Salesforce Rewards Workers for Using Chatter

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Picked by Techconnect's Editors has developed an analytics tool to monitor employees' use of the Chatter social-networking platform so that it can offer additional compensation to workers who make valuable contributions, Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said Thursday.

Chatter, which Salesforce introduced earlier this year, lets all types of employees contribute ideas and feedback within an organization, Benioff said. The company has also developed a Chatter monitoring tool he called Chatterlytics, which the company has not yet released but is using internally. Some workers might add as much value to the company as do high-level executives, and should be paid accordingly, he said.

"You, as an individual contributor, can receive the same compensation -- stock, cash -- as an executive vice president," Benioff said in an on-stage conversation with Forbes Associate Editor Victoria Barret at the NetWork conference in San Francisco. His appearance coincided with Salesforce's Dreamforce conference, where the company introduced a free version of Chatter called Chatter Free.

Chatter can help enterprises break down the hierarchies that prevent rank-and-file employees from contributing new ideas, Benioff said.

"It provides this vast democratization," Benioff said. "It empowers and it enables the employees who are really making a difference."

Within Salesforce, the most highly active Chatter users are called the Chatterati, Benioff said. Chatterlytics is designed to identify the most valuable contributors to the social network. Benioff did not describe how it does so or say when the tool might be made into a product.

One company that has adopted Chatter on a large scale is Dell, where it has been deployed to about 113,000 users, he said. There, it helped Chairman and CEO Michael Dell bring employees from two departments together to carry through on a sale, Benioff said.

"You've got to have massive communication. You have to have overcommunication," Benioff said. Ultimately, that transparency between executives and employees builds trust and allows everyone to work as one team.

Asked if rogue employees with access to sensitive information could use all that sharing to disrupt a business, Benioff pointed to the WikiLeaks scandal and said it came about without anything like Chatter.

"It's the government and it's all on-premise, and it's the top security in the world," yet data still was leaked, he said. With proper leadership, setting up an open communication system might even make those kinds of leaks less likely, Benioff said.

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