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SPC 2014: Yammer External Networks, Engaging Customer and Partner

Our own Rich Wood spoke at the SharePoint Conference.  Many think of Yammer as only for employees of a specific company but as Rich points out, that’s limiting the technology.   Microsoft actually created a network just for the conference.  This is available to all Yammer users who are attendees of the conference.  That’s one good example.
I’ll post the slides here when Rich is done and we have the latest version.
Yammer External NetworksAn extranet is an external engagement tool. We are used to simple sharing or engagement but enterprise social means more than that.   It’s an social network.  Everyone within your enterprise should fit into this. If you use an extranet for customers or partners, you should let them engage with you or others from a social perspective.
What does an enterprise social network provide for you?

  • The promise of Social Networks will drive more effective reuse of content assets.
    • Example: a conversation from six months ago pops to the top of your feed because someone found it and commented on it.  Captured content has value.
  • ESN provides better and faster access to expertise
  • Richer and more valuable real-time interactions
  • Create a platform that can support collective action
  • Help you strive for a culture of innovation

Great benefits……. but need to do the same for our partner, vendors, and even customers

An extranet is :

  1. External facing. It’s not behind your secure fireal
  2. Secure – available to only invited users
  3. Collaborative with people outside your network

Key user cases include:

  • Document collaboration on shared projects, bids, work products
  • Many to Many communication channel for broadcast and conversation
  • Sharing rich media like large image files, drawings, video, etc.

Your first thought might be to use SharePoint but think about a couple things.  Do you want to use SharePoint and use Active Directory licenses for that?  Do you need to manage it on premise?
SharePoint: slower but full featured, doc collaboration, calendars, etc.
Yammer: fast and easy to setup, real time communications, how people live and work now.
Extranet: The best of both worlds.  Combine the two

How does Yammer fit these use cases?

Yammer has a tool for every situation.
Why Yammer?:

  1. It’s engaging your customer, partners, vendors, etc.  You can have a conversation but still control the dialogue and manage the message.
  2. Adoptability
  3. Interactivity
  4. Cloud advantages
  5. Mobile Accessibility
  6. Governance


You can gain rapid initial adoption.  It’s also really easy to turn your internal users who already use Yammer to the new external network.  Also, the same UI allows for familiarity to breed usability.  Newsfeed, groups, etc. remain the same.  It’s even extremely similar to Facebook’s approach to UI.


You can open up polls, ask questions, and encourage participation via a variety of communications channels..   It’s collaborative.  You can get feedback. Through all of that, you build shared ownership.  Partners would also add many to many engagement and even some camaraderie and shared accountability.
Proof point: Microsoft had a significant presence on Yammer even before they bought it.  The freemium model is a great way to engage early and quickly.


There are a number of advantages to Yammer on the cloud.

  • No need to manage Active Directory or pay for AD licenses
  • It’s accessible anywhere.  No VPN, No Citrix, No pain
  • Easy UI for your own teams
  • Log in once to Yammer and you get to your other networks right along with it.


Yammer provides native mobile apps on Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android.  It’s easy to rollout your Yammer extranet to everyone on any device.


No one is publishing 40 page governance documents for Yammer. (compared to SharePoint. The paid version does allow admin oversight.
Demo of an existing partner site
Perficient has a shared community with Microsoft and Rich demoed that network.

  • Only admins can invite users.  More control over the audience in the network
  • Define when to send out the “digest”
  • Share the org chart

Demo of a variety of settings

  • External network settings
    • Showed how to create an external network.  Very similar UI to the creation of a group in a network
    • You can define whether it’s an open or closed network.  Open allows all members to invite new members.  Closed means only admins can invite
  • Setup and config
    • You can change a variety of things like a message prompt, email settings, the url
    • You can enable features like files, 3rd party applications, Inline document viewer, org chart, ATOM feeds, leaderboards, and message translation.
    • Of course, you can delete the network at some point in time.
    • You can setup usage policies. It’s what you show users when they login for the first time. You may want to notify users that they don’t own the content or that some usage is not acceptable or that only specific people can use the network.
    • Bulk invites
    • Activity stream keys for 3rd party apps
    • Delete users.  What’s cool is that you can delete a user and keep their message or you can delete them and their messages
    • Block user: Kick them out
    • Setup monitoring of keywords.  This is more than just for bad language. You can use it for key words related to legal terms or patient health information terms
    • Export all the users and user activity. Can be useful for reporting or audit needs.
    • Analytics. They have a variety of KPI’s that can be useful
    • Data retention policies. You can define soft vs hard delete
  • External settings (local)
    • The success center provides great content and a set of checklists when you kick things off.
  • Usage policy
  • User settings
  • Content and security

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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