Yammer or SharePoint? The Deloitte Experience


Watching the twitter stream from #KMAUS this year, I noticed a lot of tweets about technology and particularly issues that sounded very much like Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business conversations taking place.

One of the comments that caught my attention was blogged about by Brad Hinton in more detail:

Pete Williams from Deloitte emphasised how existing communication tools can be used for good business outcomes. He was specifically focusing on social tools that allow connection and collaboration between individuals and teams. He informed us how Deloitte uses Yammer to share information and experiences within Deloitte. He gave many examples as to how the system was used to ask and solve problems; problems that might otherwise take much longer to solve or deal with. In a telling point about Sharepoint, Williams said this about the Microsoft product: “if I want to get a glass of water, Sharepoint wants to dig a well. Why not go to the tap that’s already there?”.

Brad also highlighted the cultural environment (a “can do” culture) that goes hand-in-hand with the ability to successfully use tools like Yammer, although I would point to case studies from organisations in other industries, such as government and utilities, that show they can work elsewhere too. So tools like Yammer, Socialcast, tibbr, Socialtext and the like are in no way something restricted to technology and consulting firms, although in practice we find how they are used is different to pure ‘knowledge work’ businesses.

However, Deloitte is a large company (~170,000 staff around the world) and its interesting to consider that while one part of Deloitte sees Sharepoint as overkill, another part has successfully deployed a social intranet based on Microsoft Sharepoint. Called D Street, it uses a combination of Sharepoint and Newsgator.

Some of the recommendations Deloitte make from this experience are that:

  • Slowly roll out changes to Enterprise 2.0 tools rather than overhaul the entire infrastructure at once. Changes in taxonomy, capabilities and structure can confuse workers and elicit a bad first impression.
  • Don’t forget the importance of moderation, management and risk management.

Deloitte have published a more detailed case study (PDF). Its also interesting to look at how they use Sharepoint from a technical perspective (integration with SAP, architected to support 50,000 users).

Looking at both experiences within Deloitte, I don’t think either is more valid than the other. Rather it highlights the importance of designing solutions that fit the needs of users and take into account the particular circumstances of each organisation (or part of the organisation implementing them). Unfortunately, there is no single right fit or approach. And both Sharepoint and tools like Yammer can be used well or badly.

Image source: Newsgator.


4 thoughts on “Yammer or SharePoint? The Deloitte Experience

  1. Hi James,Thanks for sharing your viewpoint! I do agree that context is everything and the platform you roll out, as well as the manner in which you do it, is always dictated by your business needs. It’s important to first examine your business process, figure out where enterprise social and KM in general fits in and try to integrate into existing process as much as possible. While i’m personally a big fan of disruption, in large organizations, as you pointed out, it’s imperative to “slowly roll out” vs. “immediate overhaul”. I would like to also point out that it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Yammer can be integrated with Sharepoint, and a a number of our clients have been doing it rather successfully (disclosure: I work for Yammer). We recently announced an upgrade to our SP integration (http://blog.yammer.com/blog/2011/07/yammer-and-sharepoint-a-love-story.html) — so we are definitely committed to enabling our clients to harness the power of both platforms.- Maria Ogneva, Head of Community, Yammer@themaria @yammer

  2. @themaria I completely agree, it doesn’t have to be a zero game. I think all of the serious enterprise social business software vendors recognise this by offering integrations with Microsoft Sharepoint and often with the broader Office stack too. That was actually my first reaction to Williams’ comment – why didn’t they just integrate with SharePoint?

  3. I cannot see the comparison between MS-SP and Yammer. EG you would not use Yammer for document/records management, or application development platform. Yammer does complement SP, it does not integrate with the user profile system in SP – you are still left with two user profiles. We are using the Yammer web part to enhance our SP 2010 deployment….

Comments are closed.