Last week I underwent an intensive immersion in all things Yammer in a two day session provided by Microsoft and Yammer folks in Chicago, and I left with a newfound enthusiasm for the Yammer platform and its potential for adoption within the Enterprise, and for the positive business value a properly tended Yammer roll-out could create for our customers.

While the intersection and co-existence of Yammer and SharePoint 2013 Social still remains muddy, one thing is clearer to me – if a firm is considering a major Social foray inside the firewall, and wants to facilitate the connection and collaboration between employees separated by geography or role, they cannot go wrong leveraging the Yammer platform.

Some thoughts that will feed a few future posts on Enterprise Social:

  • While still hazy (particularly for on premise SharePoint), the symbiosis between Yammer and SharePoint 13 Social (My Sites, the Activity feed and the follows and likes inside SharePoint itself) is imminent, but when is the question, and what features will come online first. For now they continue to mirror much of the same functionality. Microsoft has released a App/Web part that allows for targeted Yammer groups to be exposed within SharePoint itself. While these feeds can replace or co-exist with SharePoint Social, it would be confusing for end users to have two Social feed systems, so my recommendation is to choose Yammer (depending on governance, budget and compliance situation you find yourself in).
  • Relating to governance, a clear-eyed consideration is needed for the document management features of Yammer – as it is not just on Social that Yammer mirrors SharePoint. Yammer users can now post, follow, and collaborate on documents in Yammer. The feature cannot be “turned-off” so Enterprises need to be aware of the ramifications of placing corporate content outside of their servers and govern it with a personalized acceptable use policy – and police it accordingly. Once a document leaves SharePoint into Yammer, consideration is also need for the loss of the rich DM features SharePoint brings around version control, workflow, publishing, search and a whole host of other sophisticated features SharePoint brings to the table.
  • With a paid Yammer network, the ability to allow for Single Sign-on (SSO) through Active Directory Sync is an absolute must for seamless end user experience, and proper network security management. Now when people join or leave your organization, and are managed properly in your Active Directory they are automatically provisioned/de-provisioned for Yammer – and consequently can pick up yammer feeds embedded in SharePoint pages without the bother of a second log-in to Yammer from within SharePoint.
  • The paid for Yammer network (free for E4 class Office 365 customers), also allows for all sorts of additional and critical features around administration and measurement (analytics) of Yammer. Additionally admins can now control and delete, backup and pull down content from Yammer with a series of interfaces and APIs.
  • The free Yammer network is good for testing the potential of a Social solution (in a POC sense), but should not be considered for a full enterprise roll-out. There are too many missing administrative needs and governance holes.

The single most significant aspect that became clearer to me on this deep dive was that the commitment and on-going success of a Social program requires a fairly strong commitment from an enterprise. You can’t just set up a Yammer site, and let your people in. You need a roll-out plan, you need to find and train evangelists, you need to designate administrators and Community Managers. There all also a whole host of ideas we have to help generate the positive roll-out and ongoing operational success of an enterprise grade Social network. We are happy to discuss any of these issues, concerns and potentials with you – just ping us!

More to come.