STOP: Yammer Time! — Microsoft’s Next Social Revolution

By - September 7, 2013

“It’s dead,” Jive CEO Tony Zingale stated when asked about Yammer during a panel discussion at Fortune Brainstorm Tech.

A year after its acquisition by Microsoft, many believe that Yammer has lost its edge over competitors like Jive and Chatter, particularly with a recent set of authentication vulnerabilities.

But Microsoft isn’t ready to roll out the funeral procession just yet; in fact, they seem to be preparing Yammer for a long and prosperous life. The potentially disastrous security flaws were fixed almost as soon as they were reported, and with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 release gearing up for the end of the year, many are excitedly talking – er, yammering – about the possibilities of new features for the social networking platform.

 Why all the buzz?

In an age where Facebook would be the third largest nation on earth, and upwards of 15,000 tweets are posted every minute, Microsoft is working to keep up with trends and make their products – and customers – more sociable.

Jared Spataro, a senior director in the Microsoft Office Division, recently wrote about the future of Yammer, highlighting the incorporation of SharePoint:

“If you’re planning a [SharePoint] 2013 environment and you’re wanting to incorporate Social
capabilities, you should be looking at Yammer as that integration piece. [Yammer] adoption is up
tremendously over the last year, jumping to nearly eight million users…we can take a look at the
current functionality and what’s coming down the road to see why Yammer is the way to go.”

Yammer is going to be the constant and essential companion of SharePoint moving forward, taking over the front end while SharePoint handles the brunt of documents on the back end. Microsoft is hopeful that this integration will help SharePoint increase user adoptability and enterprise social functionality.

 New for Users

Single Authentication

Current Functionality: Users are required to log in to Yammer and SharePoint to access both newsfeeds. New Feature: Beginning this fall, users will only need to sign on once to access both newsfeeds.

 Integrated Search

Current Functionality: The accessibility of social content is limited within Yammer. New Feature: Users will have the ability to use SharePoint’s search feature to search Yammer conversations.

 Messaging

Current Functionality: The messaging tool in Yammer is operational, but far from perfect. New Feature: Enhancements to the messaging tool will make it easier to use and a primary means of communication.

SharePoint Follow

Current Functionality: Users can follow and see updates from their Yammer newsfeeds, while SharePoint’s “My Links” feature was discontinued in SharePoint 2010. New Feature: The SharePoint newsfeed will be integrated with Yammer newsfeeds, so users will be able to follow and see updates from both platforms. Users will be able to quickly access the sites and documents they follow from within SharePoint.

 E-mail

Current Functionality: Users can receive daily digest e-mails from Yammer to gain overview. New Feature: Users will be able receive e-mail alerts and digests from Yammer and SharePoint to stay up to date with the latest news, project developments, and discussions.

Mobile App

Current Functionality: The Yammer mobile app faces constant criticism for bugs, missing features on some devices, and a poor interface. New Feature: Expansion of the Yammer mobile application to a wider variety of devices will allow for better accessibility and improve user experience.

Cloud Solutions

Current Functionality: SharePoint 2010 handles a large percentage of tasks at the server level, so cloud capabilities are constrained. New Feature: The Yammer-SharePoint integration will allow companies to seamlessly move some workload to the cloud, enabling simultaneous updates among all users, and enhanced mobile access. SharePoint 2013 will continue to be an option for companies who can’t use the cloud for security or privacy reasons.

Rating Features

Current Functionality: Yammer employs a “Like” feature (a la Facebook) for objects in the newsfeed, while SharePoint gives users the option of a star rating (zero-five) for most lists and libraries. New Feature: Users will have the ability to turn on the “Like” feature or the star rating for every list and library within SharePoint. The likes and ratings a document receives improve the relevancy of the document in SharePoint search.

 Tagging

Current Functionality: Subject searching in SharePoint is limited to keywords. New Feature: Documents in SharePoint will have the option to be tagged with appropriate terms relating to the contents, allowing users to follow the tags directly to view related documents, and making tagged documents more relevant in searches.

 Task Assignment

Current Functionality: Users manually keep track of tasks in different project sites within SharePoint. New Feature: Tasks will be automatically rolled up for users. When users are assigned a task, they will show under “Tasks” in their newsfeed, regardless of the location of the task in SharePoint, and can be filtered by project site.

 Discussion Threads

Current Functionality: Discussions in Yammer are often found in the newsfeeds of team sites, though many users typically default to usinge-mail, and messages can get muddied and lost in inboxes. New Feature: Conversations will be able to be held on newsfeeds of team sites within SharePoint as well as Yammer, allowing for easy referencing and the involvement of more participants.

The Bottom Line

 Yammer is a powerful tool for modern business that can be easily and readily adapted by a wide variety of enterprises. With the impending SharePoint integration, 2014 is going to continue to see it help users become more efficient and more connected with their work. Yammer is still growing, still evolving, still improving, and is – perhaps most importantly – still not dead.

By: Lindsay Kurt – Minnesota Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner

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