Crossing the streams with Newsgator & Yammer

I’m sure some users would get plenty of value from just being able to see updates happening in Yammer along with all the other data that [Newsgator] Social Sites can bring together (and we have some very cool features coming that make it extremely powerful to aggregate all the social data in one spot).  But when we add in the potential to take an item from any external system (including Yammer), allow for editing, tagging, and workflow, and generate a wiki page in SharePoint from it, I think we get a really compelling reason to add this integration.  Whatever microblogs are flowing through Yammer, delivering an easy way to turn the best of them into real knowledge objects in SharePoint really adds a significant amount of value.

There have been questions about the future role of products like Newsgator in the new world of “Microsoft Yammer”, however its worth remembering Newsgator’s origins as an aggregator of information. The reality for many large organisations is that there is typically no single platform in place and that just about every enterprise social software solution supports some kind of activity stream. For the moment its worth thinking about if your social intranet is going to be SharePoint-centric or Yammer-centric, then build out from there.

7 ways to get value from enterprise social software

I talked to some corporate Yammer, Chatter and Jive users, all of whom claimed measurable gains from these tools in a variety of areas. Here are seven ways they derive value from social enterprise applications.

Ashley Furness identifies seven usage patterns for enterprise social software tools. However, she also highlights that some firms are reporting they can be ‘more “of a distraction” than a value driver’. Certainly that’s a danger of randomly implementing tools.

Yammer case study: Hall & Wilcox, a law firm in Melbourne, Australia

We have discussed the importance of adoption events to the success of enterprise social network adoption a few times. A successful adoption event informs users of the benefits of using the ESN, models desired behaviors, increases awareness and establishes a call to action. An example of a really creative launch came to my attention, and I just had to get to know the company that made its own Yammer shirts (and sent me one!), and baked Yammer cupcakes. That company was Hall & Wilcox, a law firm in Melbourne, Australia. I caught up with Yammer champions Josephine Murfey and Chris Warburton at Hall & Wilcox, and this is what we talked about.

I’ve talked to and worked with enough people in professionals services firms in recent years to know they have mixed success with a viral adoption approach. One law firm I spoke too commented that all staff did on Yammer was share funny jokes and it wasn’t perceived as adding much to the work culture or practice. However, Hall & Wilcox is a good case study of the kinds of activities you could be using to help create and maintain momentum if you wanted to do more than simply throwing open the doors to an enterprise social networking platform. The other common factor here of course is Pete Williams, who you many have noticed acts as the idea virus in many of Yammer’s Australian success stories.

My comment on Delimiter about the Yammer acquisition by Microsoft

The acquisition is unlikely to have much impact in the short term, although it may give Yammer an advantage when negotiating with some enterprise buyers through their new link to Microsoft. Certainly the acquisition won’t impact the immediate next release of SharePoint.

There is of course massive potential to integrate activity streams and other social computing concepts across the Microsoft suite of products. What remains to be seen is if this is in fact Microsoft’s strategy and are they able execute the idea quicker than companies like Jive or Salesforce. This strategy would also need to fit into Microsoft’s broader partner strategy – directly this includes vendors like Newsgator and Neudesic Pulse, but indirectly this also includes other system integrators and resellers. I actually think that’s a bold play, as it would require them to become the de-facto activity stream provider in the enterprise. There is also the small detail of Yammer being a cloud-based solution too.

Despite all the speculation, I don’t think this will become much clearer until we hear and see more details about what will actually happen at Yammer next. When I met with Yammer in San Francisco a few weeks prior to the news breaking about the acquisition I got the impression that they had their own ideas about taking Yammer beyond being a simple “virtual water cooler” app – in this respect, maybe the best thinkg that might happen is that Microsoft treats them as an important partner so we get to see what evolves there, much as I see other companies like TIBCO and SAP doing with their own Yammer alternatives (tibbr and StreamWork respectively).

I finally got sucked into making a comment about the Yammer acquisition by Microsoft…

You do need a strategy for your enterprise social network, says Yammer

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A great post from Stephen Danelutti at Yammer explaining why even if you use viral adoption as a catalyst to get started, you still need a strategy:

“The ease of use and virality of a platform like Yammer can be deceivingly simple and lead people to think that a deliberate strategy is not necessary. That’s a mistake, because without direction and an end goal in mind, the network will simply meander and fail to deliver business value.”

Southeastern integrates operational information into their internal activity stream

In the past six months, Southeastern [a UK railway operator] has leveraged Socialtext Connect, a flexible and robust developer toolset built on our REST API that enables developers to socially enable existing systems of record, such as ERP, CRM, or content management systems. The Socialtext solution, now integrated into the Southeastern infrastructure, enables employees to access train status information on the fly, in real-time with visibility across the entire workforce. By providing Southeastern with a more efficient way to share knowledge, expertise, ideas and information, the company can more quickly respond to change and serve their patrons effectively.

And you thought social inside the enterprise was all about staff telling each other what they had for lunch?

Genre analysis of how Yammer is used within Deloitte Australia

Social media technologies are making fast inroads into organisations. In the context of knowledgeintensive work the propositions of improving communication, information sharing and user involvement seem particularly promising. However, the role and impact of social technologies in enterprises in general and knowledge work in particular are still not well understood, despite emerging scholarly works in this field. In this study we aim to contribute to this stream of research. We investigate the phenomenon of Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) in the context of Professional Service Firms (PSF). Our case investigates emerging communicative work practices on the ESN platform Yammer within Deloitte Australia. We perform a genre analysis of actual communication data captured on the Yammer platform. We uncover a set of emerging practices enabled by the platform within the case company and reflect on our results in the context of the knowledge-intensive nature of professional service work. We find that Yammer in the case company has become 1) an information-sharing channel, 2) a space for crowdsourcing ideas, 3) a place for finding expertise and solving problems and most importantly 4) a conversation medium for context and relationship building.

Kai has written a short summary on his blog. But beware – this isn’t a blueprint for Yammer or any other enterprise social network. Neither does it provide data on the organisational value generated by the activity observed. As Kai also points out, in the case of Deloitte Australia:

a number of knowledge-work practices are not carried out within Yammer, even though we found these practices in some of our earlier enterprise microblogging case.

However, this is a great piece of research and provides more insight into the different ways that different organisations make use of social technologies.