Yammer Pros and Cons
On no, you say… not another social networking site.
Well, this one is different. It has the power to break up departmental walls within your company and get people to communicate and collaborate in real time.
Did I get your attention yet? Keep reading.
What is Yammer?
Yammer is an enterprise communication tool that gives your company’s employees a chance to collaborate and discuss ideas in real time. Yammer is a corporate version of Twitter because it limits the reach of your Yammer communication network to your company’s employees only. This greatly limits the amount of unrelated background chatter you are generally exposed to on Twitter. Since only your co-workers are allowed to enter the network and participate in the conversation, information exchange is more focused on company-related issues, often breaking departmental walls, flattening the organization and hopefully increasing productivity and value.
Yammer is just like Twitter, but better.
Yammer, just like Twitter, allows you to send short messages to people who chose to follow you. You can also choose to receive messages from employees you want to follow on Yammer. The general question you are answering on Yammer is “What are you working on?” But the message exchange following the initial post is what proves to be of great benefit to those who get involved. Since your company’s employees are already a community outside of Yammer, it is easier to get Yammer conversations started and knowledge exchange flowing. Yammer groups (both public and private) can be formed, RSS feeds can be shared and discussed and files (incl. images) can be uploaded. All of this growing knowledge base is fully searchable and easy to view/interact with using a web browser or by downloading a desktop, Blackberry or an iPhone app.
How does the back-end work?
Unlike traditional enterprise tools which must be installed by IT, Yammer utilizes a SaaS (Software as a Service) model allowing anybody to start a network and invite others to join. This means that Yammer setup takes less then five minutes and makes it an ideal tool for piloting social networks within your company.
Oh, did I mention that the basic Yammer network is FREE?
Yammer long term… What about security?
Let me start by mentioning that
- data transfer to and from Yammer servers is encrypted using a security protocol called SSL
- access to the network is limited to empoloyees with a valid corporate email address and the sign-up process requires a confirmation from that email address before the network entry is granted.
Not comfortable with a SaaS model? Just a few days ago Yammer introduced a version of its software that can be licensed and hosted by companies inside their corporate firewall.
My Experience with Yammer
I signed up for yammer a few weeks ago and worked to evangelize it among my immediate network of coworkers. After a few weeks there were a handful of users and very little traffic. Then I had a meeting with the research and development team and a few of their members offered to help out by trying the service. Since that time (about two weeks ago) the adoption rate increased dramatically with new Yammer members joining daily.
According to my unscientific observations early adopters of Yammer tend to be technically savvy and happy to be considered the “hip” crowd who is eager to try new “things.”
The network has been in existence for about six weeks with steady growth happening in the last two weeks. So far the ratio of men to women who joined is ~2:1. Men also tend to post much more frequently than women 😦 .
Approx. 60% of those who have joined the network choose to remain in the background and listen rather than post. This might be associated with the fact that the network is still very young and new users need time to familiarize themselves with the tool and overcome the fear of public speaking online.
Several power users have already emerged. Some of them are avid Twitter users and they took it upon themselves to form some basic rules of engagement, giving usage tips and encouraging others to participate. They tend to post several times throughout the day and sometimes even over the weekend. Generally though the conversation dies down after 5pm on week days.
What do people talk about?
One of the first issues that was raised and discussed on Yammer was security followed by several posts informing users that even though Yammer is a private network it is a pilot program and users are not to reveal any sensitive information they would not be comfortable talking about in a public forum.
So far Yammer conversations have been focusing on
- Giving Yammer usage tips and resolving technical issues associated with Yammer setup and installing a desktop app.
- Talking about online collaboration tools and their effect on productivity. Living in e-mail hell has been mentioned plenty of times.
- Discussing posts submitted by a member who has been “yammering” live from an internal off-site event.
Generally folks are eager to share expertise and help those who ask.
Most conversations start and continue throughout the day, but few of them span more than 24 hrs.
Is Yammer a Disruption at Work?
This question was actually asked on Yammer. Some who responded associated Yammer with an instant messaging tool (e.g. Jabber) that most users keep open in the background and which helps them keep in touch with their remote coworkers. Some complained that Yammer clogs their inboxes with notification emails, but this issue was quickly resolved by a post explaining how to adjust email notification settings. The conversation soon evolved to the more general issue of managing collaboration networks so that unwanted chatter is minimized while relevant info. is pushed to the top. The consensus was that there is opportunity to further refine this tool (i.e. make it “smarter”) to help users manage the background chatter effectively.
Lots of eyes are now focused on monitoring the networks, its growth, level of engagement and the impact it has on individuals and their work relationships. Is Yammer the app “du jour”? Hope not. I definitely enjoy using it and have interacted with many individuals in my company I would not have interacted with if it were not for Yammer. There are several follow up meetings on my calendar that resulted from folks sharing their expertise on Yammer. What’s next for Yammer? Time will tell.
Additional Yammer Resources
- Yammer page on Wikipedia
- New York Time articles: Will Microblogging at work make you more productive?
- What are you waiting for? Start yammering.
- The official Yammer blog
- Geke Ludden’s blog post about Telematica’s decision to choose Twitter rather than Yammer for their group microblogging tool