Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Yammer and SharePoint: Enterprise Social Roadmap Update

At last November's SharePoint Conference, Microsoft announced our roadmap for enterprise social and talked about three phases of Yammer integration: "basic integration, deeper connections, and connected experiences."  (For more details, see the Putting Social to Work post I published just after the SPC keynote.)  Today at Convergence 2013 Microsoft provided an update to that roadmap, and I wanted to share the details more broadly. 

Yammer and Office 365.  During the Office keynote today, Microsoft demoed the integration of Yammer and Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  Microsoft shipped this update last month, and Microsoft love the scenario-social plus CRM is a natural fit.  But CRM integration is only one part of a broader set of work Microsoft’s doing to make Yammer the social layer across all of our products.  Our next step is integration with Office 365, and Microsoft’s now ready to share more details on what will be available when.  Here's what you need to know:
  • Basic Integration. This summer Microsoft will update the Office 365 service and allow customers to replace the SharePoint newsfeed with Yammer. Many customers are worried about confusing their users with two different feeds, and this update will allow them to simply replace the "Newsfeed" link on the Office 365 global navigation bar with a link to Microsoft will also ship a Yammer app in the SharePoint Store so that end users can easily embed a Yammer group feed into a SharePoint site, creating a connection between groups and sites that will deliver the best of both worlds. The SharePoint newsfeed will continue to be the default social experience in Office 365, but the option to replace it with Yammer will be a valuable first step in the overall integration process.
  • Deeper Connections. This fall Microsoft will deliver another update to Office 365 and deepen the integration. Customers will still have the option of choosing between Yammer and the SharePoint newsfeed, but this new, integrated Yammer experience will offer Single Sign-On (SSO) and seamless navigation. In other words, when you click on the Yammer link in the Office 365 global navigation bar, Yammer will appear immediately below with the navigation to get back to Office 365 services such as Outlook and Sites. You will also see the user experiences of Yammer and Office 365 begin to converge (see the concept mock below to get a directional sense). This new Yammer experience will also offer rich document capabilities, integrating the Office Web Apps to add editing and co-editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents.  

  • Connected Experiences. As we move into 2014, we'll continue updating Office 365 with new social enhancements roughly every 90 days. We'll start by simply deepening the connections between Yammer and Office 365 services, but over time these incremental enhancements will combine social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video, and line of business applications in innovative new ways. This is an exciting time and a hot space, and I can't wait to share more about our plans in the future.
Yammer and SharePoint Server.  Now of course we recognize that a lot of SharePoint customers are still on-premises.  They're working on their upgrade plans and want to find a way to connect their Yammer network with their on-premises deployment of SharePoint 2013.  So as part of the summer update, we'll also provide guidance for replacing the SharePoint newsfeed on-premises with Yammer.  The Yammer app in the SharePoint Store will be a valuable addition, allowing customers to create connections between Yammer groups and on-premises SharePoint sites.  While we don't plan on delivering updates for SharePoint Server every 90 days, many of the enhancements to the Yammer service described above will still be valuable in this scenario.  The SSO, updated UX, seamless navigation, and Office Web App integration will all deepen the connections between your Yammer network and your on-premises SharePoint deployment. 

What should I do?  In my customer meetings over the last few months, people have often asked, "What should I use for social?  Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?"  My answer has been clear: Go Yammer!  Yammer is our big bet for enterprise social, and Microsoft’s committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products.  It will power the social experiences in SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics, and more.   Yammer's unique adoption model appeals directly to end users and makes it easy to start enjoying the benefits of social immediately.  And because it's an online service, Yammer gives us the ability to innovate rapidly-updating the service quickly as the market evolves.  So whether you're an Office 365 customer or running SharePoint on-premises, Yammer will provide the latest innovations and best user experience.

What if I just can't use Yammer?  For all my exuberance about Yammer, I recognize that some organizations just don't feel comfortable with multi-tenant cloud services.  For these customers, our guidance is to use the SharePoint newsfeed.  It provides rich social features integrated with a broad set of SharePoint capabilities.  While the cloud lowers the barriers to adoption and allows for more frequent updates, we get that some customers just aren't ready to make the move.  (Some customers, in fact, are adamant that they'll NEVER move to a multi-tenant service.)  When it comes to the cloud, we're "all in," but we're also realistic.  We have a large on-premises installed base that's important to us, and we're committed to future releases of the server.

Acquisitions can be tricky business, but we're extremely pleased with our progress so far.  Yammer has continued to innovate and grow their standalone business, and the packaging and pricing changes we announced at the SharePoint Conference last year have made the Yammer service more accessible than ever before.  But the most exciting thing for me is that we're just getting started.  Today's roadmap update provides a little more insight into how we're planning to integrate Yammer with Office 365 and SharePoint.  But we're out to change the world, and there's much more to come. 

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