The enterprise traditionally lags behind consumer trends and social is no exception. While our personal lives are enhanced through sharing experiences with our networks of family, friends and followers, when it comes to work, engrained business culture is wrestling with the socialisation on their doorsteps. If you ask any medium to large organisation what their biggest problem is, communication is likely to land in their top 3. Well it turns out implementing social platforms can be a great method to solve this problem.
The socialisation of the enterprise is becoming a reality as Microsoft integrates the enterprise social network, Yammer with Office. Created in 2008, Microsoft acquired them last year for $1.2 Billion dollars, so this is no experiment, it’s big business. For those businesses running SharePoint 2013, Yammer will power the Newsfeed and allow employees to post, share, collaborate and even Like each other’s posts. Michael Attalla, director of product management of the Office 365 team, said that Microsoft acquired Yammer because it was already a market leader in enterprise social and has 8 Million users. The service continues to grow rapidly with more than 200,000 organisations using it, including many of the fortune 500.
The question of time management is often raised when discussing the implementation of Yammer inside an organisation. Often management forget about the 20 other avenues that are available for employees to waste time if they’re not motivated to stay on-task. Of course it’s a risk that employees spend all day ‘collaborating’, but the opportunity of increased employee teamwork, communication and project status information far outweigh the risk. When you think about the documents and information that is shared through Outlook, it’s impossible to tell the success of the data shared past a read receipt. However if you share a piece of content (Image, video, document etc) and receive a like from senior management or the CEO, you instantly know you’re on to a good thing.
While formal groups and team member invites can work for collaboration, the opportunity is to open the doors to have employees create their own interest groups available for anyone cross-division to join. This creates an environment for conversation between people who may never engage in-person and while the conversation may start with a common interest like photography, inevitably it will turns to work.
The other element to consider in communicating better is that workers are increasingly geographically diverse. Yammer’s device support is pretty impressive, web, desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 8, Windows Phone. This means regardless of the device you can contribute to the conversation, like or even endorse co-worker contributions. This can go some ways to solving employees feeling isolated in remote locations. More practically staff who attend conferences, often have little or no communication with the office until they return, but with a sharing platform, that human urge to share new information with others is services well and alleviate the need for a big post-conference report to be written upon return.
Staggeringly Microsoft are now making $1.5 Billion per year for Office 365 and updates to Office will happen there first. The first example is an unreleased version of the PowerPoint Web App that features a Yammer powered conversation in a panel on the right. This is planned to roll out across both Word and Excel Web apps as well. Microsoft will use this as a trial, if successful, they will consider adding these social panels to the desktop versions of Office.
So what do you think about social coming to business? Have you been waiting for it, or does it feel like a diversion from your ‘real’ work? It has a lot of opportunities, but could go wrong if not implemented with thought and consideration.