For the past several days, rumors have been swirling around that Microsoft is about to buy Yammer. The Wall Street Journal is saying it’s a done deal, although neither Microsoft nor Yammer has made an official announcement.
If this acquisition does come to pass, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Microsoft has been very successful with SharePoint — but it’s a very different animal from Yammer. At this point, enterprises buy three levels of collaboration tools: (1) production (e.g., Documentum, Open Text), (2) purposeful (e.g., Lotus Notes, SharePoint), and (3) ad hoc (e.g., Box, Yammer). If Microsoft buys Yammer and puts it within the SharePoint division, over time it runs the risk that it will make Yammer more SharePoint-like — and thereby eventually dull the features that make it complementary to SharePoint.
Ideally, Microsoft should create a Collaboration division that contains both SharePoint and Yammer — in other words, make the product divisions subordinate to a way of working. However, Microsoft has been organized into product divisions for years, so I doubt that will come to pass. Again, it will be interesting to see if and how Microsoft + Yammer plays out….