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How Yammer and Office 365 will make you a better Jedi Knight

Office 365 has officially launched.  Make no mistake, this is a big deal for enterprise social.  Later this month, I’ll be doing a webinar around Microsoft’s direction in that space with Rob Koplowitz of Forrester Research (you can sign up here).  The latest reports published by Mr. Koplowitz and his team have taken a hard look at SharePoint adoption and challenges it may face in the future, and one thing they’ve called out is the importance of the cloud and continued innovation in making this happen.  If it’s not clear by now, it should be obvious that Office 365 and Yammer are a big key to that.
When I was at Microsoft, there was something they called the “Future of Productivity” vision.  It was basically the roadmap for where Microsoft would be going with Office, SharePoint, and the rest of the productivity product family.  The acquisition of Yammer changed that vision profoundly– but not conceptually.  The concept was already there.   What Yammer provides is the glue that makes the vision possible. The Star Wars geek in me is tempted to equate Yammer with the Force, because it’s the unifying element that binds everything together.
Microsoft views cloud-based social business tools—through Office 365 and Yammer— as the way people interact, the place they come together with others, with data, and with mash-ups that enhance communication and collaboration on and with valuable information.  The most important development in Office 365’s social story is the integration of Yammer’s social features to significantly augment SharePoint Online (and vice versa).  SharePoint Online activity can easily be consumed and surfaced by the Yammer newsfeed as one of many information sources.
Additionally, Yammer has existing connections to many other solutions, both Microsoft (Dynamics CRM) and other (Salesforce, etc.) that require customization to work with SharePoint.  External connections of this nature are primarily accomplished via OpenGraph—a standard developed by Facebook to introduce the consumer web into their social environment.  This has major positive implications for the growth of Yammer’s app directory and development community.
Beyond the out-of-the-box social features of SharePoint 2013 in its Online mode, Yammer has the advantage of an “app directory” where third-party developers provide extended solutions for elements like gamification.  Yammer further offers out of the box mobile solutions for all major mobile OS’s.  If you’re looking to move forward with enterprise social, Microsoft and Yammer allow your users to be social wherever they are, on any device.  It’s a pretty convincing story when you see it in action.
Beyond what’s available today, directionally there is a lot still in store.  Microsoft has told us several times, both in the immediate wake of the acquisition and as a major messaging point throughout SharePoint Conference 2012, that Yammer will be used to bind your activity in Office and other applications together into a single, social interface.  Here, you’ll be able to interact with your colleagues and your data– and through predictive search-based content delivery, find what they’re doing where it’s most valuable– in one easy-to-get to place, on any device you choose.
I think that’s a pretty solid way to be sure that the Force will be with you. Always.

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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions and internet sites with an emphasis on stellar user and customer experiences since 1997. Rich is a National Director for Content and Commerce Platform work in Perficient Digital. One of the rare breed of strategists to truly understand both the business needs of the customer and the platforms that serve them, he is a keen advocate for and accomplished speaker/writer on issues that surround that inflection point. His work has been published on CMSWire, Sitecore and Microsoft partner blogs, and his own LinkedIn page as well as our various blogs here at Perficient, and he has spoken at multiple major conferences including Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014. Married and a father of five, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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