Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Business of Yammer

A little while back I spoke at the Sydney Office 365 users group about the business benefits of a tool like Yammer. This post provides a summary of the major points of that presentation as well as making the slides available for download from:

http://1drv.ms/1M8V3fk

This first video should highlight why email is not a collaboration tool. Email is best used for private one to one interactions, not one to many that could public. The main difference here is simply visibility, it is a lot easier for people to work together when they can all see the information in one place.

If you have a think about how you communication to day, at work or at home. Then stop and think about how your kids or the younger generation communicate. Chances are your kids are not big users of email or the phone but prefer Facebook and SMSing. Now look at your business, it is going to be composed of a range of individuals who prefer and use different methods of communication. Has your business every given you guidance on what forms should be used for what? Unlikely. Without guidance people use the communication methods and medium they are most comfortable with, not those that their recipients are most comfortable with or the ones that make most sense for collaboration.

Ask yourself if you really understand what social networking is. Ask yourself what you use personally and what your business uses. Chances are that you doing use social networking in either context. Chances are you only see it as something that proliferates pictures of cats that look like Hitler.

Another important point to remember in discussions about social networks is that it no longer limited to people. With the dawning of the age of the Internet of Things there will be a growth of devices talking to each other and sharing information. So social networking is a critical components of our technological world as we move forward.

image 

What I love about this picture I stole from someone is the fact that it is providing guidance on how they want their employees to communicate. The simple ability of having corporate information and conversations made public make it far easier to use the power of search to locate relevant data. Why is that important? Because information has value.

Too much time is spent inside organisations currently siloing information. The worst culprit for this is email and most employees would tell you they are overloaded with email to the point where it actually makes them less productive. Remember, your inbox is generally a priority set by someone else which does little but destroy your productivity.

Stop and think about the bulk of emails your receive everyday. Do they all need to be private? Could they in fact be posted in a common area? What happens to email when people leave an organisation? They may get archived somewhere but are they ever referred to? Doubtful but if that information was public and searchable then it would continue to provide value for everyone. Why? Because making information public means making it searchable and search is technology’s killer app.

So where do new employees go to find information now? Who do they go to when they need help? Many businesses today want to be more social but struggle to understand how to do this. Don’t forget that a business is more than just its employees. It includes customers, suppliers, partners and so on. Any concept of social should also extend here.

Although perhaps a bit saccharine, the above video provides an excellent business example of how social provides business benefit in solving a problem. It is also interesting to note that:

1. Most of the interactions take place outside the traditional office

and

2. Most of the interactions happen on mobile devices

So, when you think social you also need to think mobile.

So what is Yammer? It was launched in 2008 and sold to Microsoft in 2012 for $1.2 Billion. It is a cloud only solution (i.e. there is no Yammer server on premise you can install). There is a free version anyone with a business email address (i.e not @hotmail or @yahoo.com) can sign up for. The Yammer Enterprise version is free of all Office 365 Suites:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-au/library/office-365-plan-options.aspx

image

So basically Yammer is laid out like many other social networks. There is a newsfeed in the center of the page. On the left are the groups you belong. On the right you see information about recent activity, people to follow, files and so on. In the top right is the search field along with the more options menu (i.e. the three dots). In the bottom left is the network link that allows you to move between all the different networks you belong to.

The major take away from the above video that Yammer provides is the ability for anyone inside a company to be heard and contribute. Here you have someone working at the coalface with customers having direct input into the latest version of a product. That not only makes the product better but it also makes the employee feel much more involved and engaged with the business. All from simply being social.

Yammer is now part of Office 365 and can be purchased stand alone or part of all suites. It is also directly integrated with SharePoint Online to allow conversations around documents to take place (i.e. no more sending yucky attachments via email). It also provides behavioural information to things like Officegraph and Delve to help surface more relevant information based on usage patterns.

The above video highlights how Yammer provides opportunities to those inside a business. It flattens traditional corporate structures and provides reach and visibility across all areas. It also critically allows two normally disconnected parties to connect and interact.

So how can you get started with Yammer? Sign up for a free account at Yammer.com, complete your profile, join some relevant networks, introduce yourself (i.e. don;t be shy) and then start following people and topics. If you are looking to utilise Yammer via Office 365 the recommendation is to keep the free Yammer account separate from Enterprise Yammer.

if you plan to set up Yammer Enterprise with Office 365 remember you’ll need to have publically accessible website that matches the domain you are signing up for. The Enterprise version will give you more features and control. You can link it external Yammer networks (i.e. those outside your organisation) but there are some integration limits at this point in time that will disappear as Yammer becomes more and more integrated. Have a look at this previous blog post for information on Yammer via Office 365:

http://blog.ciaops.com/2014/09/basic-yammer-administration-via-office.html

In summary, social is the way we are moving when it comes to communications. Look at how your kids communicate if you want an inkling of what the future holds. This requires a different approach from what most businesses have traditionally become comfortable with. Social allows collaboration across the length and breath of the organisation as well as up and down the entire structure. The integration of Yammer into Office 365 will continue to grow over time so there has now never been a better time to start implementing social within your business.

Successful businesses understand the benefits and power enterprise social networking provides. It is not a fad, it is something that is only now beginning to change the way humans and technology interact. No matter how big or how small and organisation is, tools like Yammer (which are now part of all Office 365 suites) provide the power to improve productivity and offer incentive to all employees but the only way to know is to start using it today. Be social, be mobile and work like a network.

Resources

Yammer moments - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTmugBKQkx4

Activating Yammer Enterprise for Existing Office 365 E subscriptions - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZGP8kqFLSE

Work like a network - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSktb_Hrdj8

Billy's yammer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU6C7puAwYg 

Shawna’s Yammer moment - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE2HquueJn8

Hotel room keys - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U9X8LbGTxk

https://about.yammer.com/success/ 

https://about.yammer.com/success/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/Ready-Set-Go_en_US.pdf

https://about.yammer.com/success/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/New-User-Checklist_en_US.pdf

Add and Manage users on Yammer - https://about.yammer.com/success/activate/activation-guide/add-and-manage-users-on-yammer/