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Realizing Measurable Value with Your Yammer Network

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Streaming It Out Loud - Yammer Work Out Loud

Joe Stumpf at Microsoft Office 365 Customer Success is the co-author.

Realizing measurable business value from technology requires considerably more than simply deploying a piece of software, a system or even a platform: it requires a commitment to driving adoption of these capabilities throughout your organization. IT departments around the world have been dancing around the issue of adoption by focusing efforts on things like user experience in the hopes that if they make a tool easier to use, their business users will do just that. Unfortunately, that model – reminiscent of the plot of the movie “Field of Dreams” – usually fails to produce the dramatic results that the C-suite is seeking. The reason for this failure is simple: driving adoption is a multi-faceted journey that requires transformation of the way in which people get work done. Sounds pretty difficult, right? Don’t despair – it’s a lot more achievable than you may think.

The social journey (a term Microsoft uses to describe the methodology of realizing value from its enterprise social platform) at ManyWorlds began 4.5 years ago when Yammer was still in its infancy and yet demonstrated its power to change how work is done and how information flows in the organization. That was the beginning of the “connected age”, a time when access to information is basically instant and ubiquitous. Today, our world and your organization are part of a giant network where everyone has access to anyone and everything. There are almost no barriers to publishing or consuming information at any scale. This has created tremendous opportunities for some, but has also created tremendous challenges for companies that still believe that they can make a plan today based on the information they have, and simply execute on that plan.

We know now that that’s not working: industries and markets are changing too quickly for us to focus solely on the ways that have worked in the past. As a longtime Microsoft Partner whose tools and techniques have helped tens of thousands of users adopt Yammer successfully, ManyWorlds’ specific expertise and experience is in embedding social into business processes to help organizations such as yours transform themselves and achieve measurable business value through technology such as Office 365.

You can find great information about the social journey, including best practices and templates in the Office 365 Success Center. The social journey is a big topic and we encourage you to dive deeply into the Office 365 Success Center materials. In order to help you along the way, we want to focus on a few key elements we’ve found to be critical for our customers’ success and will be important for you to address early in your own social journey.

Drive Executive Engagement and Sponsorship

One of the most critical elements of any social journey is getting your executives on board – visibly. Fundamentally, the social journey is about cultural change within your organization and your executives have the greatest influence on your culture. If they don’t participate and support your social journey – visibly – then you cannot realistically expect your employees to transform the way in which they work. The engagement and sponsorship you need from your executives is unlike any technology-related project in which they may have participated in the past. They need to walk the talk. At the same time, we know that executive engagement is often a challenge in organizations.

Over the years, we have found that C-Suite executives have been much more engaged when they have a tablet on their desk that allows them to consume and participate in ways that accommodate their hectic schedules and frantic lifestyles, such as streaming a CNN-like touch experience. In order to drive better executive engagement, we developed a Yammer app called Streaming It Out Loud, which allows executives to quickly see the heartbeat of the organization, as well as feel connected to what is top of mind for their employees. And of course it’s easy to have the stream set up on the tablet so that they can Like a post directly from the touch screen, comment on a conversation or praise one of their employee – even when traveling – which creates very effective engagement for the rest of the organization.

Stream Yammer Feed on Tablet for Exeuctive Engagement

As you think about engaging your executives, you should remember the ABC’s of executive engagement in the social journey:

  • Active and visible participation
  • Building a coalition with their executive peers
  • Communicating directly with employees

This type of executive engagement is critical when you are trying to drive cultural change and it’s also very easy to achieve with a bit of forethought and the right tools.

Stimulate Yammer Adoption & Engagement

Another key to driving cultural change in your organization as part of your social journey is engage as big and broad an audience as possible to generate momentum for the change. Every person in your organization can be classified as either a green dot, yellow dot or red dot. Green dots are people who fundamentally “get it” and embrace the change you are trying to drive. Yellow dots are on the fence, but can be flipped to green dots with a bit of effort. Unfortunately, you also have red dots, which are those people who actively or passively oppose the change you are advocating. Forget about your red dots – they are not worth your effort right now. When it comes to reaching the yellow dots and reinforcing your green dots, often the difference can be the amount of contact they have with the richness of the content and the ubiquity of Yammer. Reaching a wider audience at your organization and providing that exposure that just may flip a good number of your yellow dots to green.

One way to create that higher level of exposure is to share Yammer streams during events and YamJams. We also know that doing so in a format that is familiar to your employees is an important determinant of acceptance, which is why Streaming It Out Loud has several features that allow organizations to make it their own. You can choose the layout of the stream, and also have the ability to customize the logo, header and background colors and to add a filter for a group, topic or individual. It’s easy to then Share these Settings with your users, and have all the customizations automatically apply for each user. Users can Like, Reply and Post directly from the responsively designed application that works on mobile devices and tablets too. Making it easy and comfortable for your yellow dots to “lurk”, discover and ultimately participate actively in your social platform is an absolute requirement to grow your community of green dots.

Event feed live stream Yammer at Working Social Tour

(Streaming It Out Loud being used at the Yammer Working Social Tour live event series)

Accommodate Your Employee’s Schedules

We all know that employees not only have responsibilities to the organization, but they also have family and social commitments that can prevent them from participating or consuming information in the exact manner you might envision. In addition, most large organizations have a growing number of remote employees that are spread across the globe. These complications keep your internal communications people up at night trying to figure out how best to communicate with these employees and ensure that they also feel connected. Similar to recording an event for viewing at a later date, we created, in essence, a DVR for Yammer, called Replay, which allows your employees to replay posts while using Streaming It Out Loud, adding a post every 5 seconds. The stream can be paused and resumed on demand.

StreamingItOutLoud YamJam Event Replay Yamme Adoption

(Replaying a YamJam on the Microsoft Office 365 Yammer Network)

We have found that this approach is more engaging for employees and can help you reach people who missed events or YamJams because of timezones, geographies or other commitments. This is a great way to allow your deskless workers to engage during downtimes. You can also create tailored replays to showcase #yamwins (or other hashtagged content) within your network to showcase all the great stories captured in your social platform or other content you want to ensure reaches your employees. Serving up content to your employees in ways that fit their schedule is very important in increasing the reach and exposure of your Yammer network and will result in more yellow dots being converted to green.

Solve Specific Problems for Your Employees

Another important strategy for realizing measurable value from your Yammer network is to solve specific issues that your employees confront on a daily basis. This seems like a self-evident idea, but organizations typically try to solve their own issues and assume that they share these issues with their employees. Employees, however, usually have their own, personal, issues that are distinct from the broader organizational issues. For instance, identifying expertise sounds like a concern shared by the organization and its employees. At an organizational level, talent management is always a hot topic, both in terms of the pipeline of people and understanding the range, depth and combination of competencies of individuals. At a personal level, employees are always trying to find expertise within an organization in order to simply do their daily job. Traditionally, we have relied upon people finders and profile information, which is often static and out of date, to identify expertise within our organizations. These solutions really do not address either level – no wonder this continues to be such a problem.

Having an enterprise social platform generates an invaluable amount of qualitative data and conversations that can help us identify and engage the real expertise within the organization. Tapping into that treasure trove, however, can be a daunting task. ManyWorlds has helped organizations do just that with another application, Synxi. Synxi uses patented technology to graph and inference expertise in your organization based on the actual contributions of staff in Yammer and SharePoint, not the often static and out of date profile information. A great complement to existing people finder solutions, With Synxi, you can visualize recommended subject matter experts, even within the context of a specific Yammer post with detailed combinations of expertise, as well as understanding expertise patterns over time in the organization. This allows you to discover individuals whose work may be lost otherwise due to lack of managerial attention or geographic/organizational boundaries as well as business scenarios such as internal reorganization or post-merger or acquisition activity. This solution can help solve an important issue for your employees, which is another key to driving adoption.

Expertise Graph Synxi for Yammer

Synxi shows inferred relative expertise in the context of a specific Yammer post

Summary

Realizing measurable value from your enterprise social tools, such as SharePoint Online and Yammer, is a critical challenge facing all organizations today. Deployment is not enough – you must embrace the new currency of adoption in order to generate value for your organization. In order to do so, you must fundamentally change the culture of your organization – engage your executives in new and meaningful ways, reach a broad audience of green and yellow dots, make it easy for your employees to participate on their schedule and help employees solve their challenges. Embarking upon a well-thought out social journey is a critical element of driving adoption and culture change and finding strategies for addressing some of the typical obstacles will help you stand out as you move forward in your journey.

Embracing customer driven innovation and building tools and techniques that reflect and extend what customers can do with their enterprise social networks is what drives the team at ManyWorlds who know firsthand how powerful working like a network truly can be. We encourage you to try out our solutions and see just how powerful your enterprise social network can be in realizing measurable value for your organization.

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