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Yammer and SharePoint: Enterprise social roadmap update

[please check our updated roadmap published on June 25, 2013: Advancing the enterprise social roadmap ]

Today’s post comes from Jared Spataro, Senior Director, Microsoft Office Division. Jared leads the SharePoint business, and he works closely with Adam Pisoni and David Sacks on Yammer integration.

At last November’s SharePoint Conference, we announced our roadmap for enterprise social and talked about three phases of Yammer integration: “basic integration, deeper connections, and connected experiences.”  (For more details, see the Putting Social to Work post I published just after the SPC keynote.)  Today at Convergence 2013 we provided an update to that roadmap, and I wanted to share the details more broadly. 

Yammer and Office 365.  During the Office keynote today, we demoed the integration of Yammer and Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  We shipped this update last month, and we love the scenario-social plus CRM is a natural fit.  But CRM integration is only one part of a broader set of work we’re doing to make Yammer the social layer across all of our products.  Our next step is integration with Office 365, and we’re now ready to share more details on what will be available when.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Basic Integration. This summer we’ll update the Office 365 service and allow customers to replace the SharePoint newsfeed with Yammer. Many customers are worried about confusing their users with two different feeds, and this update will allow them to simply replace the “Newsfeed” link on the Office 365 global navigation bar with a link to Yammer.com. We’ll also ship a Yammer app in the SharePoint Store so that end users can easily embed a Yammer group feed into a SharePoint site, creating a connection between groups and sites that will deliver the best of both worlds. The SharePoint newsfeed will continue to be the default social experience in Office 365, but the option to replace it with Yammer will be a valuable first step in the overall integration process.
  • Deeper Connections. This fall we’ll deliver another update to Office 365 and deepen the integration. Customers will still have the option of choosing between Yammer and the SharePoint newsfeed, but this new, integrated Yammer experience will offer Single Sign-On (SSO) and seamless navigation. In other words, when you click on the Yammer link in the Office 365 global navigation bar, Yammer will appear immediately below with the navigation to get back to Office 365 services such as Outlook and Sites. You will also see the user experiences of Yammer and Office 365 begin to converge (see the concept mock below to get a directional sense). This new Yammer experience will also offer rich document capabilities, integrating the Office Web Apps to add editing and co-editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents.  

  • Connected Experiences. As we move into 2014, we’ll continue updating Office 365 with new social enhancements roughly every 90 days. We’ll start by simply deepening the connections between Yammer and Office 365 services, but over time these incremental enhancements will combine social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video, and line of business applications in innovative new ways. This is an exciting time and a hot space, and I can’t wait to share more about our plans in the future.

Yammer and SharePoint Server.  Now of course we recognize that a lot of SharePoint customers are still on-premises.  They’re working on their upgrade plans and want to find a way to connect their Yammer network with their on-premises deployment of SharePoint 2013.  So as part of the summer update, we’ll also provide guidance for replacing the SharePoint newsfeed on-premises with Yammer.  The Yammer app in the SharePoint Store will be a valuable addition, allowing customers to create connections between Yammer groups and on-premises SharePoint sites.  While we don’t plan on delivering updates for SharePoint Server every 90 days, many of the enhancements to the Yammer service described above will still be valuable in this scenario.  The SSO, updated UX, seamless navigation, and Office Web App integration will all deepen the connections between your Yammer network and your on-premises SharePoint deployment. 

What should I do?  In my customer meetings over the last few months, people have often asked, “What should I use for social?  Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?”  My answer has been clear: Go Yammer!  Yammer is our big bet for enterprise social, and we’re committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products.  It will power the social experiences in SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics, and more.   Yammer’s unique adoption model appeals directly to end users and makes it easy to start enjoying the benefits of social immediately.  And because it’s an online service, Yammer gives us the ability to innovate rapidly-updating the service quickly as the market evolves.  So whether you’re an Office 365 customer or running SharePoint on-premises, Yammer will provide the latest innovations and best user experience.

What if I just can’t use Yammer?  For all my exuberance about Yammer, I recognize that some organizations just don’t feel comfortable with multi-tenant cloud services.  For these customers, our guidance is to use the SharePoint newsfeed.  It provides rich social features integrated with a broad set of SharePoint capabilities.  While the cloud lowers the barriers to adoption and allows for more frequent updates, we get that some customers just aren’t ready to make the move.  (Some customers, in fact, are adamant that they’ll NEVER move to a multi-tenant service.)  When it comes to the cloud, we’re “all in,” but we’re also realistic.  We have a large on-premises installed base that’s important to us, and we’re committed to future releases of the server.

Acquisitions can be tricky business, but we’re extremely pleased with our progress so far.  Yammer has continued to innovate and grow their standalone business, and the packaging and pricing changes we announced at the SharePoint Conference last year have made the Yammer service more accessible than ever before.  But the most exciting thing for me is that we’re just getting started.  Today’s roadmap update provides a little more insight into how we’re planning to integrate Yammer with Office 365 and SharePoint.  But we’re out to change the world, and there’s much more to come. 

Join the conversation

22 comments
  1. Very exciting and happy to read this. Internally, we’ve seen lots of benefits of moving to Yammer on top of our existing SharePoint deployment, and integration to Dynamics CRM is great step to the future of embedding conversations where people do work.

    As an ISV, we are excited because we just launched our machine learning recommendations app for Yammer (Synxi), as well as our existing app for SharePoint, so being able to cross contextualize the learning more easily for on prem customers and having deeper connections between both platforms is fantastic.

    For large organizations who are not on SP2013, I think it’s important to remember that Yammer does have existing integration points with SP2010 and SP2007 already, so you are not being left behind and can transition when the time is right for your organization.

  2. Two things you need to figure out for the on-premise integration.

    How will you handle search? The social feeds will contain tons of information that will be valuable for searching.

    With the SharePoint newsfeed that is built on SharePoint lists, we can access the raw data to calculate and analyze things that we are interested in. When stuff is put in the cloud, we need API’s to get access to the data so that we can do things you guys don’t care enough about or don’t prioritize.

    • Federated search is available right now with Yammer and SP2010 to show the search results side by side in SP2010. These features have been out for a while, and is exactly why I speak at SharePoint conferences about the Yammer/SharePoint integration topic, because very few people realize how much can be done already (and prior to the MSFT acquisition).

      I will be very interested to read further updates from the product team in the summer, when the on prem newsfeed in SP2013 can be replaced by your organization’s Yammer activity.

      • Well, if your customer accepts displaying the results side by side, you can do it. But if they want all the results in a single stream containing data from SharePoint libraries, Yammer feeds, old file shares and SAP, you have a challenge. They may want to boost the relevancy of content from one source over another.

        With Microsoft’s move to put everything in the cloud, chances are very slim that they will make an on-premise version of Yammer. The product teams need to come up with a solution that allows content both on-premise and in the cloud to be searched in a unified way.

      • After the initial release of the Yammer app for SharePoint, we will apply Yammer’s data-driven approach to measure and learn from the interactions across all users of the Yammer app and enhance the experience with additional capabilities such as Federated search for instance.

  3. Wait. What?
    **"Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?" My answer has been clear: Go Yammer!**

    Please give us more details on how this incorporates with the SharePoint 2013 key feature: Social? SharePoint 2013 has been revamped with all the Social features (Newsfeed, Hash-Tags, Following) – how does that play together with Yammer? I’m not against Yammer, I really just don’t know how this strategy plays together with the new SharePoint features. This is a key feature we have been telling our customers about. Now we need to tell them: "Hold your horses, wait for Yammer integration".

  4. Another issue I have with the whole social system in SharePoint is that it’s very locked in by how Microsoft wants it to look and feel; it’s not very extensible. You either do it the Microsoft way or forget about it.

    The locked in, non extensible approach is something I’m seeing many places in the product. This is one of the biggest mistakes Microsoft is doing on the platform. Microsoft can never ever make a system that will satisfy all users. Third party developers are the ones that fill the gap between what Microsoft can deliver and what the customer really wants.

    What will the developer and extensibility story be on Yammer? Take it or leave it?

    I don’t know how many times I’ve been in client meetings discussing some trivial piece of functionality, just to say ‘It’s not possible; it’s SharePoint’. Great feeling to give the customer when they spent a truckload of money on their SharePoint installation.

  5. The painfully slow release cycle of SharePoint has been a historic problem for social features since 2007. Even today It took over six months just to get a public "yes, we are integrating Yammer." Snore. The 90 day release cycle for Office 365 is GREAT news for social and Yammer! I LOVE Office 365! I love the new support efforts and updates!

  6. Generally speaking this is a good news for me. Yammer is definitely better platform for enterprise social. However, I’ve one open question: How will SharePoint’s robust user rights and security trimming work with Yammers notifications, likes and comments? SharePoint is security-first and Yammer is not. Do I need to have one Yammer group per SharePoint security container (site collection, site, list, list item) having unique user rights? Will Yammer and SP sync access rights automatically?

    • Ari, you are correct about the two different approaches with regards to permissions. Customers today typically have a Yammer group map to a SharePoint team site or community.

  7. Good progress on CRM and a pragmatic path for Office 365 and on-premise SharePoint. I like the Office Web App integration – very bullish on "collaborative content creation".

  8. Just use Newsgator Social Sites with Sharepoint. Yammers gonna get hammered. :)

  9. For regulated businesses and large enterprise customers, the idea of integrating Yammer with an on premise instance of SharePoint makes no sense. Why would you want to create another silo for collaboration this is outside of your SharePoint investment, and outside your firewall? There are a lot of companies that have shut down access to Yammer due to security and governance concerns.

    As far as SP2013 on premise goes, using the out of the box social capabilities will not provide a best of breed experience. If it did, Microsoft wouldn’t be encouraging people to use Yammer rather than what it built for SP2013.

    Companies that are serious about social collaboration and that have SharePoint on-premise can get a ton of value from their SP investment by using a proven, secured and well functioning integration model from partners like NewsGator. This is why Microsoft made them partner of the year 2011, because it works at the enterprise level.

  10. If you’re looking for the value in enterprise social by connecting people through content and collaboration, check out Bloomfire.

  11. Most of the tools and approaches to social in enterprises do not directly address the actual work. They just create a channel that does not fit into Email or Phone. I think you need to use social features where they really fit. Combining it with SharePoint and the right methodology makes a real win for users. Check out KanBo – this is perfect example how social can substitute old ways of communication inside of an organization. (www.kan.bo)

  12. The real Power of Enterprise Social Media is when is it supports and enhances ACTUAL WORK. There is still very little being discussed here that adds any value to actual work. Q&A, Employee Recognition, Ideation, Knowledge Bases, Integration with LOB System (PeopleSoft, SAP), A News Feed does NOT "true" Enterprise Social make.

    • Shawn have you looked at the customer successes on Yammer and use cases? https://www.yammer.com/customers/ For social listening we are very excited about the NetBreeze acquisition last month, stay tune for more info.

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