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    Yammer integration? (Part 3) Integration Roadmap. | Peter van Hees

      Yammer integration? (Part 3) Integration Roadmap.

      Peter van Hees

      The Microsoft team in Redmond has not shared a single glimpse of a possible integration roadmap of Yammer into for example Office, SharePoint, Outlook or Lync. In my opinion, there are some interes...

      Yammer integration? (Part 3) Integration Roadmap.

      The Future YammerThe Microsoft team in Redmond has not shared a single glimpse of a possible integration roadmap of Yammer into for example Office, SharePoint, Outlook or Lync. In my opinion, there are some interesting scenario’s that are set in the stars.

      Note: The screenshots in this article are conceptual, these are my personal views on where the Yammer integration could potentially go!

      Yammer & Microsoft Office Integration

      The idea of integrating Yammer into the entire Office stack is a no brainer. You should simply draw the parallel with the Office integration of Lync (formerly Office Communications Server) and the Outlook Social Connector.

      Office Contact Card with Yammer Integration

      This can be quickly established using the Office 2013 Contact Card (as part of the “People Hub” in Outlook 2013). Today this already allows you to see a person’s Facebook and/or LinkedIn data inside the Office platform. It would be relatively easy to further extend the people centric features by including Yammer.

      As an additional idea, let’s think about the concept of annotations in a document. I’ve seen many people use this feature to collaboratively converse inside a document. I’m not saying that the annotation features should be replaced, but there should also be a (social) space outside of the document where the content can be discussed (without cluttering a document with  comment notes). These conversations should be in Yammer!

      Yammer & Microsoft Outlook Integration

      If you understand the fundamental difference between E-mail and an Enterprise Social Network, you’ll be able to envision that the integration of Yammer conversation into Outlook is also destined to occur.

      What are the 3 fundamental technological differences?

      • Time: An Enterprise Social Network is fundamentally an asynchronous communication tool; or in other words it’s “delayed”. This is exactly the same in the world of e-mail (although some people continue to expect immediate replies). You typically post something, and you can expect an answer in a few minutes, hours, or even days. Under the direct influence of Facebook, the Enterprise Social vendors have extending their platforms with availability information (presence) and instant messaging functionality. This is technically referred to as synchronous – or “live” – communication. You can see who is online now, and immediately send your question (or start audio, video or desktop sharing).
      • Target: An Enterprise Social network is a “many-to-many” communication tool; whereas e-mail can provide “one-to-one”, “one-to-some” or “one-to-many” scenarios. If I send a message to a large set of people using e-mail, I inevitably end-up with multiple parallel communications streams. In some cases people will reply to everyone, in other cases people would reply to me and copy some additional contacts they find relevant, and finally some will only reply to me. On an Enterprise Social Network, I post the message to everyone in the organization (or a group on the network) but the communication remains centralized; everyone can read the replies of everyone in a single communication stream.
      • Ties: In an organization you have strong and weak ties. The strong ties are the coworkers in your team, or the people with whom you work closely. The weak ties – also referred to as bridges – are the people you occasionally work with, in dissimilar pockets of the organization. In a connected organization, you need teams with strong ties, but you equally need a lot of weak ties. It’s typical for people with weak ties to be more complimentary; for example a collaboration architect working together with someone from the human resources department can provide fresh insights. This point is exactly the strength of weak ties, as people with different background would provide a completely different view on a particular challenge. An Enterprise Social Network is a communication tool that targets both the strong and the weak ties; whereas E-mail (or Instant Messaging) mainly target strong ties. Note: In my opinion, this is exactly the reason why Microsoft Lync isn’t a genuine “Social” tool yet.

      The freshly released feature whereby a non-Yammer user can participate in a conversation on the Enterprise Social Network is only the beginning. In the future, you will have Yammer conversations sitting in your inbox just like E-mails, Instant Messages or Voice Mails.

      Outlook with Yammer Integration

      This integration will enable Microsoft Outlook to remain the Unified Inbox, and incorporate the “time”, “target” and “ties” advantages of an Enterprise Social Network.

      In my opinion it would be fantastic to have a single message in your mailbox, that links to (and synchronizes with) the latest version of a Yammer conversation; enabling to search your personal mails and the conversations in which you have been @mentioned.

      Yammer & Microsoft Lync Integration

      There are several reasons why a strong integration of Yammer and Lync makes perfect sense. The following scenarios should be on the immediate horizon of Microsoft, as Lync could be a driver to further accelerate the adoption of Yammer.

      Let’s start by trying to remember the “Windows Live Messenger” client, and more specifically its feature to interconnect your Facebook account? This basically enabled the availability information (presence) and instant messaging functionality to be shared between the two platforms. This sounds like “back to the future”, doesn’t it?


      This is only the first integration, as you would ultimately like to implement the option to start a voice, or video conversations from within the Enterprise Social Network (services natively offered by Lync). In collaboration terms, I refer to this as “conversation escalation” (sometimes text is too restricted, and voice or ultimately video can help). By the way, the chat/video functionality is exactly what has recently been integrated into consumer Social Networks.

      Note: As additional advantage, this integration could enable users to store all their Lync conversations in the Yammer “Inbox”. The “Conversation History Folder” in Outlook has always felt a bit awkward to me.

      Secondly, you might have already heard of the “Persistent Chat Server” in Lync (formerly the “Group Chat” functionality). This is the definition I copied from the Microsoft website: “Persistent Chat Server enables you to participate in multiparty, topic-based conversations that persist over time”.

      Can’t you can simply replace “Persistent Chat Server” with “ Yammer” in this definition?

      Yammer & Microsoft SharePoint Integration

      I’ll be very short and very brief; as I’ve already set the scene for this point in part 1 and part 2 of this article. I’m convinced that the social functionalities in SharePoint will be replaced by Yammer! The following screenshot highlights a web app that we have created to pull the groups from Yammer into SharePoint (as an integral element of a Social Intranet):

      SharePoint Yammer groups web app

      But what if you are a customers that isn’t ready to adopt a cloud service for the social features? Use the SharePoint social features (although they will be deprecated over time), or an alternate Enterprise Social Networking vendor/solution.


      The Yammer platform will be deeply integrate into the Microsoft technologies (Office, SharePoint, Outlook or Lync), enabling users to connect and to participate in multiparty, topic-based conversations that persist over time.

      This was the last “Yammer integration” article of the series, and I hope you enjoyed these insights. If you have any feedback, feel free to contact me!

      This article is part of a series aimed to picture my view of the “Yammer integration” future:

      pvh2012-xl_thumb6_thumb11_thumb144Peter van Hees is a Collaboration Architect, on mission to raise the productivity – including the work satisfaction – of Information Workers. He is leading large and complex enterprise collaboration projects with a “failure is not an option, it’s a privilege for those who try” attitude. In addition, he is a passionate speaker and tenacious mentor.

      You can find more articles on his “Collaboration and Enterprise Social Networking” blog: http://petervanhees.com

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      2 Comments on “Yammer integration? (Part 3) Integration Roadmap.

      1. Hi Peter, ” I’m convinced that the social functionalities in SharePoint will be replaced by Yammer!”. I too strongly feel that you should. We are developing a SharePoint application with Yammer Integration. Customer expects seamless integration with all Yammer features made available in SharePoint on-premise site! Thanks to Microsoft advertisements. It’s no fun to tweak SharePoint implementation to hide social features, yet provide a solution that is spread across SharePoint site & Yammer site, that too with disjoint user experience. Groups management is one of the key functionalities expected by customers in their SharePoint site, but there weren’t many APIs available. “Yammer Groups” web app looks very interesting. Would you give more details? It will be great if you could give me some insight into the API development roadmap, am specifically interested in group functionalities (create, browse, associate etc)

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        • Hi Bismi,

          Thanks. The challenges we are all facing today will over time be resolved. I’m trying to address the disjoint user experience with adoption training. In the consumer world we are also used to connecting with several disjoint social platforms in parallel (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc). It’s not the ideal scenario, but if you teach the users how to circumvent the current limitations … they can use both platform together just fine. I’ll reserve some time in the coming next weeks to explain the “Yammer Groups” web app (which my team will release for free into the SharePoint App Store). I’ll also and dive deeper into the development approach.

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      This blog serves as a platform to share my professional opinion. You can also find me (almost daily) on Twitter (under my gaming alias @MrPetrovic).

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