BroadVision's Free Business Social Media App Challenges Salesforce's Chatter

A San Francisco Bay-area company has come up with what it thinks is a more compelling alternative for enterprises to Salesforce.com's Chatter business social media application. BroadVision's Clearvale Express is a free social media app that can be upgraded to a paid Clearvale Enterprise edition with additional features businesses could find valuable.

February 10, 2011

2 Min Read
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A San Francisco Bay-area company has come up with what it thinks is a more compelling alternative for enterprises to Salesforce.com's Chatter business social media application. BroadVision's Clearvale Express is a free social media app that can be upgraded to a paid Clearvale Enterprise edition with additional features businesses could find valuable.

BroadVision has also announced that Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Telecom is using Clearvale Enterprise internally and is also using BroadVision's PaasPort platform-as-a-service offering to sell Clearvale Express to its enterprise customers. Salesforce's Chatter is free for businesses to use within their own companies to share information with co-workers, much like people do on Facebook, but BroadVision thinks enterprises want to do more than what Chatter offers, says Giovanni Rodriguez, chief marketing officer.

Chatter is limited to communication within companies because a user can collaborate only with people who have the same e-mail address domain name as theirs. But Clearvale allows social networking with partners and customers, as well, Rodriguez says.

"A lot of use cases in enterprise 2.0 situations  are about external collaboration," he says. "We think there's a missed opportunity if you don't allow for that." BroadVision's strategy is to offer Clearvale Express for free, "to get people understanding what this is before upgrading to a more enterprise class implementation," Rodriguez says.

Chatter is getting a lot of traction because Salesforce is putting a big marketing push behind it, such as a $3 million TV ad aired during last Sunday's Super Bowl. Salesforce aired an animated commercial for Chatter featuring members of the musical group the Black Eyed Peas, who performed during half time. Rodriguez argues that BroadVision can benefit indirectly from Salesforce's marketing spend because it raises broader awareness of business social media offerings.Clearvale and Chatter are also joined by a company called Yammer in offering business social media services. Yammer serves enterprises ranging from oil company Chevron and consulting firm Deloitte to the start-up Groupon, which delivers location-based coupons to consumers' smartphones.

But like Chatter, Yammer is also limited to social networking within companies. With such tools, sales representatives can help each other cultivate sales leads and close deals, and other employees can solve customer service problems and spur innovation by collectively sharing ideas.

Clearvale Express offers that kind of collaboration but also integrates with Google Docs, which a growing number of businesses are using to create and share documents. Clearvale Enterprise can provide additional business services, including customized "widgets," which are small applications created to form specific enterprise functions.

BroadVision hopes to sell PaasPort to other telcos besides SoftBank, to create social media and other related collaboration services to sell to their business customers, Rodriguez says.

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