Microsoft Bolsters Ties Between Yammer, Office 365 - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Bolsters Ties Between Yammer, Office 365

Three-stage process weaves Yammer's enterprise social network capabilities into Office 365, with additional bridges to SharePoint.

 8 Key Changes In Microsoft SharePoint 2013
8 Key Changes In Microsoft SharePoint 2013
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Almost a year ago, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Yammer for $1.2 billion and that the social networking platform would be integrated into the Microsoft Office division. Details on what that would look like --and what it would mean for SharePoint -- have been slow in coming, but Microsoft has now provided details on how Yammer will fit into the bigger Office picture.

This integration is something Yammer's CTO, Adam Pisoni, addressed in an interview with InformationWeek's The BrainYard in November. Although Yammer initially functioned as a separate "destination" for social interaction, he said, its future will revolve around integration with other applications people use to do their work: "The reality is people spend most of their time in Office."

At Microsoft's Convergence 2013 conference this week, company officials laid out plans for how Yammer will work with Office 365, Microsoft's on-demand productivity platform. According to a blog post by Jared Spataro, senior director, Microsoft Office division, this integration will happen in three stages: basic integration, deeper connections and connected experience.

1. At the basic level, starting this summer, organizations will have the ability to replace the SharePoint newsfeed in Office 365 with the Yammer newsfeed. In addition, the Yammer group app will be available in the SharePoint store, enabling users to embed a group feed into a SharePoint site.

2. In the fall, Microsoft will release an update to Office 365 that gives users the ability to get to Yammer directly from the Office 365 navigation bar. In addition, said Spataro, the user experiences of Yammer and Office 365 will "begin to converge," giving users the ability to collaborate on and share documents in a social framework.

3. The integration between Yammer and Office 365, and among Yammer and Office 365 and other Microsoft products, will increase in 2014, with updates coming every three months or so, said Spataro. "We'll start by simply deepening the connections between Yammer and Office 365 services, but over time these incremental enhancements will combine social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video and line of business applications in innovative new ways."

[ Want to know what's on Microsoft's mobility roadmap? See Windows Phone 8 Support To End In 2014. ]

So, where does SharePoint fit into all this? On premises, with connections to the Yammer app. "We recognize that a lot of SharePoint customers are still on premises," said Spataro in his blog post. "They're working on their upgrade plans and want to find a way to connect their Yammer network with their on-premises deployment of SharePoint 2013. ... The Yammer app in the SharePoint Store will be a valuable addition, allowing customers to create connections between Yammer groups and on-premises SharePoint sites."

Spataro also made it very clear where Microsoft's social business bread is buttered: "In my customer meetings over the last few months, people have often asked, 'What should I use for social? Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?' My answer has been clear: Go Yammer! Yammer is our big bet for enterprise social, and we're committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products."

At Convergence 2013, Microsoft also demonstrated Yammer working with its CRM platform, Dynamics CRM.

Do you see potential in Microsoft's integration of Yammer into its Office productivity apps? Could social capabilities be a distraction to end users? Please let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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