A large amount of enterprise knowledge and memory resides in the heads of employees. Much of this knowledge is exchanged informally around water coolers and coffee stands or via email. This is helpful to the parties involved but there is no easy way to capture this knowledge and link it to organisational experts and the subject matter in a structured or even semi-structured fashion.
People are not generally responsive to logging on to an enterprise application and capturing details of the discussion they’ve engaged, especially after the discussion has occurred.
Typically in most organisations upto 75% (my estimate) of email messages are generated in response to an initial email in which a question is asked, a suggestion is made, clarity is sought, etc.
This develops into a full-blown conversation which is difficult to track and manage. What’s more, the entire conversation is then buried in an email archive and lost forever. If this conversation could be captured against a particular event, file, shared link, account, case, etc it would address much of the issues raised. This would be an efficient and effective way of managing and understanding the conversation as it develops and tracking any follow-up discussions and actions.
This is one of the primary use cases which Chatter (from salesforce.com) can address.
The fact that behaviours may have to be changed to achieve this is important to realise and overcome but it applies to any new form of innovation. Think of email when it was first introduced. Many organisations may have to be pushed into adopting a new idea, process or platform before they realise and benefit from the value of it.