Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why Yammer is still relevant

A little while ago I did a presentation at a user group on “Why Yammer is still relevant”. I’ve recorded that presentation and made it available to all, so take a look and let me know what you think. The slide for the session are also available for download.

The crux of my process is that Yammer is the best way to drive Office 365 adoption. Why? Because:

- Yammer is really targeted to do one thing well (public conversations)

- It requires no infrastructure to implement as it is a cloud only solution

- It has a free entry level version

- It is mobile ready

- It integrates well to other Office 365 services

The secret to implementing such a huge product like Office 365 is not to overwhelm users with an ‘everything at once’ approach. See my ‘rule of three’ for more thoughts on that.

Likewise, if you underwhelm users with just email, they will yawn and ask with they are bothering to pay for Office 365.

You need to find a good starting point for on boarding people into the new way of working with Office 365. This means you need to give them something that doesn’t take a whole lot of training to understand, yet provides some major productivity benefits. To me, Yammer fits that bill in spades.

That doesn’t means that you can’t use Microsoft Teams down the line but Microsoft Teams, with its links to files and stuff, can be too much initially for users to get their heads around, especially if they are coming from a world of files and folders. Yammer by contrast is simple and ‘works’ in a similar way to many social networks they already probably use (a la Facebook). That means less training, and importantly, less resistance thanks to pre-existing understanding.

The big productivity payoff is simply visibility of shared information. Such visibility means that information can now be shared with everyone in the business. This means users can find what they want themselves by simply searching for it.

Yammer also speaks to the two most important demographics I have outlined previously when it comes to driving Office 365 adoption, your innovators and laggards. Yammer allows you innovators to dive right and start posting information and showing people how much they know. For laggards, Yammer allows them to sit back and watch what everyone is doing before become comfortable enough to contribute.

Like all Office 365 services, to have a successful adoption you need to have a plan. My suggestions for overall adoption, as I have outlined, is to start with Yammer. To kick this adoption process off with Yammer you create two internal networks called ‘Social’ and ‘Office 365 101’. The idea with the ‘Social’ area is that it is somewhere that people can share birthdays, sports results, holidays, etc. You may think that have a ‘Social’ group is frivolous to a business. It is, however, very specifically designed to help drive adoption. How? Well, the more restrictions you place on people, the less likely they are to use it right? So, the concept of the ‘Social’ group in Yammer is as place with few restrictions, therefore encouraging adoption of the service. If you don’t want to see the ‘Social’ stuff you don’t join that group. Unlike company wide email blasts, users can select which Yammer group they want to be part of.

The ‘Office 365 101’ group in Yammer becomes a place that is initially seeded with helpful links, videos, and the like. It is the place people come to ask questions about Office 365 inside the business and get answers from implementers. However, here’s where the real magic of Yammer happens. Although there is some initial effort required to seed the group, what you generally soon find is that soon your innovators and early adopters start answering questions posted by others as well as contributing helpful information. They start doing what they have always done, showing people how much they know and helping others. Now all you need to do is stand back and the group ‘Office 365 101’ becomes self supporting. Amazing eh?

Once users have grasped the concept of Yammer with these two groups they will come asking whether they can use Yammer to solve business challenges. At that point, you know your adoption process is on the road to success. Until that point, you have to continue to work getting users to understand the benefits of Yammer and using the service for themselves (hint, just show them search and they’ll ‘get it’).

In a nutshell, that’s why I see Yammer now as being more relevant than ever. I look at it as the starting point for all Office 365 adoption projects and in my experience is works really well in that way. Implemented correctly, it is a product that will revolutionize a business and help them understand how the ‘new world’ of collaboration with Office 365 can improve their productivity and change the way they work.

Consistent success comes from having a system and Yammer is a key part of my adoption system for Office 365. I would suggest it should also be part of yours.