I wanted to share a few recent changes to Yammer that you may have started to notice. Some of them are small or effected features that no one used. Others, like External Groups, are rather major updates. In addition, Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a leader in the Social Software space for the seventh consecutive year!!
1. External Groups
Because today’s teams often include customers, vendors, and partners, we want to make ongoing collaboration with stakeholders outside your organization with Yammer more seamless. External groups enables extended team members to participate fully on projects and initiatives with access to all the conversations and content in the group they belong to. At the same time, we’re making it possible to keep your network data safe and secure by creating a separate section for all external groups, requiring group admin approval for external members to join, providing the ability to implement Exchange Transport Rules (ETRs), and using clear indicators in the UI that alert users to the presence of external team members. We’ve also added functionality to data export to help verified admins see which files and conversations are accessible to external users.
As with external messages, external groups will be enabled for all customers but Yammer verified admins can opt their network out at any time in two ways: 1) you can block your users from inviting external people into external groups in your Yammer network; blocking users in this fashion ensures that content within your Yammer network will not be made visible to external users via external groups, and 2) you can use a logical firewall, which blocks external members from joining external groups on your Yammer network and users from joining external groups that belong to other networks.
Yammer will respect your existing settings, so if you’ve already opted out of external messages, there is no need to opt-out of external groups. Because external groups is built on the same architecture as external messaging, external messages must be enabled in order to receive the external groups capability.
We plan on shipping this feature starting in late November after a small beta test. Because we understand some admins will want to opt out of this feature, we will not be A/B testing external groups. We will be creating an external group on the Microsoft network and inviting users who’d like to try out the capability before it ships. In the coming weeks, we’ll start collecting names of those who are interested in the Office 365 Network Enterprise Social Service Updates group.
2. Optimizing Yammer for Teams
When we first set out to create Yammer, we started with the simple idea that information is more valuable when it’s shared. As an enterprise social network, Yammer revolutionized information sharing in the workplace by giving millions of people a platform to make their voices heard and discover what others across the company are working on.
Recently we announced Yammer’s on a mission to bring the benefits of open collaboration to teamwork. Since then, we’ve introduced Office Online integration for better document collaboration in Yammer; external messaging, which lets teams easily connect with people outside their company; and Yammer for Apple Watch to enable a whole new way of staying connected with your team. Today we’re unveiling another set of exciting changes to Yammer, including a fresh new look and feel that’s designed for teamwork from the ground up.
As teams spin up around a project or initiative, they need a way to filter out the noise and focus on the task at hand. Yammer groups provide a great setting for teamwork by empowering people to share and collaborate within the right context and with the right set of people. However, the default experience in Yammer to date has been the home feeds which were intended for broad network-wide sharing. To encourage teams to make Yammer groups their go-to destination, we’re delivering a number of UI enhancements and improving the experience inside groups. Some of the changes we’re delivering on the web include:
- Discovery feed—We’re updating the current home feed experience to focus on group updates and discovery. The renamed Discovery feed surfaces conversations you’re missing out on from relevant groups and enables you to stay connected to the most interesting content from other teams across your company. Updates in the Discovery feed clearly identify which groups the conversations come from and give you the ability to quickly navigate to and join the groups you’re not already a member of straight from the feed.
- Real-time group activity—We’re giving you better peripheral vision into your groups no matter where you are in Yammer. Real-time indicators in the left-hand navigation pane call your attention to group activity as it happens, alerting you to all your currently active groups and teammates.
- Immersive group experience—Because Yammer groups serve as a home base for teams, we’re giving them a greater sense of place and making them more engaging with a full-width header, a cleaner look to focus your attention on high impact activity and content, and a wider feed for your team conversations.
- Next Group notification—Getting through the most important updates in your groups quickly is key when you’re juggling multiple projects. When you’re done viewing the new conversations in each group, a banner appears prompting you navigate to your next group, so you can get through your projects faster.
- Group Updates feed—The Group Updates feed provides a simple workflow through relevant content in your groups, so you can catch up on urgent conversations and discover what others are working on. You can navigate easily between the feed and your groups, as well as join groups you’re not already a part of from the feed itself. The Group Updates feed will come to Android first with iOS following shortly after.
- Yammer for Apple Watch—As announced last week, Yammer for Apple Watch provides instant notification of your conversations and activities at a glance and lets you take quick action, so you have fewer to-dos at the end of the day. It’s a great companion app for the Yammer mobile and web experiences.
- Powerful new photo-sharing and markup—Translate images into action with the ability to attach multiple images at once and even mark up the parts of the images you want to call out with your finger to help others see what you see.
- Attach files from external file storage services—Yammer’s mobile apps let you find and attach all your files, including those stored on external services such as OneDrive and Dropbox, as well as files stored in Yammer and on your mobile device.
- Inline at-mentioning—Bringing others into the conversation has never been easier with inline at-mentioning now available on mobile. Yammer’s type-ahead functionality suggests people and groups to address while you compose your message, removing the need to at-mention them separately.
- Search and invite coworkers by email—Finding your coworkers on Yammer is possible, even if they haven’t started using Yammer yet. Searching by name or email enables you to find existing members and invite new members to join Yammer from your Yammer mobile app.
3. Feature Removals
As a part of Yammer’s ongoing efforts to clean up the UI and move toward a team-oriented experience, Yammer will be deprecating the following features: Twitter integration, Yammer Chrome Extension, Atom Feeds and Publisher Settings.
The Twitter integration and Chrome Extension features will no longer be supported due to low usage; additionally, Twitter integration was intended for broad network sharing and no longer fits into our new product direction focused around team collaboration. These features will be deprecated starting on October 31, 2015.
Atom Feeds can no longer be enabled in product, but users can receive feeds using Yammer’s REST API and converting the feeds to that format. This change will also happen on October 31, 2015. Similarly, while the Publisher Settings Feature, which lets users press the “Enter” key to submit a new post or reply to one, can no longer be enabled in product, users can post a new post or reply to one by clicking the “Post” button or pressing the Shift + Enter keys together. This feature will be deprecated within the next month or two.