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




Eileen Brown

Eileen Brown

Best Argument: Yes


Audience Favored: Yes (74%)

Closing Statements

Exciting times ahead

Dion Hinchcliffe

While Eileen had some great points, especially around the ongoing IT demand for on-premise options for social enterprise, Yammer is clearly a major boost for Microsoft in making sure that it has a strong story for all of the big five IT trends of this decade (cloud, mobile, big data, consumerization, and of course, social.)

However, Microsoft still has to deliver on key parts of its social enterprise vision, especially seamless integration between its various communication and collaboration platforms (SharePoint, Office 365/Outlook, Yammer, Lync, etc.) Before this is achieved, the competing products have the potential to sow confusion and create analysis paralysis as users and IT shops both try to figure out which are the best tools for the jobs in any given situation. But I think that will be resolved soon enough.

In the end, taking into account Yammer's large installed base of 8M+ businesses and that it is an enterprise-ready, credible social tool that Microsoft is not likely to lose on its acquisition investment, there's not much risk or downside. As long as Microsoft follows through, they will have a scalable social enterprise solution for all businesses -- from the smallest SMBs to the largest enterprises -- that is also integrated into their larger enterprise solutions portfolio.

Ultimately, I give the successful blending of Yammer with the rest of Microsoft's products a high likelihood of success. So along with double-digit year-over-year growth, and the continued evolution of the product in exciting places like their application directory, I say Microsoft's social enterprise bet will indeed pay off.

Yammer: Great potential but needs more work

Eileen Brown

It is obvious that Microsoft has made a great decision in buying Yammer – and it makes good financial sense for Yammer to reside in the ‘cash cow’ business division there. But I believe that there will need to be more realignments of the Yammer brand before Microsoft can drive forward with its intentions for the enterprise social business. Yammer has several competitors snapping at its heels and if Microsoft takes its eye off the ball then it could lose valuable ground in the race to dominate the enterprise social business space.

Yammer as it is now will eventually transform into the Enterprise social product that Microsoft wants it to be. There will be iterations and changes in the product as Microsoft moulds it into its idea of what an Enterprise social software product should be – whether in the cloud or on premise. Hopefully the Yammer of the future will still resemble the Yammer we know and love now. Hopefully it will not lose its social identity and value as it becomes fully integrated -- and shaped -- by the by the business division it now belongs to.

Win by a smidge

Larry Dignan

This debate was tough to call as both Eileen and Dion really made some good points and framed their arguments well. Reading both sides of the debate was informative. Overall, I'll go with the crowd and give Dion the win by a smidge.


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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"
      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?
        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?
        Reply 54 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Don't bother worrying about Don

      He's just a MS hater/troll trying to sow additional FUD.
      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.
    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.
    Reply 38 Votes I'm for Yes
    • correction

      I meant "...there will always be opportunities for Yammer/MS."
      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

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

    - 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:

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

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