Microsoft customers have heard quite a bit about the acquisition of Yammer and the development of an integration roadmap between SharePoint and Yammer. Now, one year later, many organizations are in the middle of their SharePoint 2013 deployments, and they're trying to answer the question of how to best move forward with the available social features.I took my questions about the future of the social enterprise to some of the most experienced and influential thought leaders in the SharePoint community to talk about what enterprises want, what Microsoft's Yammer acquisition means, and what their perspectives are on Microsoft's vision for the future of social. Respondents are among the Top 25 Online SharePoint influencers, a list previously compiled by my client, social software provider harmon.ie. They include Sean Bordner, CEO at SharePoint AMS; Christian Buckley, Director at Axceler; Liam Cleary, Senior Manager at Protiviti; Joel Oleson, SharePoint Evangelist and Managing Director at Salient6; Jeremy Thake, Chief Architect at AvePoint; Rob Howard, Founder and CTO, Telligent Systems; and Wilco Turnhout, Owner of Rapid Circle. Yaacov Cohen, CEO of harmon.ie, is also one of the respondents.
What are businesses clamoring for?
"I'm seeing a deeper need for simplicity. I'm seeing a need for "zero learning curve" solutions. From a technology standpoint, the edge between work life and personal life has nearly vanished. Information workers can tolerate precious little learning curve, and upper management's tolerance threshold for learning a new tool is nearly non-existent." (Sean Bordner)
"People don't want to be tied down to a single platform. – they want the tools that work, that fit their particular requirements, and don't require a lot of setup and configuration. If I switch from an Android smartphone to a Windows Phone, I expect my apps to be there and work the same way. And I don't want a user experience designed for my laptop or workstation through the tiny screen of my smartphone – design a user experience made for the device." (Christian Buckley)
"I am seeing the demand for better collaboration tools that allow end users to work from anywhere, at any time. The mobile demand is an interesting one. We often assume this means the mobile device space when in fact it applies to a limited subset of devices based around the tablet form factor: laptops, home computers, internet cafes, and tablet devices." (Liam Cleary)
Microsoft's Yammer acquisition: Constructing a roadmap for the future of the social enterprise
"It was really smart of Microsoft to acquire the leader in the enterprise social networking space. They know what they are doing. But I do think there is still a lot of confusion around how SharePoint 2013 and Yammer will integrate with mobile to bring a cohesive solution to customers." (Joel Oleson)
"Microsoft has started to clarify what social means to them, and the reality is that if you are a customer with anything in the cloud Yammer is the strategy for the future. If you are an on-premises customer, then SharePoint 2013 and beyond is (your solution), as there is no Yammer on-premises option. My concern is the focus Microsoft will put on Yammer and not on SharePoint social for the on-premises scenario customers." (Jeremy Thake)
"Yammer, although mainly a defensive strategy, is great for corporate social. Yammer can play the role of gluing together the ERP's, CRM's, Collaboration, communication tools etc., while keeping agile and innovative by remaining a cloud/separate solution. It's good that Microsoft is commoditizing social by adding Yammer to other subscriptions." (Wilco Turnhout)
"Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer has allowed Microsoft to become much more social and much more relevant to advanced IT organizations. It also makes Microsoft more 'cool' for the actual user. Yammer is transcending the Microsoft brand in the social arena, in the enterprise context." (Yaacov Cohen)
What do you think of the Microsoft social strategy going forward?
"Microsoft's social strategy is more focused on internal (employee) collaboration, and how Yammer fits is still a work in progress. Public communities (for customer support, digital marketing, etc.) are a key value creator for social, especially when the enterprise has insight into the data that they provide; the acquisition of Yammer did not add this capability. Instead, Yammer focuses on one specific aspect of social - social networking, not social communities." (Rob Howard)
"The first challenge is understanding what the customer's strategy should be around which technologies to use and when. Many are not quite ready for cloud technologies including both Office 365 and Yammer. This will generate confusion as Microsoft continues to push Office 365 and Yammer." (Joel Oleson)
"Personally, I think Microsoft is misreading their SharePoint customer base. I understand the need to offer a cloud-based set of solutions and the change to an agile, online first product release cycle, but I believe they have underestimated the need for many organizations (predominantly outside of the US) who cannot or will not move to the cloud. Yammer is a great unstructured collaboration solution. But until Yammer can integrate with the structured collaboration functionality within SharePoint, the business value will be limited. There needs to be consistent experiences in the cloud and on premises." (Christian Buckley)
In my next article, I'll share the experts' insights regarding the challenge of integrating SharePoint, Yammer, and Office 365, and the secret sauce to successful social adoption in the enterprise.
Jenna Dobkin is a results-oriented advocacy and influencer engagement professional with a passion for helping businesses grow sales, build brands, and enhance community relationships, online and off. Over the past 10 years, she has worked extensively in the Microsoft developer and SharePoint communities. Clients include Visa International, McDonalds, Starbucks, Mainsoft, and harmon.ie. Jenna is also a nerd. She graduated top of her class from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business.