It's not unusual to hear Yammer advocates describing the product as "Facebook for the enterprise," but the arrival of Facebook at Work appears to have stirred Microsoft into action, no doubt at the thought of losing business customers to the world's largest social network. On February 2, 2016 Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, announced that the company would be activating Yammer for every eligible Office 365 tenant, and that Yammer and Office 365 would be brought closer together.
Attention: more innovation ahead
Launched in 2008, Yammer was acquired in 2012 by Microsoft's previous administration for $1.2bn. Since then, Yammer has played the part of the "adopted child" within the Office 365 family, offering no family resemblance or shared DNA. Indeed, ask any ardent Yammer fan what they thought of the acquisition and they would have to admit that it didn’t sit naturally alongside Microsoft’s SharePoint-centric enterprise collaboration stack. And as if to underline the fact, Microsoft used the term "seamless availability" rather "seamless integration" in its recent blog post.
The announcement declared that the automatic activation for new and existing tenants would allow all Office 365 customers to gain the full benefits of Yammer. For now, this means service location within managed data centers and integration with Azure Active Directory. However, the move could prove confusing for some business users and IT managers, as Yammer's central features, group conversations and content sharing, can be found in other elements of the Office 365 stack.
For those organizations already running Yammer – and there are still plenty of them – the work that has been completed behind the scenes means that the product is now covered by the Office 365 Trust Center. The Trust Center offers the protection of international and regional standards such as the Office 365 Data Processing Agreement with European Union Model Clauses (DPA with EUMC), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Office 365 Business Associate Agreement (HIPAA BAA), ISO 27001, ISO 27018, compliance with Section 508 for web accessibility, and SSAE 16 SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports.
Microsoft has said it is working to integrate Yammer with OneDrive, Delve, and Office 365 Groups, although in truth the company has been saying this for a long time. However, the thought of Facebook muscling in on its enterprise domain has clearly touched a nerve and jolted Microsoft into action, and so it should.
"Why you need an enterprise social network," EI0024-000025 (July 2015)
Framework: Selecting an Enterprise Social Networking Product, IT0021-000027 (September 2014)
Ovum Interactive Decision Matrix: Enterprise Social Networking, IT0021-000017 (August 2014)
Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting an Enterprise Social Networking Product, 2014, IT013-000213 (January 2014)
SWOT Assessment: Microsoft Yammer, IT013-000214 (August 2013)
Richard Edwards, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Productivity & Mobility