Yammer is already doing for Microsoft what Microsoft should be doing for itself—making a lot of it’s software more social.So we’re not surprised that Microsoft wants to buy Yammer for a reported $1.2 billion.
Yammer’s thing is to give employees a private Facebook-like experience where they can chat, do group messaging, share files, and create shared Web pages.
In doing that, Yammer competes with a lot of Microsoft software. But Yammer does the social thing a lot better.
Here’s all the the Microsoft products it could impact:
Microsoft Lync. Lync does IM, Web conferencing, and integration with Microsoft Office and Outlook. Lync is a modestly popular product for the enterprise. There’s an old-school version which needs its own servers in a company-owned data centre. And there’s a cloud version.
Yammer could add way better group messaging features to Lync.
Microsoft SharePoint: SharePoint is similar to Yammer in a lot of ways. This is Microsoft’s popular Web software for file sharing and collaboration. But it really doesn’t do the whole social thing very well.
Yammer already fixes some of that for SharePoint. Yammer connects with SharePoint: When someone works with a SharePoint document, that info can be posted to the Yammer stream.
Microsoft Dynamics: Likewise, Yammer is hooked into Microsoft Dynamics (a competitor to SAP and Salesforce.com). A Yammer post gets sent when people make changes to files in Dynamics.
These Yammer integrations can be awful if implemented poorly, creating a lot of Yammer spam. (Who cares if so-and-so updated a SharePoint file?) But with the right tweaking, Yammer could be great, automatically keeping groups informed on stuff they really care about.
Microsoft Office: In April, Yammer bought OneDrum and got a file-sharing tool and desktop sync tool that will let people collaborate on Office Documents and sync them to their hard drives. Microsoft has dabbled with this in a lot of ways over the years but collaboration is now a feature of Office 2010 for use with some form of cloud Office, like Office 365. Or its a function of SharePoint.
Microsoft doesn’t really need this file-sharing technology from Yammer. We’ll see what it does with it.
The bigger issue is if Microsoft will set Yammer up to run on its own, like Skype; if it plans to use the Yammer team to improve its other products; or if it’s looking to dismantle Yammer and fold it into a larger division.
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