-you-already-dimdim/
Lynn presents an interesting argument which gets into a few conversations including usage of free applications for business usage. I was going to leave an epic comment but decided to write a separate post as this may be a bit much for a comment. I sympathize with current Dimdim customers that they are losing a free service that they will now need to find a replacement for. Luckily there are some replacement options at no or low cost. I came across this one last week which might be worth a shot: http://www.mikogo.com.
From my perspective the story is immensely different. Over the past two years I have watched Salesforce.com hatch their product called Chatter, which is purportedly going to be "Facebook for the enterprise". It is a cloud based internal collaboration tool that enables staff at a company to communicate in an exceptionally Facebook like way in a private, internal environment. At Dreamforce last month, Salesforce announced that it was going to open up Chatter to be free for any company to use.
Here's a quick video about free Chatter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSn5Uru7UJU
Immediately, while Dimdim will be going undercover for a while as Salesforce re-engineers its technology into the Chatter platform, any nonprofit can utilize the free Chatter platform to enable a large amount of collaboration among staff.
Now let's consider the future, which is pure conjecture on my part but it makes logical sense.
Currently Chatter is free for staff. Next, Salesforce opens up the invite system so a Chatter customer can invite anyone they choose inside or outside the company (although you can do it now if you create your own email aliasing). Now you have a pretty nifty collaboration platform that is still free but committees and members can all be using it as well. Heck, I'm just going to call it a private social network. Yes, that's right a hosted FREE PRIVATE SOCIAL NETWORK.
Here's where Dimdim comes back in. Chatter enables a Facebook like interface, file sharing, group creation, updates, and integrations with other applications. Now pile on screen sharing and you are now able to collaborate on the Chatter platform and natively fire up screen sharing right from the application. I feel like it can go beyond that, store the sessions in the Salesforce instance, log Dimdim activities as part of the CRM in the system, there is a lot of nice features that will be realized once Dimdim like functionality is part of the platform.
Acquiring Dimdim was a great strategic move by Salesforce.com to improve their offerings, which I genuinely believe will benefit the nonprofit community. They generously donate Salesforce.com to over 10,000 organizations, and with their free offerings on top of that any company can have access to some excellent technology. If we move beyond the free pieces and donation, the Salesforce platform is as robust as any and is the ideal environment to host an organizations AMS/Social Media hub/CRM system.
I'll climb down off of my soapbox and take my dreamer hat off, but suffice to say that there are some amazing things coming in the future. In the meantime, sign up for 100 free licenses of Salesforce.com. 5,000 Chatter Free licenses also come along for the ride. Check it out here: https://www.salesforce.com/form/signup/freeforce-platform.jsp
Thanks for reading.
Certified Salesforce Administrator & Consultant
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