Kai Riemer’s research into the use of Yammer at Capgemini

We typically view microblogging as the posting of short status updates. And indeed that is what happens most on Twitter, as well as in many cases of Enterprise Microblogging. On Twitter, people mostly post about themselves, or they post links to interesting stuff on the web. In a corporate context, some of our early research has shown that microblogging is useful for people to signal task progress or share resources (Riemer/Richter 2010).

But recently we have started investigated how Yammer is used in large enterprises. The first case we analysed is Capgemini and their use of Yammer internally. Capgemini has adopted Yammer quite early in 2008 and the user community has been growing strongly ever since. Now, what is so special about this case?

Well, what we found in our analysis of a sample of about 1000 posts from July 2010 is that microblogging turns out to be very interactive. Of course people share links and resources or post their status. But the vast majority of posts is part of a conversation, e.g. a communication thread (around 75%).

We have further analysed the various types of postings and the contents of conversations. It turns out that microblogging as a communication channel is a useful medium to facilitate brainstorming, context building and actual knowledge work, not just information sharing.

Read more and see figures regarding distribution of communication categories in our full report, which is available online (Riemer et al 2011).


Riemer K and Richter A 2010 ‘Tweet Inside: Microblogging in a Corporate Context (Winner of The Bled Outstanding Paper Award)’, Proceedings of the 23rd Bled eConference 2010 – “eTrust: Implications for the Individual, Enterprises and Society”, Bled, Slovenia, 23rd June 2010, get pdf online.

Riemer K, Richter A, Diederich S and Scifleet S ‘Tweet Talking – Exploring The Nature Of Microblogging At Capgemini Yammer’, BIS Working Paper, ISSN: 1837-1744, http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/7226

I’m at the 2011Enterprise 2.0 Exchange Symposium today, part of ACIS 2011 at Sydney University. Just listened to Kai Riemer’s overview of his research into how an enterprise microblogging tool (Yammer) is being used in a variety of organisations.

Above is a report that looked specifically at its use in one organisation. In his presentation he highlighted the different patterns of use across these different organisations.

Does Viral Adoption of Enterprise Social Business Software work?

The short answer is yes, viral adoption can work BUT only in certain situations. This is my attempt to pin down some of the factors I’ve observed out in the field…

…these are the anti-patterns I’ve actually seen:

Posted over on the Headshift | Dachis Group Asia Pacific blog.

How to show leadership with intranets? Continuous improvement and simple ideas


The other day I blogged about 3 Intranet Truths.

Looking at my first Intranet Truth (“No two intranets are the same. If they are, you are doing something wrong – stop benchmarking and start leading”) its worth reflecting on the first two themes from Step Two Design’s Intranet Innovations 2011 awards:

  • A culture of continuous improvement; and
  • Innovations that are based on very simple ideas

One of the examples they share that embodies these themes is computer animation house, Framestore:

The intranet team created a tool to project manage the visual effects they produce for movies such as the Harry Potter series. Built in-house and displaying data from a third party system, the company’s artists can access tabbed views of complex data about every scene and shot.

Framestore’s success isn’t based on nice to have features or “best practices” blindly copied from others, but by designing an intranet solution specifically for their users. If you want to replicate their success, show leadership by focusing on learning from their method not their design.

You will also see this same mindset in the way Headshift | Dachis Group approaches our projects, including examples such as Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.

Email, the lonely medium

Lee Bryant is co-founder of Headshift, the world’s biggest social business consultancy. He believes email’s dominance over business communications is coming to an end.

“When email was first developed it was an excellent point-to-point communication tool when nothing else existed,” says Mr Bryant.

“I think we’ve reached the stage where email as means of communicating is overloaded. I think we will see what happens on email today transitioning towards various kinds of both internal and consumer facing social tools.”

These are “flow-based” tools such as wikis, micro-blogging and internal social networks, according to Mr Bryant.

“I think fundamentally one of the biggest problems is that social tools communicate slightly more in the open, they create ambient knowledge and ambient awareness for others who are not even in the conversation,” says Mr Bryant.

“Email doesn’t do that, it’s quite a lonely medium.

Lee isn’t saying email (or email like) communication is dead, but that it is being pushed out of the way by more appropriate styles of open and flow-based communication tools.

Nathaniel Borenstein, co-creator of the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) protocol, was also interviewed for this article – I do agree with his comment that the universal addressing that modern email support is a good thing, but that this is “not a definition of email.”

Unfortunately, we don’t yet have true universal addressing across social tools (even with OpenID, I’m sure most users will have identified themselves somewhere via an email account) and email continues to play a role as a personal identifier for using social tools. Similarly, into systems like CoachSurfing, use a physical snail-mail postcard as part of their user verification system.

What is Social Computing?

Social computing has to do with digital systems that support online social interaction. Some online interactions are obviously social – exchanging email with a family member, sharing photos with friends, instant messaging with coworkers. These interactions are prototypically social because they are about communicating with people we know. But other sorts of online activity also count as social – creating a web page, bidding for something on eBay™, following someone on Twitter™, making an edit to Wikipedia1. These actions may not involve people we know, and may not lead to interactions, but nevertheless they are social because we do them with other people in mind: the belief that we have an audience – even if it is composed of strangers we will never meet – shapes what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.

Thus when we speak of social computing we are concerned with how digital systems go about supporting the social interaction that is fundamental to how we live, work and play. They do this by providing communication mechanisms through which we can interact by talking and sharing information with one another, and by capturing, processing and displaying traces of our online actions and interactions that then serve as grist for further interaction.

An academic deep dive into the topic from Thomas Erickson, a researcher in the Social Computing Group at IBM’s Watson Labs in New York. It includes video interview and commentary from other academics. No, I haven’t read/listened to all this content yet, but bookmarking it for later.