Rebecca Jackson

The Year of Yammer starts now

After months of talk about the #YearOfYammer (YoY) all has been revealed at Ignite this week.

YoY begins now, with calendar year 2020 being the focal point for a number of key releases and significant changes to Yammer focussing on:

  • Community
  • Knowledge
  • Engagement

TL;DR

There is a lot of detail in the announcement, and much which I am very excited to see. At a high level it looks good and there are some incredibly useful features coming. I can summarise what is coming with YoY as follows):

  • Yammer is being lifted up to be a truly integrated part of Microsoft 365
  • Enhancements are being made providing ease of management Yambassadors and community managers
  • Communication and community are Yammer’s position in the Microsoft 365 toolset

I’ll touch on some of what has stood out for me.

Integration

Yammer is going to be more naturally integrated in to Office 365. Yammer was acquired by Microsoft 7 years ago and despite improvements has been set apart from the rest of the toolset. We’ve already seen a hint of this integration with the release of Yammer / Office 365 profile integration. The notable change will be that notifications will be brought into the Office 365 notification panel, giving that consistency across tools.

Changes to the visual design initially appear subtle, until you look closely. It is using the new ‘fluent’ design which I assume means a full rebuild. It bringing it more technically and visually in line, including touches that will be familiar to people who use Teams and Modern SharePoint.

I was expecting richer SharePoint integration, but compared to the broader integration story the SharePoint piece just a bonus as it will be more interactive and full-functioning. Same with Outlook, where email content will allow more direct interaction and a Teams add-in which will bring Yammer to the forefont of the Teams experience.

Communication and community

Not only do we see some great new features that Yammer fans have been asking for, but the reframing of Yammer. I like how the product team talks about how Yammer has been trying to do a lot, but they are pulling the focus in to make Yammer about that company wide communication and community, such as:

  • Yammer groups will receive a rename to ‘communities’. I think this is an important step in positioning Yammer for more of a community collaboration purpose, and also help with some of the language challenges around how we use the word Group in Microsoft-land.
  • All company will be simplified (only one option) and driven by an algorithm that is looking at your broader Office 365 activity. I like the simplification here, but do expect conversations with people about what is appearing in their feed and why.

I can see this positioning working well for organisations that are trying to rationalise what Yammer means for them in the context of other tools (like Teams and Outlook).

Ease of management

This is tied in somewhat to the communication and community piece, but worth a separate mention. A big part of a successful enterprise social network is the ability to manage it effectively as a community.

  • Pinning conversations to the top
  • Closing conversations
  • Making anything an announcement
  • Cover photos for groups (communities)
  • eDiscovery compliance
  • Retention and deletion

Some questions

I am excited for all the new things, but a few things do come to mind:

  • If you are not on classic SharePoint do you just miss out on integrations or is there potentially a diminshed experience?
  • How many features are reliant on Office 365 enabled Yammer groups?
  • Does the nice integration between Outlook and Yammer only work in web view or will it work on desktop.
  • What about search? I assume integration will improve search, but it wasn’t really touched on.

Answers to these may already exist. If you know or have thoughts of your own please share in the comments.

Watch it on demand

I’ve pulled out some tweets from the Yammer team pointing you to the summary, the promo video and the full Ignite session. Have a look and tell me what you think.

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