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Evolving Yammer for a new era of teamwork

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This post was written by Juliet Wei, a senior product marketing manager for the Yammer team.

Yesterday we laid out our vision for modern collaboration in Office 365, which recognizes that collaboration is central to productivity and teams today are dynamic, extending far beyond the four walls of an organization. To get work done, teams need an easy way to self-organize, stay connected on the go, tap into the network of stakeholders inside and outside your company—and do all this while juggling multiple projects.

In talking with customers about how they get the most out of Yammer, we’ve learned that those who realize the most value use Yammer as a home for their projects and initiatives.The new world of work we’re living in demands a new way for people to work together. That’s why we’re on a mission to transform team collaboration. Take a look at this video to see how teams use Yammer as part of Office 365 today.

We’ve got lots of exciting innovations in store, so I’d like to share with you some of the things we’re doing in Yammer to help teams come together, work smarter and faster, and scale their impact.

  • First, we’re integrating the Yammer experience more deeply within Office 365 by making Yammer a part of Office 365 Groups and Yammer signals a part of the Office Graph. Through this deeper integration, teams can seamlessly move between Yammer conversations, meetings in Skype for Business, Outlook email, files in OneDrive and content discovery in Delve.
  • Next, we’re making Yammer itself a better place for teams to work by using our algorithmic feed to surface the teams and conversations you should know about, so you can stay on top of all your projects from the feed and engage more deeply within groups.
  • And, because we know that teams themselves often span across organizations, we’re making it possible for extended teams to stay in sync and do more together.

To this last point, I’m pleased to announce a new external messaging feature in Yammer, which enables you to add extended team members from outside your organization, such as partners, vendors and customers, to Yammer conversations. To include an external participant, simply add their email address to a Yammer conversation in your network, and they’ll be able to see and respond to this conversation from their own Yammer network or email inbox. Your data stays secure because outside participants only access the conversations they have been added to and not the rest of the information in your network. With 40 percent or more of the U.S. workforce expected to be made up of contingent or independent workers by 2020, companies need to empower the formation of dynamic teams. External messaging is an important step in that direction.

Of course, we’ll continue to deliver these great new Yammer experiences on an enterprise-grade platform with centralized management, because we recognize that companies need a way to secure and manage their IP as teams and tools proliferate.

So there you have it. Our goal is to make Yammer and Office 365 the place where teams work. Attend Ignite from May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago to see our vision in action for yourself.

—Juliet Wei

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I learn more about new Yammer features on the road map?

A. Come to Ignite and attend the Yammer sessions!  We’ll be going over many of our key roadmap investments there, so you’ll be able to get an insider’s look at what we’re noodling over and actively working on. You can also stay up–to-date on new features we’ve publicly disclosed on the Office 365 roadmap.

Q. How do I know that Yammer is the right tool for my team?

A. As part of Office 365, Yammer enables teams to collaborate in the open by giving them the ability to easily self-organize, stay connected on the go, and tap into the network of stakeholders inside and outside your company. In the future, Yammer will integrate with Office 365 Groups so your team can share data across and easily move between Yammer, Outlook, OneDrive, Skype and Delve.

Q. What will you do to ensure my conversations with external participants remain secure? 

A. External messaging was designed to keep your IP safe and secure. We added several features to help identify, monitor and proactively protect your data. First, to create awareness among users, we revamped our UI to provide several warnings before an employee adds an external participant to a conversation. The UI also indicates if external participants are in a thread so new contributors know their audience before posting. Second, we added the ability to apply Exchange Transport Rules (ETRs) from Exchange Online directly to Yammer. Third, as many companies require a record of all employee communications, we refreshed data export so Yammer Verified Admins can monitor any conversation that originated in their network as well as conversations their employees are participating in outside networks. Finally, we provide Yammer users and admins the ability to remove external participants once they’ve been added, pulling that conversation entirely from the external participant’s inbox. To learn more about these security features, please visit this knowledge base article.

Q. What if I want to continue using Yammer as a private network visible only to my organization

A. We believe ETRs are the right way to control external messaging, allowing us to provide admins with one centralized set of controls to manage external communication across Office 365. Using ETRs, admins can impose necessary restrictions but still provide employees with the choice to use any modality that best suits their needs. In the case that ETRs are not sufficient, we provide the option for customers to block users from using external messaging and/or firewall users from receiving conversations from other networks at any time. To learn how you can opt out, see here. Before opting out, we highly encourage customers to first try the feature. From early beta testing with several of our largest customers, we found that External Messaging greatly improved user experience, helped drive meaningful engagement and connected teams that previously struggled to work together.

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