Is Microsoft's social enterprise bet paying off?

Moderated by Larry Dignan | March 17, 2014 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Yammer is getting integrated ever more deeply into the Office experience. Dion Hinchcliffe and Eileen Brown debate its progress and prospects.

Dion Hinchcliffe

Dion Hinchcliffe

Yes

or

No

Eileen Brown

Eileen Brown

Best Argument: Yes

74%
26%

Audience Favored: Yes (74%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Microsoft using ecosystem and SharePoint installed base to make Yammer a leader

Dion Hinchcliffe: While some scratched their heads when Microsoft acquired a competing enterprise social tool, the latest product roadmap shows how SharePoint and Yammer will not only co-habitate but leverage key strengths from each other. Key to this strategy is that Yammer was "born social" and it's generally a cleaner, more user-friendly product for social-style workforce collaboration. Growth data from Yammer itself is strong, adding millions of new customers in the last year.

Also key is the addition of compelling new integration features such as enhanced groups that allow enterprises to create a group once that can then be used across Yammer, Outlook or SharePoint. This will create a highly desirable seamless social environment in Microsoft shops across their top communication and collaboration platforms. It will also allow cross-over growth from one platform to the other.

Yammer - still the Microsoft outsider for social business collaboration

Eileen Brown: Yammer has been well and truly absorbed by Microsoft after its acquisition last year. But is it the big Enterprise success that Microsoft hopes for?

Sure, it has been deeply integrated into Office 365 -- but not SharePoint -- which is still the tool for collaboration in the Enterprise. SharePoint still has its own social feed, search and document management features which stand apart from Yammer’s offering. Lync has been tightly integrated into SharePoint from early Office Communications Server days and has most of the features that Yammer has.

So why has Lync, the enterprise collaboration product been pushed aside for this new acquisition? Less than 20 percent of Microsoft’s own staff currently use Yammer regularly to collaborate. I think the company will struggle to get other Enterprises to adopt Yammer when it knows that its own internal social business strategy still has a long way to go.

Talkback

11 comments
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  • Microsoft's social enterprise bet - way late & mis-directed

    Microsoft's social enterprise approach is way late and is focused on where the market was a few years ago, where "social enterprise" solutions are deployed as the next step in collaboration or office productivity solutions. Beginning in early 2013, a substantial number of influential industry analysts have indicated that "social networking," while valuable and providing substantive returns, have sustained success when it is integrated into existing enterprise processes, and not just a next step in a "collaboration solution" deployment. As an example, enterprises that have integrated social functionality into sales processes have documented substantial revenue and sales efficiency increases, by enabling their sales processes with social capabilities that better connect sales people to their clients and to their peers.
    Don N
    Reply 59 Votes I'm for No
    • References?

      Don, do you have references for this: "enterprises that have integrated social functionality into sales processes have documented substantial revenue and sales efficiency increases"
      MungoGrubb
      Reply 63 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Yeah ...

        I'm wondering who the "influential" industry analysts are, and how they get rated influential. That way I can filter out those who aren't, and pay attention only to the "substantial number" of them who are really worth my reading time. By the way, when are the Peoples Choice Awards for "Best Industry Analyst - Influential" going to be held this year?
        JimmyKil
        Reply 63 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Oh ... and Also ...

        Since SharePoint's more well baked "social enterprise solutions" really were conceived in 2007, then developed into the SharePoint 2010 release (and separately, Yammer came into being around then), that would say the Microsoft and Yammer we ahead of their time being now in existence or on the design table for the last 7 years. So, I'm wondering, how come the "substantial number of influential industry analysts" just started pontificating about in last year? Hmmmmmmmm ... who's REALLY late here?
        JimmyKil
        Reply 54 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Don't bother worrying about Don

      He's just a MS hater/troll trying to sow additional FUD.
      dinomutt
      Reply 55 Votes I'm Undecided
  • Microsoft Enterprise Social Network On Target & Market Leading

    In my experience, and what I am seeing in the field, Microsoft is right on target with their enterprise social network focus. It's been about 1.5 years since the purchase and Yammer is now integrated across all of Microsoft's business applications. That's a pretty amazing feat for the largest software company on the planet. Think of how many applications have been subsumed by companies like Oracle, IBM, SAP and others. The vast majority sync into an odd netherworld of shadows of their former glory. Yammer, on the other hand, is seeing massive and increasing adoption across companies both large and small.

    That's not to say it hasn't been a little confusing along the way. The direction now is clear. The "social" aspects of SharePoint will continue to be replaced by Yammer while at the same time be expanded to even tighter and more seamless integration with the rest of the Microsoft eco-sphere. And where it makes sense, applications like Lync will improve the IM and presence capabilities of Yammer...the best of both worlds. Add true document collaboration through Office 365 and you have a very powerful and productive platform.

    Even more encouraging, I believe Adam Pisoni (Yammer CTO/Co-Founder) is leading a very positive effect on how Microsoft approaches software development and innovation. Microsoft has gone "all in" with the cloud and are speeding development and application updates across all applications. From Office, to ERP, to CRM we are seeing some truly amazing experience focused enhancements that are bringing more value and increased ROI to those companies using them. Microsoft has a bright future from where I sit.
    mhammons
    Reply 50 Votes I'm for Yes
  • Don't Discount the K

    No one should discount the knowledge that MS gained from acquiring Yammer (as a product and employees). Together, with a highly knowledgeable SP team, they have a strong understanding of the market and its needs.

    Anyone who says the train has already left the station does not truly know the current status of Social Business. I know a lot of F500 companies that are still struggling to implement platforms and change culture. Most SMBs are only starting. Until email is completely replaced their will always be opportunities for Yammer/MS.
    joelkline
    Reply 38 Votes I'm for Yes
    • correction

      I meant "...there will always be opportunities for Yammer/MS."
      :)
      joelkline
      Reply 30 Votes I'm Undecided
  • Microsoft has focus on people and org change as well as the technology

    Disclaimer: I'm obviously in the 'yes' camp, given I run the Yammer Customer Success organization :)

    @Dion, just wanted to address the point about our focus on the "vital cultural and organizational issues involved in driving results for the social enterprise", the importance of the human element and Microsoft's focus on that.

    I totally agree that this is significant in making a lasting business impact and working differently. Microsoft do quite a few things in this space that I'd be happy to talk to you further about as I'm interested in what more we can be doing:

    - There's a Customer Success organization that focuses on coaching customers on the transformation required. We focus on the business and not the technology. All Yammer customers get access to the Customer Success Program. More information about what it is can be found at https://about.yammer.com/services/

    - We're supporting movements that are all about the larger scale changes to how work works, like the Responsive Organization (www.theresponsiveorg.com)

    - We also offer more in-depth services around adoption and change management if needed through the Microsoft services organization and through our partners.

    - If you're interested in more about how the Customer Success team works, we've written a few articles about it here: http://www.medium.com/customer-success

    Hope this helps and I'd love the opportunity to connect to discuss further, I'm sure our customers would as well.
    mgrafham
    Reply 40 Votes I'm for Yes
  • This "social business" crap

    Is exactly that.
    Retterdyne
    Reply 18 Votes I'm for No