Salesforce announced the public launch of Chatter, its Facebook-like tool for enterprise, this morning at Cloudforce Tour 2010 in San Jose. Salesforce has been using Chatter in-house for several months, and employees' response

to it has been impressive.

I’ve talked to a handful of Salesforce employees and all were excited about how Chatter opened lines of communication within the company and made information-sharing more fluid.

At last week’s interview about the World Cup, Salesforce’s Viviana Padilla and Phil Novack described how Chatter was changing their work lives. Granted, these are people from Salesforce PR and marketing, but their excitement about the product seemed genuine.

“It really is changing the way we collaborate,” Padilla said.

“Just think about all the friends and people you know where you have insights into what’s going on in their lives that you wouldn’t have otherwise,” Novack said about Facebook. "Why can’t you bring those same benefits to the workplace?”

“It’s odd, because our CEO follows me,” Padilla said. “Would he ever know what I’m working on normally? Absolutely not.”

Information is a company’s greatest asset, but it is often mishandled. “Companies are not really set up to make information accessible,” Padilla said.

One of the biggest difficulties in any company is getting information to the person who needs it, when they need it. Giving employees a tool that allows information to be passed along in real-time could be powerful.

“That’s how things have really changed for us,” Padilla said. “You used to send an email and that email was visible to only three or four people. Now, anybody who’s following you or is following the person who is sending can see the message.”

Has Chatter changed people’s day-to-day work lives at Salesforce since its implementation last fall?

“For me it definitely has,” Padilla said. “The fact that I can have Alex [Dayon], who is EVP of CRM pay attention to something that I’m working on, and he can send that information to Marc [Benioff, Salesforce CEO] is a great example.”

“But even just day-to-day,” Padilla added. “If I’m working on a presentation and I post it in Chatter, different people will comment on it. I posted ‘Working on my breakout session for Cloudforce’ on Chatter yesterday, and I had three people post, saying, “Hey, do you need help? What do you need from me?”

By Mark Alvarez