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Ever since Microsoft bought Yammer in June 2012 and announced plans to integrate it with SharePoint, there has been considerable interest in the social network and getting the most out of it. Now GoodData has entered the fray. It researched how companies use Yammer in the enterprise, and offers four suggestions for improvement.

Social Network Use

There are no hard and fast rules on getting the most out of social networks or guides to ensure the best return on investment (ROI).  Instead, Yammer Analytics: Why It’s Time looks at the use of third-party analytics to understand how Yammer is being used in enterprises. That analytics should be brought to play to examine Yammer and other social networks is no surprise. It simply underscores how agile analytics products have now become.

Social networks have become increasingly valuable to enterprises. Not only do they facilitate collaboration and flexible communication, but they also unlock information from restrictive silos, push it around the enterprise and create new business value. In fact, according to a Forrester Forrsight Software Survey , businesses are starting to see social networks as strategic investments and not just useful but non-essential tools.

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Yammer actionable analytics

Investing in Yammer

In fact, the ROI for Yammer is as much as 365 percent if it is used in conjunction with actionable analytics.  There are some basic analytics capabilities in Yammer, GoodData noted, but they are limited by 7-day and 28-day windows. To really understand what is going on in a social network, the analytics application needs to have greater flexibility.

But let’s take a small step to put this in perspective. According to International Data Corporation (IDC) global sales of enterprise social networks will grow by 42 percent annually between now and 2016. In terms of revenue growth this means that between 2011 and 2016, the global market for enterprise social networks will grow from $767.4 million to $4.5 billion.

This growth is being pushed by a fundamental change in the way employees communicate. Telephones (even mobile ones), conference calls and email can't keep employees in the loop as well as a social network.

In fact, citing a McKinsey report on The Social Economy: Unlocking Value And Productivity Through Social Technologies, GoodData estimates that workers using social networks are between 25 percent and 30 percent more productive.

So what's the problem?  Only  3 percent of companies are getting the full benefits from social technologies.

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Yammer engagement

Analytics, GoodData noted , are essential. Before enterprises can improve their ROI they must know which deployments have worked and identify how they have failed. There are four areas in particular that enterprises need to address:

1. Employee Adoption and Engagement

The first thing enterprises need to measure is whether employees are actually using the social network. Clearly, if they are not, everything breaks down right there.  By using  third-party analytics packages, enterprises will be able to overcome the inherent problems around Yammer’s internal analytics and provide Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Useful indicators include the number of employees who are active on Yammer, the number of those that start new threads, those who respond to threads and those that are currently or permanently inactive.