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Yammer Sign-in Now Tied with Office 365

Keeping up with the roll out momentum, Microsoft released a significant feature last week which allows you to use your existing Office 365 credentials to access Yammer. It essentially provides the same experience as when using OneDrive for Business, Outlook, and SharePoint.

yammer signin

 

Here are some facts which will help you understand what’s covered in this release:

  • The easiest way to know when this is coming to your tenant is to check the announcement in the Office 365 message center (if your tenant fulfills the requirements). Expected rollout is slated to start in December. The global menu will change and Yammer will be included and styled as the other Office 365 services. e.g. Outlook or SharePoint.
  • This feature will support many of the scenarios previously covered with Yammer SSO, but it doesn’t cover DirSync. Yammer DirSync will still be required. Microsoft is continuing to invest in Azure AD integration and have plans that cover Dirsync in the future. Note that some of the Yammer SSO scenarios are not yet covered with Office 365 login. These scenarios are covered in the documentation here.
  • When you connect to Yammer, you’ll be routed to the Microsoft login screen, enter your credentials there and then you would be redirected to your company’s ADFS server for authentication. You will be then redirected back to Yammer after ADFS authentication.
  • If the email address used to create a Yammer account is not part of your Office 365/AAD account, then the account won’t be mapped and you will continue to login using Yammer login.
  • Longer term as Microsoft continue to deepen the Yammer, Office 365, and Azure Active Directory integration, expect Office 365 active directory sync, Yammer DirSync and O365 DirSync be combined in the future.
  • A new option to synchronize from Azure AD (rather than on-premises AD) is on the backlog.

 

Hopefully you are as excited as I am with this announcement; Happy Yammering!!

 

Expanding Data Loss Prevention Across Office 365

Continuing from my previous post on Information Rights Management (IRM), today we will focus our discussion at yet another security feature which is essentially part of customer controls, known as Data Loss Prevention aka DLP.

DLP provides users with policy tips and detects sensitive information in the context of communication. DLP was first rolled out in Exchange and Outlook and then expanded into Outlook Web App (OWA). The only problem was that email is not the only way to share information. A ton of information in this digital age is shared via documents and keeping that in mind, DLP was expanded into SharePoint Online (SPO) and OneDrive for Business (ODFB). Until now eDiscovery allowed us to search sensitive content across SharePoint and OneDrive and now policy actions (restrict and block access) and email notifications are also being introduced.

Source: blogs.office.com

Source: blogs.office.com

With the advent of Office 365, the Microsoft community has become increasingly collaborative in nature, and product teams are now more agile and communicative in their approach than ever before. Building on that approach, recently Microsoft conducted a yamjam around DLP features. Some great scenarios, concerns, and solutions were exchanged. Here is my attempt to capture and summarize that for you.

—————————————————————————

Q: Will DLP be a supplement or replacement to IRM and auditing mechanisms in SharePoint? And in what way will it supplement to IRM and or auditing.

A: DLP is a great supplement for IRM today. Both of these functionalities work seamlessly in Exchange and we are extending that same experience for SPO/ODFB

Q: Will DLP have effect on the content that is shown, or not shown, in Delve

A: That is absolutely our vision. Delve adheres to the user permissions set by your admins and end users, and we will respect the same when it comes to DLP.

Q: Will DLP be a part of the announced Dropbox partnership? Extending to Dropbox for business

A: Currently DLP functionalities are planned only for ODFB/SPO and not Dropbox.

Q: Will DLP be able to enforce IRM on documents that match a policy? 

A: That is definitely in our plans and you can expect us to release that in the service in early 2015

Q: If I want to make sure my policy is enforced on all content all users should have a sufficient license?

A: Yes, you need as many DLP licenses as the number of users. DLP is licensed on per user basis.

Q: How can we protect documents that contain trade secrets or company plans from being uploaded to OneDrive and then downloaded to home computers? These are random documents that may not have specific information to search for. What is to keep users from uploading a mass amount of documents and then downloading them at home?

A: The next level is to apply Rights Management Service (RMS) policies for all content that lands in that area. You can further protect using IRM from within the client and establish a further depth of what can/can’t be done, and possibly further restrict who. Next up is setting policy rules with #dlp that again help to inform and enforce actions that are and are not allowed. In the future we’ll have additional tools via MDM to help protect and reclaim/delete content that can no longer be on devices. Additionally, we’re planning auditing and reporting capabilities so admins can run reports to understand better how content is being used (shared, modified, viewed, etc.).

Q: Is OneDrive for Business a supported application by Azure RMS?

A:  IRM works today for documents on ODFBso yes, Azure RMS works for OneDrive for business. There are some fixes we are making for IRM protected libraries so that it syncs seamlessly just like any other library

Q: ODFB Management : For ODFB and IRM, it seems to be cumbersome to turn on IRM and with certain policy settings like “Allow users to print”. Plus, it does not seem to reference centralized IRM policies like you would expect with Azure RMS because you just name your own policy and do not select from a dropdown list. Is this because IRM on ODFB is not really supported by Azure RMS yet? And is this expected to change sometime soon?

A: ODFB is certainly covered, and is a manual process today from the scope of an audit or configuration of IRM. The concern you have is valid and is something the teams are aware of for auditing, eDiscovery, DLP scenarios. We don’t have timing to share, but we do want to treat ODFB as included by default, not something you have to configure for broader application

Q: If we have 10 users on E3 and 40 users on Business Essentials, do the messages created by the 40 Business Essentials users get evaluated by DLP? What about the server-side processing? If a non-E3 user sent a message that violates a DLP rule, would it be blocked, or would it be sent to the recipient?

A: DLP does require E3, so the non-E3 users would not get a DLP experience, aka the tool tips coming early next year. No, you need to have DLP licensing to enable server side and client side processing for sensitive content. So for eg, in exchange today, every time you use the “the message contains sensitive information” predicate, you need DLP license.

Q: We have a system that generates PDF reports and emails them via SMTP. We use DLP to block the messages from being forwarded but we would like to apply document level IRM as it enters the system via SMTP?

A: Look at adding a document library into your solution. You could then add additional capabilities if above needs a little more.

Q: Can you please elaborate on the phrase “with additional policy controls and actions like Information Rights Management, coming in the first quarter of 2015″ from the 10/28 blog post on DLP? What might this mean in terms of capabilities?

A: In our initial release for SPO policies, you will have actions such as block or request access when someone uploads a document. With RMS action, you will be able to automatically apply IRM action to the uploaded document if the document contains sensitive information.

Q: What will happen if a document is accessed through an API using custom coding? Will DLP apply?

A: If the content is stored in a location that is subject to a DLP policy, such as SharePoint – then yes the changes will be scanned and subject to the DLP requirements in the policy.

Q: Will Microsoft provide a way to automatically add ODFB sites (as they are provisioned) to DLP scope?

A: Yes, you can configure a DLP policy to apply to “all” OneDrive for Business sites, which will automatically include new sites as they are provisioned.

Q: <em?Will the fact that IRM is applied to a document be able to overwrite DLP actions? For instance if IRM is applied with ‘lower’ restrictions, van DLP apply more restrictieve restrictions? Consider this example: IRM can be configured by Site Admins, so a site admin makes a library for contracts. He configures very little restrictions. At company (DLP) level we have a very strict policy and want to override what the site admin on lower level set up.

A: We currently do not allow IRM policy override. This is an interesting feature request. will be available when our policy actions are available in early 2015.

Q: We found the mobility use case to be painful as iOS and Android devices cannot open IRM protected documents minus a few exceptions like PDFs with a purchased app. When is this targeted to change to where the Office Mobile apps will support IRM protected documents?

A: It works great today for email across OWA for devices, Outlook, Outlook for MAC, OWA etc and you can expect us to add the same functionality across Office documents. IRM works today for documents on ODFB so yes Azure RMS works for OneDrive for business.

Q: With an increasing number of non-technical small business users, what is the plan to give true user account management to Global Admins in O365? This weekend we had to terminate a long time employee who lives in a different state. I checked every source for clear guidelines and documentation surrounding this is nearly non-existent. There is no simple way to prevent loss of information other than resetting the user password. If “blocked” then we could not go into Exchange Online or ODFB to back up information. If we remove licenses, we lose all data. If we turn mailbox into shared, we lose auto archive folder/ability. We cannot backup to a PST due to auto archive as well. Four days after the fact, we learned that resetting the password means they can still have access to any sessions of mail, CRM, SharePoint that have not expired. How are we supposed to manage security under these conditions? Please advise when your 100% “cloud first/mobile first” O365 Online small business customers can expect to have the right tools to terminate an employee while preventing any data loss.

A: The scenario you describe is well covered in the enterprise, where we have additional value in the E1-E4 plans. And I’m guessing you know this, but want to be clear that all the compliance tools like RMS, DLP, eDiscovery … they are only offered to enterprise. It is very common to find smaller businesses using the enterprise plans when their needs require the more robust compliance capabilities. Consider upgrading your plan to enterprise. This article should get you started: I can tell you that you can recover documents. You would need to assign a secondary user who can then go into users’ ODFB. You can do this today here: SPO admin center > user profiles > Set up MySites > My Site Cleanup – and then add a secondary owner.

Here’s the text from in-product once you get to this admin setting, “My Site Cleanup”. When a user’s profile has been deleted, that user’s My Site will be flagged for deletion after fourteen days. To prevent data loss, access to the former user’s My Site can be granted to the user’s manager or, in the absence of a manager, a secondary My Site owner. This gives the manager or the secondary owner an opportunity to retrieve content from the My Site before it is deleted. Select whether or not ownership of the Site should be transferred to a manager or secondary owner before the site is deleted. Set a secondary owner to receive access in situations in which a user’s manager cannot be determined.

Q: Any plans to add DLP to Yammer? For instance if a user decides to share his credit card number on Yammer he will get a policy tip; Such as not allowing videos to be downloaded (but only to be viewed), to making sure that PII is not being shared inadvertently in healthcare or insurance companies. You can overcome these things with peer governance but it would be great to have some tech in place too.

A: Definitively something that we are thinking about. What kind of scenarios would you like to see if/when this would happen?

Q: When or will Data Loss Prevention (DLP) become available in the On-Premise version of SharePoint?

A: We’re not ready to discuss any portion of SharePoint Server vNext (on-premises) and what will be included. That said, there are a number of 3rd party solutions today that can be integrated with SharePoint already.

Using Social Insights to Engage Customers

Today at Customer Engagement World in New York, Jana Kanyadan, CIO of Mohawk Industries, spoke about how they use social insights to engage customers. Mohawk, now with 32,100 employees, makes flooring and was founded in 1878 in New York. Jana started out showing a typical customer journey – today 92% start with a Google search. Almost half of consumers choose a flooring product without ever physically touching it first.

For a Mohawk customer, they will engage many times throughout their lifetime – flooring is not a purchase-once activity. Mohawk uses real-time customer insight plus end-to-end process execution to grow profitable customers.

They have 3 key audiences and all of these people need to have a common experience:

  • End Consumers – Mohawk provides a personalized content through insights. They spend a lot of time understanding social analytics and analyzing engagement. They also provide customer communities. Jana talked about how they sold a rug in 20 minutes starting with one customer tweeting about needing a new rug. The social engagement team responded with a recommendation and got the consumer to go to the website to purchase.
  • Channel Partners – here they provide enhanced intimacy across all channels. Partners have self service and automation.  Mobile is used everywhere.  They also implemented closed loop lead management for their partners. Just like consumers, Mohawk offers partner communities where partners can collaborate with other commercial partners.
  • Sales & Store Managers – Mohawk changed CRM 180 degrees.  The old CRM required sales people to do a lot of work.  Now they send information to the salespeople. They receive a lot about their customers and competition. The sales people receive a lot of analytics about what customers are talking about through social media. Sales and stores have a seamless experience with the other audiences.

Mohawk started with traditional CRM many years ago and realized that it was not making sales people effective. CRM for Mohawk has been evolving into something that starts with analytics and provides consumable information to the sales people rather than requiring sales people to fill in data for Mohawk. About 8 months ago Mohawk started on the path to alter the idea of CRM to the analytics-driven platform described above.

Some challenges Jana identified include:

  • Executing tactics to achieve vision – there are a lot of moving parts that need to be integrated and a break down anywhere can be a major inhibitor
  • Making tools easy enough to use so they can take advantage of the capabilities

Read the rest of this post »

Customer Engagement: Harnessing Disruption

This week I’m attending Customer Engagement World in New York. “The Customer is the New Boss” is Lawrence Dvorchik’s theme for Customer Engagement World. But hasn’t the customer always been the boss? We always say customer is the boss, but our engagements methods rarely reflect this. Too often companies are trying to engage in a one-way stream of communications to customers and potential customers without having a great way to make that a two-way stream.

Ryan Craver, senior vice president of strategy at Hudson’s Bay Company, opened CEW with his keynote “Harnessing Disruption.” First Ryan talked about what he means by disruption. Companies typically talk about how to cause disruption, buy usually come up with marketing programs that don’t engage customers directly.

Ryan Craver

There are 3 key enablers to disruption today:

  1. Connectivity – by 2020 80% of adults will have smartphones.  Think about disruption caused by connected devices and applications – Uber, OpenTable, etc.
  2. Scalability – infinite computing resources are becoming available.
  3. Distribution – limitless touch points and borderless commerce via Amazon, Etsy, etc.

All of these enablers have created customers who demand instant access, instant service and instant deliver.

Ryan identified 3 main disrupting trends:

  • Channel Irrelevance
    • Retail foot traffic has dropped, yet retail sales have remained strong and exceeded inflation.
    • Ecommerce is not dictated by age – every one does it.
    • Mobile Commerce is driving eCommerce.  mCommerce is expected to increase by 157% by 2018.
    • Eye share has dramatically shifted: In four years, TV has decreased 11% and Online has increased 59%.
    • Customer preference for channel varies by department, so you need to cover all channels.  (See A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study July 2014.)
    • The net: Each customer has adopted disruption in a different way.
  • Social Media has become Social Commerce
    • Social commerce is finally here after 7-8 years of growth.
    • We now spend 37 minutes per day on social networks, eclipsing email and all other forms
    • Everyone is bullish on many social networks
  • Mobile with Location

    Mobile Beacon

    • Mobile has arrived – in 2014 mobile growth has grown over 500% for accessing digital content
    • Apps vs Sites. Time spent on mobile apps is high, but most of that time is spent on gaming, messaging and social media.
    • Commerce and Shopping get about 1.5 hours per month and has only grown 12% YOY.
    • App selection is overwhelming making it difficult for apps to gain scale.  Apple’s store has over 1.5m apps and games and over 80% maybe “zombie” apps.
    • Not a question of one or other, retailers must have both.  Mobile apps and mobile sites are used for different purposes.
    • Mobile empowers customers in-store. Customers are willing to share location if provided offers, deals or points. However if you ask them to share their phone number, most will balk at it.
    • Using mobile location drives more purposed feet.  Banners conversion is very low. Geo Push based on customer proximity is marginally better, but still low.  Beacons provide much better conversion.
    • Net: beacons are driving highly personalized, intent based content and advertisements.

Here are Ryan’s key takeaways on how to harness disruption:

  1. Unapologetic pursuit of understanding and satisfying the customer
  2. Adopt innovation as a corporate wide virus
  3. Relentless understanding of market and technology trends impacting the customer.

Read the rest of this post »

Introducing the Yammer Share Button

We’ve all seen the social media buttons on websites or blogs that are used to share content to another site. If you are unfamiliar, check out the buttons to the right of this blog post.

Today, Microsoft has introduced this functionality for Yammer! Read the full announcement here.

ShareIconMarquee_FINALbYou can now share useful web content directly with your network. All you need to do is embed some simple code into your website to enable the sharing. It does not require any advanced skills or developer application registration with Yammer, so you will be able to get up to speed very quickly.

Check out the full details on the Yammer Developer site.

How Secure is Your Cloud? – Introduction to Office 365 Security

Who owns the data we store in your service? Will you use our data to build advertising products? Do you offer privacy controls in your service? Do we have visibility to know where our data is stored? Can we get our data out of your service if we decide to leave?

These questions are top of mind for any organization that is considering Office 365. Luckily for you, Microsoft publishes the Office 365 Trust Center to answer those and many more questions about security on the Office 365 service.

Office 365Microsoft has 4 core tenants for its approach to earning and maintaining your trust:

1. Built-in Security

  • Service-level security through defense-in-depth
  • Customer controls within the service
  • Security hardening and operational best practices

At the service level, Office 365 uses the defense-in-depth approach to provide physical, logical, and data layers of security features and operational best practices. In addition, Office 365 gives you enterprise-grade, user and admin controls to further secure your environment.

Physical Security – 24-hour monitoring of data centers, Multi-factor authentication, including biometric scanning for data center access, Internal data center network is segregated from the external network, Role separation renders location of specific customer data unintelligible to the personnel that have physical access, Faulty drives and hardware are demagnetized and destroyed

Logical Security – Lock box processes for strictly supervised escalation process greatly limits human access to your data, Servers run only processes on whitelist, Read the rest of this post »

Microsoft Azure SharePoint Architectures

Are you interested in cloud services, but aren’t quite ready to move all your data to a public, multi-tenant environment? Do you have a development or test environment that is costing you too much money to create/migrate/upgrade/maintain? Do you have a need to implement Disaster Recovery for your on premises SharePoint deployment?

You may be interested to know that Microsoft Azure IaaS (infrastructure as a service) provides many different hosted SharePoint options. Azure is a good environment for hosting a SharePoint Server solution. In most cases, we recommend Office 365, but a SharePoint Server farm hosted in Azure can be a good option for specific solutions.microsoft-azure-logo_11368901

Let’s have a look at a few examples and why they might be a good fit for Azure:

1. Development and test environments

Dev and test environments can be costly. They require hardware resources that your infrastructure team must manage and maintain. They also require human time in configuring, updating, and patching those servers. With Microsoft Azure, it’s easy to create and manage Dev and Test environments that can be scaled, easily updated, and deleted/recreated if necessary. Read the rest of this post »

Yammer’s Enterprise Social Resource Center

Would you like to grow your business by working like a network? Would you like to connect your workforce to inspire a culture of collaboration and open communication? Did you know that engaged employees lead to higher profits?

Microsoft has just the tool for you – Enterprise Social Resource Center

The site has a plethora of great information to help you get started with your Social implementation. From white papers and Harvard Business Review articles to how-to guides and customers success stories, these educational resources will help you learn how to work like a network and succeed with Enterprise Social technologies.

3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Enterprise Social

Addressing the top challenges facing your business today with the power of enterprise social networking: disengaged employees, inefficient collaboration, and sustaining business growth. Read the rest of this post »

Meet Yammer, Your Answer to Project Collaboration!

Yammer has a full range of features to help you communicate openly and expedite decision making, open new collaboration channels and breakdown email silos. Let’s start looking at our current ways of communicating with our team. A typical project is slated to begin and end with a vision and goal. In order to achieve these, it’s essential to have transparent and effective communication. Throughout the project lifecycle, we engage in numerous communication channels whether they are phone calls, emails, video calls, messenger chats etc. We are so engaged in making the project a success that we end up overseeing the numerous hours spent communicating with internal team or external customers. This is where Yammer steps in. The idea is not to replace each and every channel but to reduce the time spent and make it more effective so you can reach maximum throughput.

Three main reasons why would you consider using Yammer for internal and external collaboration are ease of use, mobile app, and collaborating with external users. Yammer can move your team beyond the hierarchical and glacial-paced decision making that can hobble a project’s progress. You can set up a private Yammer group where your team can conduct online conversations around important project elements; this allows each team member to be part of the decision-making process. To keep things in perspective, I will share a use case from one of my recent customer engagements. Delivery success is measured by how well the deliverables and activities match the agreed upon vision and goal objectives. One of the first sessions in these engagements is the project kick off. This meeting involves all the stakeholders of the project and establishes a sense of common goals and allows us to start understanding each individual. This is where all communication channels are discussed and confirmed and ultimately where Yammer can be introduced.

Today, I’ll share my firsthand experience of using Yammer as a project collaboration platform and showcase its value with a real world use case.

One of the biggest frustrations I face at the start of every project is the ton of emails exchanged, many times with attachments and their different versions end up choking my inbox. This is where Yammer comes to rescue. Follow these three basic steps and you will never go back to traditional ways of project management.

  1. Create an Internal Yammer Group
  2. Create an External Network
  3. Invite Members and Start Sharing

 

1. Your Internal GroupInternalGroup1

This will enable daily communication within our team. Drafts of documents, questions, clarification everything can be posted in the internal group.

  • Tagging People – Helps notify the right individuals and keep the noise from others inbox. All our posts were targeted to the group and at least one team member. This generates a notification for the tagged individual.
  • Tagging Content – Helps to find information when needed most. You’ve got to love the subscription model, and this is where it is most powerful. Subscribe to any topic and you are then fed all conversations around that topic on your home screen.
  • Ask a Question – Every project has issues and gaps and Yammer is your best bet to get those straightened out quickly. We made sure any question that involved more than two individuals is posted in the internal group. You will be amazed at how quick and effective this approach can be.
  • Upload Deliverables for Review – I have yet to meet someone who enjoys receiving multiple versions of documents (and sometimes huge slide decks) in their inbox followed by performing a clean-up activity. We used Yammer to share all project related documents which helped us unclog our inbox and tag the content with topics and people for appropriate notification.

Now, when you are ready with your deliverables, move them over to the external group for sharing. This keeps separation between internal team and customer communications.

2. Create an External NetworkExternalNetwork1

Creating an external network will allow you to have an dedicated collaboration space with the customer.

  • Allows Yammer groups to collaborate on individual project and social needs.
  • Advantage of transparency and a quick communication channel.

 

 

 

ExternalGroup2

When you have an external network setup, go ahead and create a project group. This will enable you to focus all project related conversations inside a group. Add all team members to this group and mark it as “Public” or “Private” based on your needs.

 

3. Don’t forget to add team members and post your first message

Remember there might be few folks on your team who are not familiar or not comfortable with the concept of using Yammer for this purpose. Sharing documents, deliverables and posting questions will all act as an ice breaker. Start with some water cooler talk if nothing else (keep it relevant to your team or project though). Upload files directly to Yammer for sharing across the group. You can upload new versions of documents and let Yammer maintain control over previous versions.

Suggestions:

  • Mark your uploaded content as “official and read only” if you are working on projects in which documents are changed often. The “official and read only” designation is also an effective way to get team members past sticking to their own versions of project documents.
  • Equip your team members with one of Yammer’s mobile apps and they will have always-on channel to team discussions and files. Social collaboration does take a little extra convincing and showcasing but once you get people on board it’s a breeze. Reducing those chunky emails, not having to clear your inbox every now and then, quick response, level of engagement, and ability to search topics and documents makes it a sure shot winner.
  • Use groups to receive feedback and approval on project deliverables by including your stakeholders/sponsors in the “cc” while sharing the posts.

* If you are concerned about compliance and security when uploading documents, no need to worry, you can still use Yammer effectively. In circumstances like those, utilize SharePoint as the document repository and Yammer as the front end for all communications, post links to SharePoint document libraries and start a conversation. Even better, if you are on Office 365, all the group conversations are now integrated with the documents and sites.

Here at Perficient we have utilized Yammer in various scenarios.  Along with our certified customer success managers and admins, we continue to help our customers adopt and roll out  successful social networks. Please add your feedback and share your experience here if you have used this approach.

Could Yammer Supplant Your Intranet?

We see a lot of scenarios where clients are moving their intranets successfully to the Office 365 cloud with SharePoint Online.  This is the easiest, smoothest path to an social intranet on the Microsoft platform, due largely to the ever-closer relationship between Yammer and the rest of the services in Office 365.

That said,there are still plenty of enterprises out there who prefer to either keep their intranet on-premises, or not upgrade / migrate just yet.  Many of those organizations would still like to get their bang for the buck with Yammer, however, and need to figure out a solution for integrating those social features into their on-premises solution.

By far the most common way to accomplish this right now is through the use of the Yammer Embed functionality (or specifically for SharePoint, the Yammer app for SharePoint) to embed specific news feeds on specific sites.  This is easily the most obvious way to “socialize” an on-premises SharePoint intranet with Yammer.

That works, sure.  But it’s not all that elegant.  Too, if you’re using the Yammer app for SharePoint, this approach forces you to go in and update every Yammer feed when they update the app (which is a pain).

A more forward-thinking, less common but emerging approach to a social intranet is to actually use Yammer as the intranet home.

This is an example of truly embracing enterprise social and may require a complete rethink from a lot of organizations as to how they approach an intranet, but it’s the direction things seem to be going.  You make the social network your home, and instead of augmenting informational sites with social feeds, you augment social groups with links to informational sites using Pins and the Info window’s rich text / HTML editor feature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about it.  Here at Perficient, we’re in the midst of rolling out a new platform for time tracking, financials, and other fun line-of-business activity and reporting.  We have both a Yammer group stood up to support that rollout, and a more traditional SharePoint intranet site.

What we’ve found in this scenario is that the Yammer feed has actually supplanted the informational site because it’s a much faster and more responsive way for people to get answers and collaborate.  Links embedded in the Yammer page direct users back to SharePoint for the informational / non-collaborative content they need, but the social discussion and interaction is now the focus.

Of course, Yammer in general resists (i.e., doesn’t allow) any but the most basic customization.  Fonts, styles, navigation etc., are all locked in “as is”.  The only thing you can really change in Yammer is the header atop your page.  That means we lose some control over branding, but gain quite a bit in interaction and employee engagement.  For this use case, it’s a smashing success.

The question then becomes, “Can this approach work for an entire intranet, and not just one use case?”

To some extent, that depends on the users.  At the end of the day, it all depends on where they go when they log on in the morning.  Email?  The intranet?  Or their social network?  Get the ball rolling with enterprise social and people will start skipping over the intranet– it’s almost a given.  Use social to surface intranet content and the line starts to blur… which is a lot closer to where things are going in the cloud than it is to a hodgepodge of on-prem intranet sites with embedded social feeds.