by December 17th, 2013on
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how a little-known feature of Yammer is poised to change the face of the Extranet workload as we know it. The External Network isn’t new, and it’s not a separate product– it’s simply another way to use Yammer, but this time with people outside of your organization.
We traditionally think of Enterprise Social Networks (or #ESN) as internal-facing tools providing social business solutions for the enterprise, and rightly so. External social is pretty well covered by the likes of Facebook, Twitter et al. But what those consumer sites don’t give us is a secure, manageable, governable space in which to not only communicate with, but collaborate with, our customers. Throw vendors and partners into the mix and suddenly you’re looking at a whole new development in the extranet space– Extranet 2.0.
This isn’t exactly rocket science if you know the tools well, but it came to me as a revelation of sorts when I was trying to work up a talk track for our “CIO-CMO Convergence” webinar with Rob Koplowitz over at Forrester. Mr. Koplowitz is a great speaker and an industry expert, so even more than usual, as a speaker I always feel challenged to bring my ‘A Game’ when I am teamed up with him. The problem for this one was that I somehow had to marry the concepts of #ESN and CIO-CMO Convergence… and that wasn’t easy. After all, what do CMOs care about internal-facing social tools? Aside from their own experience as users, they usually don’t. They’re all about the customer, and rightly so.
Then it struck me: Yammer’s features can extend to vendors, partners and yes– customers. In fact, Yammer and Microsoft both use them for this already, and I participate in several of those forums myself. As I trained up on Yammer administration and did some digging into the governance tools available, the usefulness of these External Networks as an Extranet replacement became crystal clear.
It’s so obvious, in fact, that I’m now speaking on the topic at SharePoint Conference 2014 in March. In that session, we’ll be learning not only how and why this is true, but also the ins and outs of how they work including live demos of setting up, configuring and governing External Networks. We will also discuss adoption strategy and how to get the most out of the platform’s intrinsically intuitive user experience.
In the meantime, I’ve also published an overview of the concept and my (admittedly rather bullish) outlook on its potential over at CMSWire this month. Check it out, and come out to see the session at SPC2014! You’ll be glad you did.