Connecting with others via social networks has become part of how we live our lives. Now, it is going to become part of how we do business with the addition of Yammer to the Enterprise Office 365 bundle.
What is Yammer? Yammer is essentially a private social network that is designed to function within an organization or company. Imagine logging into a Facebook account where the only people you were friends with were colleagues. That is basically Yammer; unlike your company’s Facebook page, which is intended to connect primarily with external individuals, Yammer is meant to function internally and connect you with people in your own business.
Microsoft acquired the social network Yammer about a year ago in a 1.2 billion dollar deal. Initially marketed separately, Yammer has now been bundled with Office 365 for enterprise customers. By bundling these products, Microsoft highlights the potential to leverage the productivity side of business communication (SharePoint, Lync, etc.) with the social networking side of a business.
Although this may seem like a counterintuitive partnership, many businesses have seen impressive increases in productivity with the addition of the social networking element Yammer. By encouraging spontaneous communication and networking, Yammer allows for the creation of a unified, inclusive corporate culture where ad hoc teams and groups can form spontaneously to better share information and create solutions as issues arise.
We had the opportunity to demo Yammer at our office. The following is a brief walk through of the interface from the user side of things, to help you get a better idea of how your organization could make use of this social media.
A Walk Through Yammer:
When your organization first implements Yammer, you will receive an email prompting you to create your account. This process is straightforward – you create a personal login and password, and enter a small amount of information about your job. Once you have completed this, you are taken to your homepage.
Anyone who has had a Facebook account (or even, sign of the times, a Myspace) will recognize the homepage layout. At the top of the screen you have a search bar, and tabs to go to your homepage, your inbox, your announcements and alerts, and your account settings. Additionally there is an option to invite additional people, in case your cubicle neighbor has yet to join.
Continuing down the page, you will see content divided into three columns. There is a general newsfeed in the center, where information like who has joined recently, or who has posted something, will appear. Additionally, you can make general posts, upload images, start polls, and more here. In the right hand column, there are suggested tools, groups, company resources, and recent activity information. Most importantly, however, is the left hand column, because this is where you access groups.
Groups are the building blogs that Yammer is constructed from. All members are part of the initial “All Company” group, but from there members divide into groups based on interests, jobs, et cetera. Yammer recommends creating some standard groups like “Sales and Marketing”, “HR”, and “Operations”, but members are by no means limited to these options. Groups can be customized and members can be added as a business needs, and privacy settings can determine if any colleague can join or if only select individuals can. Additionally, groups can either be “Internal”, for people within the company, or “external” allowing collaboration between yours and other businesses.
Each group has its own newsfeed structure, including updates, documents, images, posts, etc., as well as tabs for accessing conversation, members, files, and notes. Essentially this allows you to limit conversations to only those whom the topic applies to. Discussing a potential marketing direction? Post a conversation in your marketing group!
Beyond just posting comments and discussions, Yammer lets you make announcements, post events, post polls, and even “praise” a member you feel deserves public recognition. All of this is designed to encourage easy, spontaneous, and productive networking without the corporate feel of Lync or SharePoint. If you need to contact someone one on one in real time similar to Lync, you can always use the chat window at the bottom right hand of the screen, or send the individual a personal message via your Yammer inbox.
A final note on Yammer – One of the things that Yammer does best is connect people across distance, be that in another part of the office, or on the other side of the world. To facilitate this Yammer offers mobile apps for employees on the go. If you are at a desktop, I would recommend downloading the Yammer Desktop Notification system, so that you receive instant updates without having to sit on the homepage.
So how will your business use Yammer? The fact of the matter is, social media is changing how we do business. Increasingly leveraging social media makes the difference between an organization’s success and failure. With Yammer, social media and social networking are no longer external –they are internal – and this could make all the difference in a business. Adam Pisoni, Yammer chief of technology, states that organizations need to figure out how to move away from the organizational chart and figure out how to be a network and embrace the connectedness of customers in today’s business environment in order to survive. Yammer is there to help with this.
Office 365 Advisors is a trusted Office 365 Consulting Agency. With hundreds of successful migrations under our belt, we have the knowledge you need to quickly and efficiently get in the cloud. For more information on the Yammer and Office 365 bundling for enterprise, contact us today!