Will Yammer improve SharePoint?

Will Yammer improve SharePoint?

Summary: It's difficult to see how Yammer will improve SharePoint, or what value it will add for customers. It's just another tool in an increasingly chaotic Microsoft toolbox.


"So what improvements do you see Yammer bringing to SharePoint?" I asked Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud collaboration vendor Box, at a dinner in London last week for the opening of the vendor's European offices. It was a tongue-in-cheek question, of course, as the deal was merely rumored at the time, and Levie's take was hardly going to be complimentary. Today, we learn that the deal has been done, and it makes as little sense now as it had seemed to a week ago. Yammer would be the "weird stepchild" in Microsoft's line-up, Levie said then. Perhaps it would make sense as a companion to Skype, he later added, but the likelihood of Microsoft doing anything as sensible as putting the two together seems remote.

This afternoon, we learn from Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer that Yammer's 'viral adoption model' is a big part of the value that it brings. I don't see what exactly the long-term owner of Hotmail and recent acquirer of Skype still has to learn about viral adoption models, except that it must have realised by now that giving the product away for free is a key component. I'm sure Yammer's management are mighty relieved they no longer face the problem of how to monetize that viral adoption in a meaningful way. But if that's the core value that Yammer brings to the Office suite, then I would be mighty worried tonight if I were a Microsoft shareholder.

The reality is that this is just the latest in a long line of Microsoft attempts to look cool in social. It's as insipidly inspired as the 2009 announcement of Outlook Social Connector, which added a 'People Pane' to your inbox, provided you upgraded to SharePoint 2010, downloaded the third-party connectors into the likes of Facebook, and successfully persuaded your IT department to install them for you. Good luck with that.

At least acquiring Yammer signals that Microsoft has realised its in-house skills at engineering this type of effortless social synchronization leave a lot to be desired. But beyond a happy end to the story for Yammer and a short-term boost to Microsoft's social cred and stock price, I can't see how this deal adds value for Microsoft customers. It's just another tool in an increasingly disparate and disjointed toolbox. The only saving grace is that, following the recent demise of the Windows Live brand, we won't have to endure it being rebranded 'Microsoft Windows Live Yammer'.

Topics: Windows, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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  • Well they couldn't make it worse!

    But seriously, yes potentially it could, but I suspect that from a tech and business perspective Microsoft hasn't got the appetite to do what they really need to do. More of my off the cuff analysis here... http://www.diversity.net.nz/microsoft-buys-yammer-a-two-minute-analysis/2012/06/25/
  • Nothing can help SharePoint

    Itz huge, unwieldy and costs way too much all the while being extremely ugly and hard to use. And it costs 7x it's competitors, locks you in to Microsoft and is unreliable.
    • STFU

      Does this site look huge and unwieldly? Is it ugly and hard to use? http://www.ferrari.com

      It is running SharePoint.
      Your Non Advocate
      • Disingenuous

        You know that he was talking about it from a developer's perspective, not an end user. Don't be a jerk.
        • Assuming

          You assumed he was talking about it from a developer's perspective. A few areas of the OP comment could be taken either way, "extremely ugly and hard to use." which states "use" which could be understood from the end-user perspective. Then, "is unreliable." which is more likely an opinion from a user standpoint. Who would notice something being 'unreliable' except for a user? To insinuate YNA could be a jerk in this situation is not logical. Afterall, he may have simply read it differently than you.
  • It'll be as good as

    all the other social networking crap being promoted by other bloggers on this site.

    As for Sharepoint, I've been using MS Small Business Server for years and each version keeps getting better and it's always maintained a significant lead over other providers. It's slick, professional and it works, which is more than can be said for the others.
  • Why not ask an existing customer

    Why not ask an existing Office365 customer that is using Yammer. You could be like itguy10 that has never used SharePoint or Yammer, or you can get a knowledgeable answer. With millions of customers, it is not that hard to find one that will give you their perspective.
    Your Non Advocate
  • I kind of like the Outlook Social Connector...

    And I don't believe Microsoft has "missed" the social boat with SharePoint... the integrated components of Outlook, Lync, and SharePoint can bring together quite a bit of what an enterprise would require of social capabilities. Sure, it has to be designed effectively, but that's because Microsoft has an open platform that can be extended in any number of areas depending on the requirements. SharePoint out of the box is limited in social features, but they are capable of being implemented.

    Yammer gives them a stand alone cloud solution, with limited SharePoint integration, and a slew of talented engineers to help them improve that integration as well as core features. I think it's an excellent acquisition on those merits alone.