Is Salesforce.com Planning a Facebook Style Timeline for Chatter?

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is just bonkers about Facebook. Listen to one of his keynotes and you’ll get the picture. Dion Hinchcliffe did the play-by-play at last year’s event. Here’s his take on the action:

 “….Entering new era, an exciting new era”. Not thanking IBM, not thanking big companies, we’re thanking Facebook that’s creating change and transformation, an “Arab Spring” in business.

9:32 – When will we hear a “corporate spring”, when customers rise up and demand that organizations listen? That’s the social revolution that’s coming. E-mail has eclipsed social networking users. Look at how Facebook is eating the Web. Now it’s all about Facebook.com/yourcompany, your company, your project, etc.

Salesforce.com Chatter is modeled on Facebook’s activity stream. It’s arguable that Salesforce.com entire social enterprise strategy is inspired by Facebook. It would make sense for Facebook to adopt a timeline theme. It fits with the Salesforce philosophy.

This theory makes sense when you read what Salesforce.com Chief Scientist JP Rangaswami says about the Facebook timeline which he wrote during the heart of the pre-Christmas holiday doldrums. He followed up on it here.

He even made a point of sending a signal in a follow up tweet to Benioff and Salesforce Strategist John Taschek, who wrote a pretty decent post on Monday about the still very young revolution that is happening in the enterprise.

Rangaswami is a deep thinking fellow. In the second post he writes about the influences of W Brian Arthur, a scholar and a visiting researcher at the PARC research labs.  In particular he refers to Arthur’s article in the McKinsey Quarterly (free membership required) about the second economy. The premise being that the current wave of digital innovation is the spring for a new economy.

He goes on to cite The Clue Train Manifesto, which so many have referenced for itshallmark description of what represents what we all are experiencing. And that is simply that “markets are conversations.”

Rangaswami’s theme ties back to his initial thesis that the innovation of the past 20 years has spawned companies like Wal-mart, which transformed the concept of a store by treating it as a part of a network out on the edge. Amazon developed the concept of the customer network. And in his view, Salesforce.com’s success stems from its philosophy that the relationship is the network.

And social objects stand at the heart of this relationship network.  This is why the Facebook wall succeeded. People relate to the experiences and interactions that come with social objects that they can relate to, share and discuss. That belief has to be followed in an age where machines will interact more often than people. We will need social objects to understand the context for who we are and how we relate to a connected world with as deep a mesh and reality as we experience in our human interactions.

Social objects become a network with their own matter. Their physics are only beginning to be understood but this is why a timeline makes sense. It fills the gap between social objects.

As Rangaswami says in his post:

Markets are conversations. Conversations are social, and take place between people usually around social objects. Social objects come in many shapes and guises.

The Facebook Timeline is about making the discovery of those conversations easier in space, time and context.

With that said, you can bet that Facebook will develop a timeline for Chatter in the coming year.

About Alex Williams

Alex Williams is an editor for SiliconAngle and lives a charmed life in Portland, Or.