Social Enterprise

What the Office 365/Yammer integration means for your enterprise social plans

Find out what Microsoft's investment in social collaboration might mean for your Enterprise Social Network initiative.

The initial focus of Microsoft’s “Future of Productivity” road map has been on Office, SharePoint, and other products, but Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer has marked an interesting shift in the company's vision of productivity.

On the surface, the $1.2 billion purchase suggests Microsoft is staking its claim in the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) race. With this purchase and the intense effort to integrate Yammer into Office 365, Microsoft seems to recognize the value of open sharing of information across the enterprise. Whether Microsoft will be able to dominate the ESN scene is up in the air, but the company should get kudos from learning from past mistakes and not being late to the ESN dance.

In fact, Microsoft just announced that ABB, a massive global power and automation technology company, will deploy Office 365 and Yammer to its 145,000 employees worldwide. In a company press release, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner highlighted the importance of this partnership:

"ABB's decision as a global technology leader to deploy Office 365 and Yammer will help it realize its vision for empowering employees with new ways of working via enterprise social and the cloud. When you remove barriers to productivity and innovation and enable employees to collaborate and communicate even more freely and seamlessly across organizational and geographical boundaries, incredible things happen."

It’s too early to tell Microsoft's stake in ESN dominance will succeed. According to Gartner Research Director Larry Cannell, it could be market changing, depending on how long it takes Microsoft to deliver the full product. He suggests that companies should not abandon any current ESN products that are fulfilling current needs for Microsoft's Yammer solution based on promises of future integration. He advises companies to wait until Microsoft proves it can deliver.

What this news means to you

So what does Microsoft’s move to integrate Yammer and Office 365 mean for the rest of us? It proves that ESN is now a must-have business solution. ESN adoption will require new job roles -- a moderator, a community manager, and a content creator -- and responsibilities. If you ignore adding these critical roles, you might kill your ESN before it even takes off.

You also need to consider who owns what on the ESN. For public social media, the battle for control has, for the most part, been won by marketing and PR. However, it gets more complicated in an ESN. IT may own the platform, but HR and corporate communications frequently own the message. And what about department silos where groups collaborate and produce ideas and products? This is not an easy battle to win.

Another consideration when launching an ESN initiative is how to implement social governance. Rules and regulations are necessary for effective social participation and, with a more open way of collaborating and sharing information, establishing straightforward rules of engagement becomes mission critical. Employee profiles, activity streams, and document sharing all carry more responsibility when shared under the corporate umbrella.

The big question to consider is: How will your organization benefit from using ESN? Once that question is answered, the details about ownership will be much easier to figure out.

Conclusion

Businesses are looking for ways to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing, and Microsoft's investment in social collaboration proves that eventually all software will become more social.

Do you agree with my take on Office 365 and Yammer and what this means for ESN? Let us know in the discussion.

About

For more than a decade, Angela Lawson has written about Technology and Interactive Communications for companies such as TechRepublic, Download.com, CNET, KIOSK Marketplace, Autodesk, Vibrant Nation, and more. Between writing assignments Angela works ...

3 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Who's doing all this collaborating? Maybe a small company or a firm where projects and innovation are key ingredients? I have a hard time getting interest in collaboration tools from many of my manufacturing users below the management level (and some at the upper levels aren't interested either). This all sounds very utopian, but my experience is that most employees want to do the minimum to get by, aren't very good at expressing themselves in writing, or have nothing to contribute.

stnwall
stnwall

I agree that ESN will be developing into a nice category. However, I am not sold on the MS Subscription model and Office 365 for everybody. You seem to be ignoring the internal SharePoint integration which is where I expect this to make bigger splash.

content_brain
content_brain

Right now there is a great deal of overlap between to the two products. While there seems to be many questions still unanswered concerning the Yammer acquisition and integration, the sweet spot for Yammer is that itÂ’s is ahead of the game in evolving the social experience. Sharepoint was built around document sharing while Yammer built to enhance open communication and creating opportunities for connections. Microsoft is adamant in claims that Yammer will never be an on-premise solution and always exist in the cloud. For those set on an OOTB solution Sharepoint 2013 will suffice. However, Microsoft is pushing hard for putting software on the cloud and integrating the two could prove difficult.