Is Yammer ready to be killed?

New “Groups” feature introduced in Office 365 is an alternative to Yammer groups. Office 365 groups are tightly integrated with other Office 365 apps like Calendar, OneDrive and AD.  Key features available in Office 365 groups are:

  • Conversations
  • Files
  • Calendar

Groups in Left Navigation Bar and New Group screen:

Yammer 01

Group Home Page:

Yammer 02


It seems that Microsoft is gradually porting Yammer features to Office 365. Only other feature I would like to see in Office 365 is News Feed along with some gamifications apps. Then it won’t make sense for O365 users to log into Yammer at all. In my opinion, Yammer will not survive in its current form.

In fact, it is always difficult to push enterprise users to adopt to an external social networking application like Yammer. Integrating social networking capabilities right into mainstream productivity and business apps will help enterprises to exploit somewhat benefits of social networking capabilities.


Employee Engagement: How Social Networking and Collaboration Technologies can help

According to Gallup “State of the Global Workplace” survey 2013, only 13 % employees are actively engaged in their workplace. This figure must be troubling for any business leader. Although there are many factors involved in engaging and motivating your employees, we will see how social and collaboration technologies can help business leaders to rally their staff around company vision.

There are different ways employee engagement can be defined. The way I define it is that you feel engaged at work place when you see a connection between yourself, your work, your company and broader society. If any of the link is missing, it impacts your interest and motivation level.  First, let’s see couple of complaints people have when they describe their workplace environment:

  • Feeling of not being listened
  • Lack of clarity around company strategy
  • Job at hand and skills/interests are not aligned
  • Lack of recognition for effort
  • No socialization opportunities at work place

To engage and motivate employees, business leaders have to look at it from multiple dimensions. Many factors may be contributing to low engagement levels. For example, it may be compensation strategy,  communication gaps between management and employees, team structure, company organization ,or any specific management practices being used.

In this digital age, technology can help a lot to alleviate lot of the complaints without incurring significant costs. In subsequent lines, we will see how social and collaboration technology can play its role to address each concern effectively.  Social Networking technologies have already proven their value in consumer space. Now it is time to exploit these benefits in business space.  Here are couple of the approaches that can be used to exploit social and collaboration technologies to enhance employee engagement. This is not the complete list as such about how these technologies can be used. You can tailor these approaches keeping in mind your specific context.

Communicating Company Vision and Strategy:

Often employees find it challenging to relate their work with broader company strategy and roadmap. They cannot see a link between what they are doing and what company is trying to achieve. Corporate Portal can be used for internal communications to share company strategy and how it relates to each department, team and individuals. CEOs can conduct online town hall meetings which can be broadcasted across whole company. CEOs can share broader strategy and explain why company is pursuing specific initiatives and projects .  This will help employees to see how they are contributing to broader company objectives.

Socialization Opportunities:

Often times, people have very well defined jobs and hence they get few interacting opportunities with other people in their workplace. They may become isolated from rest of the company and may know little about what is going on broadly in the company.  Enterprise Social technologies can be used here to create communities around specific topics.  These topics may be related to work or may be generic one. People can then join these communities based on their interest and share knowledge with other community members. This may enable people from different departments to collaborate informally and solve business problems which may not be directly related to their primary job. On other hand, it also creates socialization opportunities to build relationships among employees.

Performance Recognition:

If you have a corporate news feed in your corporate portal, a one line update by a manager, recognizing efforts and performance of an employee,  can do wonders for him as well as for rest of the employees. Public recognition, like this, simply sends a strong message to everyone that management recognizes all the efforts and work done by employees.

Regular Corporate Communication:

Sharing regular updates with employees keeps every one informed. Many times, information is not shared regularly with broader audience which creates communications gaps. People may be unaware of the new exciting project that fellow team is working on. You may be working on a problem which other team has already solved. Such scenarios also indicate opportunities for knowledge sharing. Managers sometimes send email updates which have limited impact. If something is shared on corporate news feed or portal, it stays there forever and has much more impact than occasional emails. Also, this gives a reason to everyone to visit corporate portal.

Opportunities to express yourself

In digital world, it is much easier to share your ideas and opinions. A corporate blog and wiki site can be used to create a platform where everyone can share his or her ideas and get feedback from fellow employees.

Like any other initiative, overdoing or doing it without proper control and oversight may have its own implications. There are specific best practices to make social initiatives successful but I will leave this topic for another day. One thing is sure that social and collaboration technologies have established their value in consumer space. It is up to the business leaders to decide how they can bring these technologies in business world and reap huge benefits out of it.