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Work like a network! Enterprise social and the future of work

Jared Spataro is the General Manager of Enterprise Social at Microsoft.

As customers gather this week for the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas and Convergence in Atlanta, I want to update you on our enterprise social vision and road map—including several new announcements.

The world has become a giant network

Over the last few years, the world has become a giant network, and social media has rewired the way we connect with people and information. Today we build relationships with family and friends on Facebook, get breaking news from the other side of the world on Twitter, and find our next big break on LinkedIn. Indeed, the old saying still holds: It’s not just what you know but also who you know that matters. And in 2014, technology makes connecting with others, building relationships, and sharing information easier than ever before.

But the great apps and services that have changed our personal lives haven’t yet found their way into the office (at least, not in a consistent way). So we’re excited to introduce an integrated set of social, collaboration, and communication technologies that enable companies to work like a network—using the concepts that have changed our personal lives to transform the way we work. By tapping into the human networks that make a business tick, companies can listen to the conversations that matter most, adapt to an increasingly volatile market, and grow in ways never before possible.

Today, more than 400,000 companies worldwide are already using Yammer to work in this way, and in the remainder of this post I’ll explain how we’re extending this network effect to users of Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics, and virtually any other app, service, or line-of-business applications that matter to your company.

Laying the foundation

We’ve always believed that enterprise social should be woven into the way people already work, so that the power of human networks (from inside and outside a company) is available to help people get their jobs done—anywhere and on any device. Over the past two years, we’ve been busy laying the foundation for this approach with a number of strategic investments:

  • In February 2013, we integrated Yammer into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, allowing users to participate in social conversations, share important data, and follow updates without ever leaving the CRM application. In the spring 2014 release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’ll further enhance our customer-facing enterprise social capabilities by delivering a comprehensive set of new social listening, marketing, and service desk capabilities.
  • In November 2013, we announced the inclusion of Yammer Enterprise with all Office 365 Enterprise plans. This spring, Yammer Enterprise will also be included with the Office 365 Academic and Office 365 Midsize Business plans.
  • Last month, we released simplified login to Yammer from Office 365, in which Office 365 users are mapped to Yammer accounts. Now, when you click on Yammer from your Office 365 global navigation bar, there is no need to re-authenticate. This summer, we’ll surface the Office 365 navigation bar in Yammer, enabling unified navigation across Office 365.
  • Last week, we released SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which makes it easy to connect an on-premises SharePoint deployment with an in-the-cloud Yammer network.

Enterprise social and the future of work

But a foundation is good only if you build something interesting on top of it. And today we’re announcing three new social experiences designed to help companies work like a network.

Creating the Office Graph. First, we’re extending Yammer’s concept of the Enterprise Graph across Office 365 to create something we’re calling the Office Graph. When we acquired Yammer, one of the things we loved about the technology was how it mapped the relationships between people and information by simply recording likes, posts, replies, shares, and uploads. In what I think is a game-changing move, we’re extending this idea to Office broadly, using signals from email, social conversations, documents, sites, instant messages, meetings, and more to map the relationships between the people and things that make your business go. Just as consumer social networks connect you to people and information you’d otherwise never be able to keep up with, the Office Graph will plug you into the very fabric that makes your organization work.

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The Office Graph maps the relationships among people and information.

Delve (formerly codename Oslo for a brand new app) is the first application to help people put the Office Graph to work, delivering personalized insights and connecting the dots to help people get their jobs done. By tapping into the Office Graph, Delve provides a natural way for users to navigate, discover, and search people and information across an organization.

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Office Graph insights surface through Oslo.

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Learn more about your colleagues and their content.

Extending the Groups Experience. Next, we’re extending one of Yammer’s most powerful user experiences to the rest of Office 365. Broad posts are a fine way to make announcements or solicit feedback from across your company, but over the years Yammer found that the value of enterprise social goes up exponentially when people organize themselves into smaller groups focused on a specific process or deliverable. This simple Groups Experience is so powerful, in fact, that we’re making it a cross-Office 365 concept that will unify people, profiles, conversations, email, calendars, and files across the entire set of Office 365 applications. Creating a group anywhere in Office 365 will automatically provision a corresponding inbox, social feed, calendar, and document library that group members can use to get the job done. The group’s Yammer feed and inbox will both display the same conversation, so users who are more comfortable in Yammer can participate in the group through the feed, and users who prefer email can participate in the group through the inbox. And, just like in Yammer, groups are open by default to enhance discoverability and sharing.  But to be clear, groups can be made private as necessary. Transparency and openness can be incredibly powerful, but we recognize that privacy and access control haven’t entirely gone out of style.

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Group social feed in Yammer

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Group inbox in Outlook Web App

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Group calendar (green) viewed alongside personal calendar

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Group document library

Creating Inline Social Experiences. Finally, we’re weaving social into the apps that matter most by creating Inline Social Experiences in Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics, and any other app, service, or line-of-business system that is important to your business. We’re adding Yammer conversations to documents in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business; we’re making it easy to post updates, documents, and emails to Yammer from SharePoint Online and Outlook; and we’re continuing to enhance the integrated social capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In the future, we’ll integrate Yammer with Lync and Skype to enable a full spectrum of social interactions, from asynchronous posts to audio and video. We’re committed to helping you put your networks to work naturally—with integrated experiences that put people and information at your fingertips, anywhere and on any device.

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You can now see Yammer conversations side by side with PowerPoint Online presentations and other documents.

So, what should I do now?

Over the last 18 months, I’ve had a chance to talk with a lot of customers and partners about our enterprise social strategy, and my discussions have generally focused on two big action-oriented questions: (1) What about SharePoint social? and (2) What should I do now? So to close out this post, I want to respond to both questions and tie our announcements today to next steps.

What about SharePoint social? We shipped basic social features with SharePoint Server 2013, and over the last year and a half I’ve had many people ask me whether they should implement SharePoint social or Yammer. My guidance has been clear and consistent: Go Yammer! While we’re committed to another on-premises release of SharePoint Server—and we’ll maintain its social capabilities—we don’t plan on adding new social features. Our investments in social will be focused on Yammer and Office 365, so that we can innovate quickly and take advantage of the viral user adoption that is so important to the natural network effect that makes social so powerful. We recognize that many of our SharePoint customers will continue to have large on-premises deployments for many years, but we’re investing to help customers easily manage hybrid environments so that they can connect their on-premises farms to their in-the-cloud social network.

What should I do now? A lot of people have assumed that our enterprise social strategy was simply to “add Yammer feeds to SharePoint” or “unify identity and profiles for Yammer and SharePoint.” While we’re absolutely doing these things (and many more like them), I’m pleased that our enterprise social strategy—as articulated above—is much more than just a collection of the obvious. We have lofty ambitions and are aiming to literally change the way people get things done at work. And to do that, we’ve taken a step back and tried to capture the essence of how social has rewired the world—how it has reshaped the way we connect with the people and information that make the world go ‘round. These new innovations—the Office Graph, Office 365 Groups, and Inline Social Experiences—are important steps in realizing our vision. So what should you do now? That’s easy! Start working like a network today by joining Yammer—and then add additional social capabilities, from Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics, as they become available throughout 2014 and as you and your organization solidify your own enterprise social strategy.

So there you have it. The world has become a giant network. And now is the time for you and your company to start working like one. Looking forward to the journey together!

Jared Spataro, #worklikeanetwork

Join the conversation

6 comments
  1. I just saw your Keynote online from the SharePoint Conference, and as cloud partner, Adactit is building our business on helping customers change the way they work with Office365 and Yammer.

    I am thrilled, excited and very happy to see how fast you have understood the real value of Social and are utilizing Yammer, and the knowledge you have gained from Yammer to integrate Yammer into all these collaboration products and create a different productivity experience.

    Yammer has already changed the way we work and many of our clients, and “Oslo” & The Office Graph has the potential from what you have shared, to take this social experience to a next level.

    We are ready to help more customers Work like a Network – and can’t wait to use all your innovation to create more innovation and stronger collaboration with our clients.

  2. First things first: Great keynote and great announcements today, kudos to the Office, Office 365 and Yammer teams.

    There’s plenty of new features and functionality that can aid in changing the way organizations work. With these new tools and features available in Office 365, clients may get over the threshold a bit easier. Social intranets have become popular, and with these extended features I predict that it will be easier for them to adapt and adopt.

    I’m not surprised that on-premises will not be prioritized for the social features, but it’s another step in the cloud-first direction set forth by Microsoft, which I love.

    “Work from anywhere, on any device” – quickly becoming a reality.

    Great announcements, Microsoft.
    / Tob.

  3. I saw the upcoming enhancements and think it’s a “bulls eye” and so right to rethink the group concept into a broader capability spanning Yammer, SharePoint, Outlook.and more. This will definately be a huge step in the direction of getting employees to adopt the way of working as a network. I also look forward to the unification of profiles and identification/presence across the MS products.
    Thanks a lot for the insights today, I did not expect to see these capabilities, so that was a pleasant surprise.

    Best regards
    Christian Skjaeran
    Digital Workplace Manager, Chr. Hansen A/S
    dkcsk@chr-hansen.com – @cskjaeran – http://www.chr-hansen.com

  4. Jared, this is exciting news. Love the deeper integration of Yammer into the MS toolset. Working social will be the way that work gets done. Great stuff, and keep it going!

    Regards, Ira Gottlieb
    President, NuWave Communications

  5. Jared – Love the “Work Like a Network” perspective. I’d like to interview you for a book I’m writing The Gen Z Effect:How the Hyperconnected Generation is Changing Business Forever. Specific focus on Yammer and the recent Office Graph announcement. Please reach out to me by email at tk@delphigroup.com. I’m on an April 1st deadline. – thanks

  6. A great vision for sure, but I would like to see some detail on any thought you have put into how organizations in heavily regulated industries will be able to use these products. For example encryption at rest, compliance, records management and eDiscovery.; if this will require hybrid on prem / cloud solutions then so be it, but extending the vision and sharing it would be very helpful.

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