Using Yammer to keep up to date

I’ve written two previous articles about how you can use various Office 365 services to keep you and your business up to date. You’ll find these at:

Using Office 365 to stay up to date

Using Microsoft Teams to keep up to date

I’ll show you how to do exactly the same thing but this time using Yammer and Microsoft Flow.


I am going to assume that you already have your Yammer network in operation (it does come free with most Office 365 suites after all!). So the first step in the process, as with previous articles, is to go and find the RSS feed for the item you wish to track.


In this case I’ve created a new Flow and the trigger item I’ve selected is when a new items is created on the feed.


Once the process has started I’m then going to send that feed through a HTML to Text convert to make it easier for users to read.


I’m then going to take the result of that conversion and post it automatically to a location in Yammer. In this case, I have elected to post it to All Company but you may wish to create a dedicated Yammer group for these items (kind of like the dedicated channel I suggested when using Teams).


So when a new article is published like that above, it will appear on Yammer like so.


This should give the news much greater visibility and importantly allow other in the business to comment, add conversations and more value around the item. It also allows people to draw it to the attention of others using ‘@’ mentions.

You could extend this further by automatically adding appropriate ‘#’ hashtags to make search and categorisation easier. You are only limited in what you can do by your imagination.

I think this Yammer style automatic posting of new items works best for items that are relevant across the organisation or at least across a group wider than what you find in a Microsoft Team channel. However, all three that I have covered, Office 365 Groups, Microsoft Teams and this can be used where ever and when ever they make sense. They all have mobile apps. They all encourage participation and they all make the information searchable.

The idea with all these suggestion is to demonstrate how easy it is to bring the news you want directly to a common location in your business. Hopefully, it also demonstrates how powerful this can be when enhanced by comments from people inside your business. This concept applies for all business, large and small. It is the smart way to use the tools you have to fetch the information you need.

Remember, Office 365 is not just a single service like email, it is a toolbox that allows you to solve business challenges. Make sure you explore all it has to offer and implement it in ways to make your business more productive as I have hopefully shown here.

Focus on the ‘Me’ services first

The way I approach Office 365 adoption for businesses is very different from the approach that many take. My experience shows that successful adoption is all about understanding the human experience rather than just implementing technology.

The vast majority of people and businesses are very change adverse. That’s normal. This means they are already wary of what technology brings their work life. Many have also had plenty of experiences where technology failed them and actually made their job more difficult. All of these factors are an accumulated mountain that implementing new systems inside a business need to surmount.

The solution is not to attack that mountain with more technology, it is to focus on enabling people with technology. It is about making technology more personal for the user and showing them how it can help them get their job done. It is about letting them become familiar with what the technology can do.

Thus, the starting point is always the individual, because we all know everyone wants to know ‘what’s in for me?’. If you don’t get individual buy in then you’ll never get business buy in. It’s the individuals that make the business succeed, not the other way around! So what’s the strategy here when it comes to Office 365 adoption?


The approach I recommend is always to focus on the ‘me’ services in Office 365 first. These services to my mind are Yammer, OneDrive for Business, OneNote and Delve.

I have talked about why Yammer is the key starting point for adoption previously:

Why Yammer is still relevant

In summary, Yammer is a great way to make a big impact with little investment. It basically allows the business to work in public, which most businesses have never been able to do. Yammer also allows people to contribute and consume what is happening in the business and with those around them, on the desktop or on their phones. In short, it brings the social nature of being human into a business and in my experience produces huge initial wins for the business.

Once Yammer has been rolled out the next recommendation is to get users onto OneDrive for Business. In essence this gives them familiarity with the SharePoint experience of working with files but without being in the glare of everyone else in the business as they do with Team Sites. Because OneDrive for Business is personal, they can play, use and learn without fear of ‘breaking something’ or interfering with others. It has the added benefit of moving all their unbackedup data (desktop, My Documents, C: drive, etc) to somewhere they can easily access that just about anywhere. For the business, it provides greater compliance and security over their information.

Next up, I recommend OneNote. OneNote is an app that most people have never used but it is available on all platforms. That makes it easy to start saving information into. Once information is in OneNote it is backed up and sync’ed to all devices automatically. How many people do you know that carry a pen and pad wherever they go? Just about everyone right? Imagine the benefits those people would get if they recorded even some of their stuff into OneNote? The killer feature of OneNote is search. Since you have already got users hooked on OneDrive for Business, now you show them the benefits of creating and saving OneNote notebooks there. Whether they create one massive personal notebook or lots of smaller ones, it doesn’t matter. Now they have a digital notebook that never runs out, is always backed up and available on all their devices.

The final piece of the puzzle is Delve. How is Delve a ‘me’ service you may ask? Well, the way I see it, Delve is a user’s personal search engine. It allows them to search across all their documents, all the shared documents they have access to, their attachments as well information about others in the business. Remember how I said search is the killer feature of OneNote? It is actually the killer feature of Office 365.  Delve shows them THEIR document feed, the people THEY are interactive with most. It allows them to create THEIR OWN personal blog and so on.

Delve is also great from an administrator’s point of view because there isn’t much that needs configuring. However, for successful adoption an administrator MUST ensure that one feature of Delve is enabled. Can you guess what that is?


Nothing looks worse than having just a shadow staring back at you from your Delve. To drive adoption successfully you MUST have the user’s profile picture there automatically or show them how to upload it themselves.


Users will feel greater ownership if they see firstly, their own picture and secondly, pictures of the co-workers. Remember, you are implementing something like Office 365 to benefit users, not just for something to do. Thus, doing everything you can to promote buy in makes sense. There are so many other benefits of ensuring you have images in user’s profile that I won’t go into here, but rest assured, they are critical when it comes to adoption.

Once you have all these ‘me’ services rolled out, then you can start looking at ‘us’ services like Teams, SharePoint and so on. How do you know when the time is right to shift from ‘me’ adoption to ‘us’ adoption? Well, the metrics that you established prior to rolling out Office 365 should be the yard stick, however when users come to you and say things like:

– “Hey this Yammer thing is great, could we use it for this?”

– “OneNote is amazing, will work for this project?”

and so on. Basically, you’ll know then that the time is right to shift to rolling out ‘us’ services. You just have to wait till users start asking for them. At that point you know they are comfortable with the technology and have embraced the benefits themselves and now want to extend that elsewhere in the business. They are no longer afraid of the new technology, they see how it can make their lives easier. At that point, it is time to unlock your adoption achievement award and move on.

Thus, successful Office 365 adoption is about focusing on the individual before the team. It is about giving them ‘me’ services to allow them to become familiar in their own time and space. Once they do that they’ll come to you asking how these can be extended beyond their own world.

That is the way to do Office 365 adoption successfully in my books.

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.

Learning Collaboration in Office 365


A little while ago I announced that I’ll be conducting a new course focused on showing you the best practices when it comes to collaboration in Office 365. This will answer questions about whether you should use Microsoft Teams over Yammer, what roles Groups plays and to drive adoption for your business to ensure that everyone makes full use of the Office 365 suite they have been allocated.

You’ll find all the original information about the course here:

Understanding collaboration in Office 365 course

The course gives you the opportunity to participate in the learning live. You’ll be able to complete the hands on tutorials right there and then. You’ll get immediate feedback on what you’ve learnt and you’ll also be able to ask questions and most importantly get your questions answered right there and then. If you think this is just going to be a boring webinar style presentation, then you in for a shock as nothing could be further from the truth. This course will be more hands on than if you were sitting in a classroom!

Best of all is that all the sessions will be recorded and made available to you, along with all the training materials (notes, links, whitepapers and more) FOREVER! That’s right, you can continue to come back to the course and watch the training at your leisure. You can even download it all and watch it offline. So if you are too shy to attend the live events you’ll still get full benefit from all the material.

Those lucky enough to have signed up already have been able to take advantage of the initial substantial early bird discount, however if you missed that then you need to act now to get a $30 discount. Use the coupon code EAERLYBIRD2 at checkout or click here to have the discount automatically applied upon registration:

Understanding collaboration in Office 365 – $30 discount

Remember, you need to use the link or the coupon code to get the discount.

An additional offer is that if you are not already a CIAOPS Academy affiliate you should sign up so you can offer this course to others and receive a commission. That’s right, just refer this (or any CIAOPS Academy course) to others and you’ll receive a percentage of the course direct to you. To become an affiliate simply sign up for free at the CIAOPS Academy and then contact me ( to let me know you want to be an affiliate and I’ll send you all the details and get you signed up asap.

The count down to the course kick off on the 1st of June is on and I’d encourage you to take advantage of this discount before it expires on the 19th of May. Remember, the course includes over 5 hours of hands on training, video recordings of all sessions as well a lifetime access to all the course materials including video replays, course notes, links, white papers and more. All of which you can download and view offline.

If you want to learn how Office 365 can give your business a completive edge by being more effective and productive then sign up today to take advantage of this discount.

I’ll also point out that if you sign up as a CIAOPS Patron you’ll not only receive discounts starting at 25% on this course but you’ll also get access to my private Office 365 Facebook community where you can get your questions answered by myself and other in the community daily. For all the benefits of being a CIAOPS Patron head over to:

I hope to see you on the course with me and those who have already signed up.

Understanding collaboration in Office 365 course


I’m happy to announce a new course is available from the CIAOPS Academy. This course will focus on the collaboration tools available in Office 365. This means SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, OneDrive and more. You’ll not only learn how these products work but you’ll also learn how to use them effectively to increase the productivity of your business.

The course will divided into 5 live sessions held every Friday in June. Thus:

Friday June 2nd 2017 – SharePoint & OneDrive
Friday June 9th 2017 – Groups, Teams and Staffhub
Friday June 16th 2017 – Yammer & Skype for Business
Friday June 23rd 2017 – Delve & Planner
Friday June 30th 2017 – Migration and Driving adoption

The sessions will run for 1 hour and be recorded. Session time are:

8am – 9am – Sydney, Australia
3pm – 4pm – PDT, USA
6pm – 7pm – EDT, USA
11pm – 12am – BST, UK

The recordings of each session will be available shortly after each session is completed. Although each session will run for 60 minutes, there will be an open Q and A at the end that will continue as long as people have questions not answered in the session.

All the material, including recordings, course notes and additional offers will be available for download after the fact.

The material presented during this course is a great way to fast track you understanding and adoption of Office 365 adoption tools in your business. Not only will you see the technology in use but the sessions will include hands on material for all students to participate in, so you’ll be directly interacting with the technology during the time. This way you’ll get to see and experience exactly what is possible with Office 365 collaboration technologies.

If you are keen to jump on board then I have a special early bird discount as a reward. Normally the cost of the course is US$299 but if you sign up before the 12th of May 2017 at 9:00am you’ll receive $60 off the cost using the coupon code EARLYBIRD1 or this direct link:

Understanding collaboration in Office 365 – $60 early bird discount

Remember, you need to use the link or the coupon code to get the discount.

An additional offer is that if you are not already a CIAOPS Academy affiliate you should sign up so you can offer this course to others and receive a commission. That’s right, just refer this (or any CIAOPS Academy course) to others and you’ll receive a percentage of the course direct to you. To become an affiliate simply sign up for free at the CIAOPS Academy and then contact me ( to let me know you want to be an affiliate and I’ll send you all the details and get you signed up asap.

In summary. Sign up for the upcoming CIAOPS Academy Office 365 collaboration course here (and get an early bird discount):

Understanding collaboration in Office 365 – $60 early bird discount

and contact me ( if you want to become an academy affiliate and receive commissions for courses you sell.

I hope to see you in attendance at the course in June.

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 4

This is the fourth article in a series of typical customers questions around Office 365. These questions were part of presentation I did with two other resellers at the Australian Microsoft Partner Conference in 2016. You’ll find the other parts of the series here:

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 1

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 2

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 3

The question for this article is:

My team isn’t in one location and staying in touch is a challenge. Email is not the answer as we already get too much of that as it is. How can I allow my team members to stay in touch in real time and be connected better so we can respond to customers faster?

There are obviously many potential solutions here that Office 365 can provide, however the biggest question is around mobility and real time communications.

This means that the solutions that makes the most sense are ones that are available on all platforms, both desktop and phone. Now the question also doesn’t speak to ‘collaboration’ per se, it simply talks about ‘staying in touch’. So to narrow our choices somewhat, let’s focus on Office 365 services that can typically replace the bulk of email communications inside a business.

The most likely candidate to replace many email conversations is Skype for Business. This will allow employees to conduct things such as text chats, one on one phone conversations as well as group video meetings if required. It cam even be connected to normal phone lines.

What is Skype for Business?

Skype for Business has a desktop app as well apps for all mobile platforms. You can also attend Skype for Business meetings with nothing more than a modern browser.

Download Skype for Business across all your devices

All Skype for Business chat conversations are automatically recorded within each users inbox for later reference and is also interfaced directly to each users Outlook so they can schedule meetings with others directly from their personal calendar. When they don’t have access to their Outlook calendar they can use the Outlook Web Scheduler to create meetings for anyone, inside or outside the business, to attend. Skype for Business meetings can also be recorded and output from those recordings could be uploaded to Office 365 Video for internal use or YouTube if for public consumption.

Now Skype for Business is probably more about immediate communications, much like using a phone. It is however going to eliminate many of those annoying emails that require only a simple response. For communications that you want to be more persistent, in that people can revisit topics at their leisure, you probably want to consider something like Yammer.

Yammer is an enterprise social network that allows people to post information and others to comment on it. Information appears in user’s feeds as part of their membership of different groups within the Yammer network.

The Business of Yammer

Yammer allows the posting of text discussions, images, links, videos and so on. It also supports standard social networking features such as ‘@’ mentions and ‘hashtags’ to allow people to easily focus on relevant information. Yammer also allows you to create internal or external groups, typically focused on a single topic. These groups can be have their access restricted to only designated members (for example management).

Getting Started with Yammer

There are Yammer apps on all platforms and on a desktop you simply access Yammer via a browser. When a user looks at their Yammer they will see all messages directed to them as well as other relevant messages they have not have directly participated in as yet.

The real bonus about Yammer information is that it is easily searchable using the search box in the top left hand corner of the browser page. This makes it quick and easy to locate information.

By making information that was once siloed public in Yammer it makes it easier for people to not only find the information they need but also share with others. Why email when you can Yammer?

The final option to look at here is the new Microsoft Teams, which can be thought of as basically a combination of the features of Skype for Business and Yammer with SharePoint also thrown into the mix. With Teams, messages are persistent like they are in Yammer but it is extremely easy to jump into a direct video conference using Skype for Business from Teams.

Teams also has apps on all devices, including a dedicated version for Windows 10 now!

Teams is more a collaboration solution than a pure communications service. However, most collaboration challenges require communications, so Teams is probably the right place to start if you are looking at sharing and working on files and documents, even down the track.

The great thing about Office 365 is these are only a few of the services that you can use to help make your employees more connected and productive in real time. The other great thing is that many of the services detailed here are integrated through the rest of the Office 365 suite. For example, in SharePoint Online, you can see who last modified a file and quickly launch a Skype for Business conversation with them as you can see directly whether they are online.

Working out what the right tool or tools are for organisation is probably something you’ll discover over time and with experience. However, services like Skype for Business and Yammer are a great place to start when it comes to easing the burden of email overload on staff.

Watch out for the answers to more common questions with Office 365 coming soon.

Advice from a reforming hoarder


One the biggest challenges we face in this time of abundance is accumulating “stuff”. So many, myself included, have far more “stuff” that we need or can ever use. If you set your mind to it you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you can actually get rid of. Less stuff means less to worry about, less to store, etc, etc. The benefits are endless.

Our accumulation of “stuff” also bleeds across into our digital lives. Don’t believe me? How many digital photos have you got stored away somewhere that you have never looked at and are unlikely to every look at? One your computer? On your phone? In the cloud? I’ll bet plenty. Now think about some of your business processes in light of the technology you use.

One of things that I see with many businesses is that they never in fact ‘replace’ processes with new technology, they simply ‘add’ new technology to what they already have. Why? Of course it is human nature to desire remaining with the familiar, but doing so comes at a price. That price is ‘accumulating more unnecessary ‘stuff’.

A good example I recently came across was the implementation of Yammer, an enterprise social network available via Office 365. Many businesses now have access to Yammer but they fail to really integrate it into their business. Why? Because they view it as an addition to their businesses processes rather than a way of actually replacing an older system they have.

What do I mean? Take the example of reporting something unsafe in the workplace. An older approach might have been to submit a report, attend a committee meeting or request help from another team. All of that takes time and is generally a very siloed process. Now imagine what may be possible if you replaced that whole process using a tool like Yammer.

In this case, someone finds an issue and posts a message, including photos, to a dedicated public Yammer group. The responsible business group can then view the information, request further clarification or details as well as solicit input from other parties, all in one location. Everything remain visible to all parties at all times. Best thing is because all of that information is public, it is searchable at any time in the future, providing ongoing business value.

Not fully adopting a new system leaves overhead that not only slows down the process but also makes it more complex for those involved. The simpler things are, the less mistakes are made and the fewer things break.

We have a tendency in this modern world to accumulate ‘stuff’. We do exactly the same with technology. There is a widespread failure to implement new technologies as replacements for old processes. We want the new but hold onto the old and typically end up with twice what we need to get the job done. That is inefficient. Technology has then become something that encumbers rather than enables.

Next time you implement or evaluate a new technology for your business, consider it in light of what it can replace. What processes can this new technology actually help you replace completely rather than just supplement? This can be challenging but when you start living in a world of less you soon find there is room for so much more.

The 600 pound social media gorilla has entered the room


Social media giant, Facebook, has just announced it’s new business social media platform called Workplace which you read about here:

introducing Workplace by Facebook

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a big thing and many are asking what impact this might have on Microsoft Yammer? Before I share my thoughts on that specific topic let make some other general observations first.

The reason this is a big deal is the fact that Facebook is major part of a massive amount of people’s personal day. Previous, Facebook had been aimed at the individual user but that has now changed. Sure, many people used Facebook for business but mostly they were using it to promote their business rather that using it as part of their business. Workplace changes this focus dramatically.

With Workplace, Facebook is providing businesses a dedicated tool for them to use to communicate socially inside their business. Yes, there are already other platforms that do this but Facebook’s huge consumer reach provides an unprecedented level of familiarity and penetration. This means adoption for Workplace will pretty much be a no-brainer for businesses that adopt it.

I reckon the biggest threat Workplace poses is for existing one off messaging platforms like Slack and Hipchat. Facebook may not be the best in town but it is by far the biggest and is positioned very nicely to squash these smaller players.

So where does that leave a product like Microsoft Yammer? There is no doubt that it will put pressure on Yammer but only if you see Yammer as a stand alone platform. Yammer is fast becoming simply another component of Office 365. Business collaboration is more than just messaging or sharing links and photos. It is about documents, calendars, lists, tasks, emails and more. This is where you need to look at Yammer as only part of the solution Office 365 provides for collaboration.

Microsoft Yammer inside Office 365 not only has greater collaboration features but also greater governance, reporting and security. This is something many businesses really want. So again, you need to look at Workplace vs Yammer in the wider context of Workplace vs Office 365. At that point you see how much more Office 365 offers any business.

The great thing is that Workplace is going to place even more legitimacy on social being acceptable within a business. It is going to be readily adopted by millennials who have grown up with Facebook and are now the dominant component of the workforce. It is going to mean decreasing dependence on email as a business communications medium as well as make more information public rather than siloed.

The flow on effect will in fact benefit Yammer and the overall Office 365 product I believe. Why? Because, even though Workplace may be great and many business may adopt it, it is still really only a single product designed for a single task. Whereas Office 365, that already includes a social network, provides a single identity and shared information access across a range of services. Integration is a key factor going forward with technology for businesses today. No matter how good a single product is, unless it integrates easily, then it’s value starts to fall away quickly.

Also if Workplace did “everything” then why did Facebook adopt Office 365 inside it’s own business?

Why Facebook is betting on Office 365 and the Microsoft Cloud

Workplace doesn’t do everything, that’s why.

Yes, Workplace provides a solution but it isn’t as broad or as deeply integrated as Office 365 is today and moving into the future. I can see some businesses choosing to use Yammer with Office 365 for superior integrated collaboration just as much as I can see others using Workplace and Office 365 together. I’d also be betting on close integration between the two products to provide superior access for those users when compared to others using stand alone third party services like Slack.

So I think announcement Workplace is sounding the changing of the guard in business. That is, away from email and towards social. I think it is going to have a major impact on the market and will disrupt many, especially existing smaller, single product providers. Workplace will certainly provide a challenge to Yammer, however when you consider the ongoing integration of Yammer deeper into the Office 365 suite, I actually believe it will potentially increase demand for a fully integrated product like Office 365.

We’ll see what the future brings but if nothing else, it once again means to me the game is shifting and those who don’t also shift as well are destined to lose