Yesterday Microsoft posted an update on their progress towards integrating Yammer with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. I’m traveling this week, but I still wanted to share my thoughts. This post summarizes the features Microsoft announced and is mostly a rough collection of my initial reactions. At the bottom of this post, I link to a recording of last week’s webinar and other relevant published research, which provide deeper analysis about the future of SharePoint and Yammer.
Specific deliverables announced by Microsoft
Microsoft announced several changes planned for Office 365 and SharePoint 2013. This is the company’s first update since revealing their plans at November’s SharePoint Conference.
Office 365’s first round of integration with Yammer is coming this summer
- Customers will be able to replace Office 365’s SharePoint newsfeed with a Yammer feed.
- The top menu “Newsfeed” link can be replaced with a “Yammer” link.
- A Yammer app will be available via the SharePoint Store to embed a Yammer group feed in a site.
This fall Microsoft will provide further integration
- Single sign-on across Office 365 and Yammer. Microsoft says this will offer “seamless navigation.”
- The Office 365 and Yammer experiences will “begin to converge.”
- The Office Web Apps will be embedded within Yammer, enabling users to view and edit files from within the browser experience.
- This summer Microsoft will provide “guidance for replacing the SharePoint newsfeed on-premises with Yammer.”
- Customers running SharePoint 2013 will be able to use the Yammer app (described above) within their local on-premises installations.
Overall, this is an important release for the SharePoint, Yammer, and Office 365 teams. Microsoft said that identity, document sharing, and activity streams were their first priorities. This update reflects progress towards these goals and may demonstrate that the different teams are starting to work closer together. However, this announcement shows there is still a long way to go.
The long-term vision described at the SharePoint Conference was aspirational in nature. Microsoft’s post references this when talking about ‘Connected Experiences” and says they “will combine social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video, and line of business applications in innovative new ways.” However, this is mostly a summary of what Microsoft already has said and enterprises should not get swept up in these grand visions and lose focus on what is really being delivered.
For example, while Microsoft refers to the fall release of Office 365 as providing “seamless navigation” they later say, “user experiences…begin to converge.” While the fall release will likely be somewhat more seamless than the type of accommodations being made in the summer, I expect there to be many other places in which Microsoft will need to continue smoothing the edges between Yammer with Office 365.
There are also still many details yet to be filled in regarding activity streams. In particular, the newsfeed provided within SharePoint 2013 is more than a stream of messages among colleagues. SharePoint 2013 users can follow tags, documents, or sites. As documents change, tags are applied or as comments are posted to a site, SharePoint 2013 notifies followers in their newsfeeds. Replacing this with Yammer will require changing the “follow” link next to all references to tags, documents or sites.
In short, replacing SharePoint’s newsfeed is not as simple as embedding a Yammer feed.
This announcement also shows how more straightforward it is to improve a cloud-based service versus delivering software. The fall release will be the first version of a Yammer/Office 365 integration (in my opinion, the summer release looks more like a preview of what’s coming in the fall). However, Microsoft makes no mention of these features being supported in on-premises SharePoint 2013, only saying, “we don’t plan on delivering updates for SharePoint Server every 90 days.” It will be interesting to see if the company formally supports their “guidance” for replacing SharePoint 2013’s newsfeed with Yammer. In the past, these types of efforts resulted in code being open-sourced and released on Codeplex. Unless these changes are supported, I expect most on-premises customers will shy away from them.
Lastly, is this announcement indicative of the future of the Yammer brand? The only other brands featured in Office 365 are Outlook and SkyDrive. Perhaps Yammer is Office 365’s newsfeed brand?
Where you can learn more
If you missed my SharePoint/Yammer webinar you can find a free recording of it here. There is no charge for the recording, but registration is required.
Here is a list of research covering SharePoint and Office 2013 available to Gartner for Technical (GTP) subscribers:
- What’s New in SharePoint 2013 and Yammer for Social Software, and Should You Move to It?
- What’s New in SharePoint 2013 for Content Management, Search and eDiscovery, and Should You Move to It?
- What’s New in Exchange 2013, and Should You Move to It?
- What’s New in the Office 2013 Productivity Suite, and Should You Move to It?
You may also be interested in reading Microsoft’s Changing Social Software Strategy: Yammer, SharePoint and the Role of Cloud Services Within Office. This report came out shortly after the acquisition and analyzes the long-term impact of Yammer on the overall Office suite and how this should change IT’s social software game plan, regardless if an enterprise uses Microsoft social software.
If your company is a Gartner customer, you may already be able to access this and other GTP reports. To see if you do, contact your company’s Gartner Membership Administrator. If you do not know who that is ask Gartner.