Salesforce is taking on the Intranet and launching a new product called Company Communities to help transform the archaic system into one that is mobile and social for the “real-time worker.”

The enterprise cloud computing service provider says that with this product, companies will be able to create personalized experiences to capture the attention of employees and boost their efficiency at completing tasks.

The belief that employees are fond of bringing their own device to work and accustomed to using apps and social media at work has been highly talked about for a while now. Salesforce says that recent studies show that 80 percent of employees bring their own mobile device to work, while 68 percent are using social in the workforce. 66 percent are demanding more corporate mobile apps.

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Salesforce’s EVP for its platform Mike Rosenbaum says that companies are spending $2 billion each year on “underwhelming Intranet websites that most employees just do not use.”  The problem Salesforce sees with the Intranet of old is that it doesn’t cater towards today’s workforce — a group of people who are accustomed to being able to access information no matter where they are and on any device.

In a Gartner Forecast of Enterprise Software Markets, it’s said that Intranets today are static, feature yesterday’s news, has irrelevant information, and simply pushes content out at employees, offering no interactivity whatsoever.

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With Company Communities, businesses can give their employees a system that not only is available on mobile, but also leverages Chatter, Salesforce’s enterprise social network. With this re-imagined Intranet, employees will be able to access it right from their mobile device, share files, engage with experts, and even access apps to help teams be more productive.

  • Publish: Users can publish, review, update and approve content while also submitting information to specific colleagues based on roles and profiles. Think about it like you were tagging a person or group on Facebook.
  • Engage experts: Creating social profiles for every employee, Company Communities will enable anyone to discover someone with considerable knowledge about a specific topic.
  • Share and collaborate on files: Employees can access, post, share, and get feedback on work files and assign them to specific projects or teams.
  • Access Apps: A library of Salesforce and third-party applications that employees can download to help them do their jobs better.

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If you’re thinking that the above sounds remarkably like Salesforce’s Chatter Communities, which it launched earlier this month, then you’re right. One of the main differences here is that Company Communities is geared towards internal teams while Chatter Communities is for customers and partners.

When we heard about this new offering, one thing that caught our eye was the similarities to Chatter and why a business would choose Company Communities over Chatter. After all, the latter does offer employees the option to talk with one another and even collaborate.  But Salesforce says that after customer feedback, it realises there are some in the market that want a product with more flexibility and scale that Chatter cannot provide.

The former essentially takes all of the social products that have already been developed, whether it’s Chatter, Communities, or its mobile development SDK services, and boils it into one solid product for internal teams to coalesce around and become what Salesforce hopes will be a connected company.

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While launching today, companies will not be able to actually implement this evolved form of an Intranet until at least the second half of 2013. The pricing for this feature won’t be available as well until it gets closer to being released. Salesforce tells us that it already has approximately 20 companies using Company Communities, including Virgin America, Brown-Forman, and Burberry.

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