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Extending the Yammer Experience

8/26/15 2:21 AM

Different organizations have different ways of collaborating. While core capabilities within SharePoint and the Office 365 suite of tools provide a common layer of functionality, how those features are deployed and used -- and which are even turned on -- can vary widely. One of the primary reasons SharePoint grew so rapidly and has become the leading intranet and collaboration platform is because of this deployment flexibility. SharePoint is often referred to as a "Swiss army knife" because of its many options. But having too many options can be a double-edged sword in that it can be difficult to support, and difficult to prioritize where to innovate for future releases.

When Microsoft acquired Yammer a few years back, expectations were high that the company would replace the core social capabilities in SharePoint with the Yammer platform. That level of integration has not happened, and as a result many customers have looked outside of Microsoft for solutions that can provide the same social collaboration features -- but with a tighter integration with SharePoint. In an ideal world, we would have a single platform that could meet all of our individual requirements. Unfortunately, the business world is a bit more complex.

For many customers, there is still a lot of confusion around Yammer and how it fits into the larger SharePoint and Office 365 strategy aside from being a bolt-on conversational tool and newsfeed. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced via the Office Blog their plans to bring team collaboration capability to Yammer, while also following through on plans to deprecate the Yammer SharePoint app. Aside from updates to their mobile apps, the changes to Yammer were minor -- and the focus of the update had more to do with the deprecation of features. Specifically, support for the Yammer app for SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online will end on September 15th, and support for the Yammer web part for SharePoint 2010 will come to an end in March 2016. You can read more on these changes here.

Many customers who have made extensive investments in building out Yammer communities want to be able to leverage those investments, while strengthening the connections between their communities and the key business workloads within SharePoint. That's where Beezy can add tremendous value.

In the near-term, organizations that have used the Yammer app for SharePoint 2013 will need to identify where the app lives throughout their environment, and have a plan to replace it with the Yammer embed feed. More than just a simple swap, each embed instance needs to be added and then configured, ensuring that valuable social interactions are not lost or disconnected from relevant SharePoint team sites.

Replacing the unsupported Yammer app for SharePoint will take time and effort, and if customers are not careful, valuable social interactions could be lost -- or disconnected from relevant SharePoint content, teams, and business activities.

When we announced our two-way migration between Yammer and SharePoint in July, the news may have confused some market watchers who had thought of Beezy as a Yammer competitor. But when you look at the rich features available through Beezy, it becomes clear that we do not compete. Instead, we extend the capabilities of both Yammer and SharePoint, allowing our customers to build enterprise-class collaboration environments that meet their very demanding business requirements.

Beezy is not a fancy UI skin sitting on top of SharePoint, which more accurately describes the intranet-in-a-box solutions being offered by various firms these days. Instead, Beezy is a flexible and powerful software solution that enables organizations to create rich, engaging end user experiences that utilize the full functionality of the Microsoft SharePoint platform and the Office 365 suite of tools. In addition, we offer capabilities well beyond the SharePoint and Yammer features. And we deliver these exceptional features with an award-winning user experience. One of these features is a seamless integration with Yammer and SharePoint using Beezy.

In a presentation I recently gave at SharePointFest Seattle on the topic of social adoption (Good, Better Best: Strategies for Social Adoption in SharePoint), I talked extensively about the need to not overwhelm end users with too many and too complex features. Instead, organizations should focus on simplifying the user interface and aligning end user activities with core business workloads. What this means is not requiring your teams to jump from content management systems and team sites over to email, and then from email over to social conversations. Instead, enterprise collaboration experiences should align with the culture or your organization, the flow of your core business activities, and most importantly -- the needs of your end users.

How this applies to Beezy and our integration with Yammer is that we allow organizations who have made extensive Yammer investments to continue using Yammer where it makes sense -- but with our unique two-way integration, we move Yammer from a bolt-on experience to a federated experience that makes the Yammer newsfeed a truly unified experience, no matter where it is being accessed.

Beezy was built on SharePoint, for SharePoint. That means that we are more than just an embed feed -- we are robust collaboration software that extends the capability of both SharePoint and Yammer: blogs, wikis, questions and answers, media galleries, advanced user profiles, gamification, and so much more. SharePoint activities and events show up in your Yammer newsfeed, just as Yammer conversations and activities show up in your SharePoint newsfeed. For organizations using Office 365, Beezy fully integrates with the Office Graph, enabling teams to leverage Delve and dynamic "discovery" capabilities not yet available in Yammer.

If you are using Yammer today but want to have a stronger integration between your social activities and your SharePoint workloads, you need to take a look at Beezy. Contact us today.

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