How Microsoft is using Yammer inside the company

How Microsoft is using Yammer inside the company

Summary: Microsoft bought Yammer last summer and already has deployed the technology widely in-house as part of the company's Intranet makeover.


Microsoft officials have discussed publicly the company's planned timeline for integrating its Yammer enterprise social-networking technology with products like SharePoint.


Now they're also starting to talk about how Microsoft employees themselves are using Yammer inside the company.

Several recent blog posts on Microsoft's Enterprise site are highlighting Microsoft's "Next Generation Intranet" project, in which Yammer now seems to be playing a starring role.

Here's the back story: Microsoft's IT department realized the company's Intranet was more of a one-way communication vehicle (broadcasting from management to the masses) than a true, two-way one, company officials said. They also found the self-provisioning of SharePoint sites inside the company was leading to duplication of effort and a costly duplication of services, like search, social, video, etc. To give a sense of scale, Microsoft has more than 170,000 full-time employees plus contractors; 360,000 distribution lists and more than 200,000 SharePoint sites with about 30 terabytes of content distributed among three data centers, according to a post on the Microsoft Enterprise blog.

A make-over was needed. The plan took on an admittedly lofty working name of "Next-generation Intranet." Microsoft made some tweaks around the SharePoint My Sites to accommodate aggregated social feeds, profiles, search and recommendations as part of internal dogfooding of SharePoint 2013.

And then Microsoft bought enterprise social-networking vendor Yammer in June 2012.

The Microsoft IT team looked at how Yammer employees were collaborating and "compared notes with the product teams and others in the industry." The team identified four ways Yammer brought value to collaboration and engagement scenarios. And it came up with some guidance as to when it makes sense to use SharePoint with/vs. Yammer.

From a guest post on the "Office of the CIO" blog by Chris Slemp, principal solutions manager and Certified Yammer Administrator, in Microsoft IT:

"What we’re providing with a combination of SharePoint Online and Yammer is a set of options that vary a little in complexity, depending on their needs. If they’re working largely on their own deliverable and just need to share it with just a few individuals or broadly, we’ve encouraged employees to think of 'share as the new save' and to store their docs in SkyDrive Pro, a new feature of SharePoint 2013. Since broad availability in October 2012, we’ve seen growth in SkyDrive Pro usage to 95,000 personal sites.

"Employees that need to collaborate now have two options: a SharePoint Online site (which already number 18,000 and growing) or a Yammer group. Teams that rely primarily on document management features favor SharePoint sites, and those teams that are more focused on the conversations lean toward Yammer groups. Increasingly, we are providing options of embedding Yammer feeds into SharePoint sites for people that want a mixture of the two."

Microsoft is in the midst of making Yammer the news feed inside SharePoint for Office 365/SharePoint customers, not just its own employees, as officials have acknowledged. That integration is happening this summer, Microsoft officials have said, and is likely to be part of a June/July Office 365 update.

Microsoft's IT department came up with some other internal guidance, too. The IT team is "encouraging mobile employees to use the Yammer application for Windows Phone 8 so they can check their main feed, then just swipe over to view and interact with their groups." It also is enabling Yammer external networks, so that Microsoft employees can collaborate with people outside the Microsoft Yammer network. (Some of these networks are sponsored by Microsoft for use in collaborating with customers and partners). The team also is planning to enable external sharing via SharePoint Online, primarily for project teams with heavy document management needs, according to the blog post.

"Our goal is to balance collaboration and IT control, which SharePoint Online does for us. It helps reduce the risk of employees posting high-business impact and medium-business impact materials on consumer online services like SkyDrive and DropBox," the post noted.

Microsoft used Yammer internally to keep its employees connected (and from Tweeting or Facebooking externally) information around its most recent company meeting. During the course of that meeting, "we saw more than 9,000 posts by 2,700 unique individuals during the 6-hour event," said Slemp.

The latest internal count: There are 94,000 Yammer accounts inside Microsoft, with 17,000 "engaged" users and about 25,000 messages posted per week.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, IT Priorities, Microsoft, IT Policies


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • 174,000 employees?

    When did that increase happen? Last time I checked it was 90,000.
    • That Number Includes

      Independent contractors who are hired and let go as they are needed.
      • In actuality those contractors

        are treated as slaves.

        no insurance (or a joke of insurance), no benefits, often elbow to elbow desk space. Mostly H1B monkeys, because those can be treated like dirt because end of contract means no legal status.

        Monkeysoft is a slave sweatshop, their "products" prove it.
        • Ashlyn. I see what you mean... Mario`s bl0g is nice,

          Ashlyn. I see what you mean... Mario`s bl0g is nice, I just bought Ariel Atom since getting a check for $5484 this - 4 weeks past and-a little over, $10 thousand last-munth. this is certainly the most rewarding I've ever had. I began this 3 months ago and almost straight away started bringing in at least $70 per-hr. , ,, >>
        • Please troll someplace else "patrickco"

          That's funny, as you just described how contractors at Google and Apple are treated.

          Was that a mistake on your part, or are you forced to start making stuff like this up in desperation?
          William Farrel
          • William they treat Loverock Davidson in the same way?

            He's just SSSSOOOOOOO special one has to wonder now, don't they?
            Over and Out
        • When I was a contract worker, I didn't expect to get any company benefits

          from the company which "allowed" me to serve them.

          Remember that, a contractor is someone who is doing work for a second party, where that party is the boss, and that boss can hire your services, and fire your a-zz for non-performance, and without you having any recourse, other than crying foul.

          Now, how many other companies treat their "contractors" and H1b employees any different from how Microsoft does it?

          When a contractor seeks to work on his own, it's expected that, he will be the one providing for his own benefits, which then makes it incumbent on him to make sure that he is seeking enough compensation to pay for his own benefits.

          If a contractor used to make 60k per year, then he better be seeking a contract which pays him around 80-90k in order to make up for the benefits which he lost. However, that person should not have left the more secure job if he's going to be content with getting comparable compensation by being a contractor. Otherwise, someone who can't hack it in the contract field, should remain a full-time employee.
        • Contractors

          Based on your comments, one would be obliged to believe you are one of those contractors, or H1B monkeys. Otherwise, where do you get your information?
  • Past, Present Future

    Many people still look and think of Microsoft focused on the past and oblivious to present endeavors. towards a shared vision of tomorrow. The transition from saving to sharing should be interesting and which I am trying to work on when using Win8.
  • Re: bhaitoqeer

    Mary Jo,

    Please edit the posts to delete SPAM like this.

    Thank you.
    • we have flagged the spam

      We have to wait for our admins to delete it now. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley