Yammer: Microblogging for the enterprise


Just a quick note about a new site / product a few of us have been trying out for the last few days called Yammer. What it boils down to is a microblogging platform that is a more robust, secure, and souped-up version of Twitter for the enterprise.

Yammer, a microblogging platform for the enterprise

It's restricted to your domain (initially, this is based on the email address you sign up with) for the Basic account type (this is what we currently have setup, completely free to try out), so if you're on the same domain as your colleagues, you should be able to join your shared company account easily after registering.

It's actually pretty neat app, with great cross-platform/device support, and it has support for a wide variety of features that you'd typically find in other enterprise applications, or heavier-duty microblogging applications like Jaiku or Pownce:

  • Ad-hoc user groups with RSS feeds and filtering by group
  • Direct (private) messages and @replies (public), Twitter-style
  • A dynamically-created staff organizational chart (very cool)
  • Support for file attachments, embedded images and link sharing
  • Built-in support for tagging (using a #hashtags-like syntax)
  • Integration of RSS feeds into your company's activity stream (interesting)
  • Officially-supported client apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, Firefox (plugin), and desktop (via Adobe AIR)
  • A clean, easy-to-use UI
  • Contact info and vCards for all participants

Yammer: Microblogging for the EnterpriseAnd that's just the free stuff. I'm not even sure what the paid accounts offer just yet. Yammer's membership plans are quite reasonably priced ($1/$5 per user, per month, depending on the plan), with a bunch of additional enterprise-friendly features.

It's been working smoothly (thus far), and I think it supplements what we have in our existing internal Sharepoint and Office Communicator (Lync) deployments nicely without overlapping too much in terms of raw functionality (which is a primary concern for us when evaluating any type of new company-wide communications application.)

There's a literal ton of debate, both internally and in the general corporate public, as to whether these kinds of microblogging tools are suitable for the workplace, especially if your organization, like us, already has both a knowledge management solution (Sharepoint) and an internal instant messaging solution (in our case, Office Communicator, although it requires us to be logged into a VPN to access.)

In a technologically-oriented organization like ours, I can see some definite value if we can properly complement our existing tools without replacing features we're already using. Yammer definitely has a leg up over using a public application like Twitter as it really suits the needs of an single organization much better, providing support for common internal activity streams, easy remote access on a variety of mobile devices, and a relatively low price-point.

To be fair, I'm not the final decision-maker in this case, I'm just providing suggestions for improved tool use within our organization. Yammer makes a good argument for itself and requires very little explanation or support. It remains to be seen whether it provides value or increases productivity here, but I'm impressed with the functionality I've seen so far so I'm more than willing to give it a chance. If you have experience using Yammer or other similar microblogging applications within the enterprise, we'd love to hear from you.

This post is a slightly revised version of one originally published on the Habañero Consulting Group blog.

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