Monday afternoon at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference I attended a session entitled “Grow Your Business with Yammer.” The session was led by Sarah Gunderson, who joined Microsoft as part of the Yammer acquisition. What I loved about the session is that she started with the why -- why worry about social anyway?

And once you do recognize social for what it is, how will you then work with it in the most efficient an effective way? This session was primarily for the partners to understand how they could work with Yammer in their business. 

What is driving social?

What is pushing people to use social toolsets in organizations? The answer is simple and it has to do with the loss of productivity when the tools aren’t present. Some of the statistics shared in the session focused on the percentage of time that is lost during the day when we have to do one of the following tasks:

  • Look for the Most Recent Version of a Document
  • Find Out Who You Should Engage from the Organization
  • Collaborate Together within the Organization

Many organizations today are lacking the combination of cultures and tools that allow this type of communication. In fact many organizations are still stuck in the ways of Top-Down one-way communication. This typically has a side-effect of disengagement among employees. So what if you could take your best asset you have as a company, and empower them to overcome these limitations?That is what Yammer can bring to the organization.

What Makes Social Tools Successful?

So what is the glue that pulls this all together -- adoption and engagement by the business. Without it you have nothing more than a tool. This means that the way to have a successful implementation is to focus not on the tech or the tool, but instead to focus on the culture.

Think of the last time you were involved in bringing a new tool to the organization, how much of your efforts were based in culture? It’s about the culture seeing the value of working together and having it all at their fingertips. It is up to the business to work together with IT helping them by enabling them and leading them to the value it can bring to the organization. Once the business can see the value they will be in a position to be enabled.

How is Yammer Leading the Way?

Because the business can quickly engage with a tool that brings immediate ROI, Yammer is leading the way of social tools. It is all about the business and letting them move quickly and be empowered with tools that provide quick ROI, without requiring a great deal of IT. Yammer fills this void as it predominately starts in the business and not through IT.

The Partner Story

So how do the partner ecosystem fit into this Yammer story? Simple, Microsoft will be investing into Partners, empowering them to better guide, assist and work alongside of organizations as they look to Yammer. Here are the primary ways that Microsoft envisions Partners working with Yammer:

  1. Sell Yammer
  2. Activate Yammer -- providing services as they journey to Yammer
  3. Integrate Yammer -- integrate enterprise social with LOB applications
  4. Community Management & Ongoing Services -- provide organizations with the ongoing services to ensure Yammer adoption across their organization

Over the next few months Microsoft will be creating and running in beta several new programs intended to assist partners through this approach of working with customers. Worthy of mentioning is the High Touch Customer Success Program which will be launching to select partners this July and then being widely available to partners the end of August.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, the session provided great reminders of the reasons to push social and Microsoft’s desire to work within the partner ecosystem to support the products. If you have been a partner struggling to understand how Yammer fits into Office, details and guidance are coming soon! If you are a customer wondering about all the buzz but not knowing where to turn, you will soon be able to connect with a group of partners ready to help your business journey to Yammer.

Editor's Note: Read more updates from the WPC13 conference here.