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Salesforce Chatter Communities replacing Salesforce Portals?

Salesforce · Chatter · Communities · Perficient is incredibly excited to see the continued investment makes in Salesforce ChatterSalesforce Service Cloud, and the platform. These innovations provide our customers new ways to engage with employees, customers, partners, and the public at large. What does the announcement of Salesforce Chatter Communities have on the future direction of the Salesforce Customer Portal and Salesforce Partner Portal? Do the Portals as we know them today go away?

As a partner that is fortunate enough to have continuous exposure to many of the new products (and as a member of the Chatter Communities pilot program) here are our thoughts:

The Customer and Partner Portals will be replaced by Chatter Communities 

Our belief is that this direction makes sense for the following reasons:

  1. Feeds Are In, Records Are Out!Salesforce Portals, regardless of what pretty user interface front ends them, are largely record centric views. With the pervasiveness of Chatter, Facebook, and other Enterprise Social Networks, people are getting accustomed to feed based applications and their promise of productivity gains (e.g. less email, more collaboration).
  2. Community Solving Popularity:People are collaborating on problems and sharing solutions within and increasingly across companies lines. The current Salesforce Portals, with the exception of Salesforce Answers and Salesforce Ideas, do not lend themselves to easily enable this type of cross organization collaboration.
  3. Application Consistency and  Reduced Cost of Ownership:As an implementation partner that has benefitted from the Salesforce Portals being “different” from “standard Salesforce” to administer I am reluctant to say 🙂 that making the Portals work more like Salesforce Chatter will likely make the Chatter Communities easier to set up and configure. This is a good thing for our customers!


In summary. There are fundamental changes happening in how people sell, collaborate, and engage with their customers, partners, and the wider community:

    • Companies walls have expanded to include a larger community
    • Hierarchies are less important. All community members have a voice. Community prevails.

A new product that looks through a wider lens, a lens supporting different permission based views, in a collaborative visually appealing way where all users are operating on the same data and platform is needed. Perficient  looks forward to seeing Chatter Communities taking the value of the current portal products and marrying it with the collaborative power of Chatter. Expect a lot of blogging about Chatter Communities between now and General Availability next Summer.

Thoughts on “Salesforce Chatter Communities replacing Salesforce Portals?”

  1. Nice post, Andrew. Do you have a sense for how disruptive the implementation of this “replacement” will be to those of us who are already heavy portal users? It looks to me that it basically changes the home page, adds Chatter-specific tabs, and then of course adds Chatter functionality throughout the portal as it exists today. But hopefully, it won’t require any major rework of existing functionality besides removing most things we’ve implemented on the homepage (e.g. Portal Publisher).

  2. Andrew O'Driscoll Post author

    Hi Chris. You make it sound simple and for the most part it should be since the underlying licenses and security remain as they are today.

    I believe the ease of making the switch will be directly correlated to the extent to which companies have customized the Portal, and how much of that customization they want to retain when they move to a Chatter Community based view. For example companies that have done any of the following, will need to consider the impact of moving to Chatter Communities and to what extent they will need to customize Chatter Communities:
    – Extensive use of Visualforce pages v. standard Salesforce declarative pages
    – Extensive over-riding of the cascading style sheet (css) to get pixel perfect branding

    Put another way, if you have customized the heck out of the portal UI using Chatter Communities out of the box will probably present a challenge!

    The other topic to consider is what news things you can offer to your users that Chatter Communities provides. Take for example allowing users from different companies to collaborate on a deal. This will excite some companies, and fill others with fear about record visibility. It’s going to be a fun journey to see this transition happen. It’s needed.

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Andrew ODriscoll

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