In 2012, Microsoft Office General Manager Jared Spataro told the audience at the SharePoint Conference that “Microsoft is all in on Yammer and SharePoint.” Spataro made it clear -- Yammer would be the social collaboration tool of choice for SharePoint going forward.
Office 365 would be the first major beneficiary of Yammer integration, but SharePoint on-premises would see integration in future service pack releases. Microsoft would support SharePoint 2013’s out of the box social features for a period of time, but they would not be enhanced or developed further. This sent shock waves of confusion and concern throughout the SharePoint Community and has spurred heated discussion since.
Two years later we've seen a significant shift in SharePoint’s direction and its future. Spataro recently updated the future of SharePoint and Yammer in a Blog post called “Work like a network! Enterprise social and the future of work.”
For most SharePoint customers this puts a fork in the road. One path points to Office 365 and the Microsoft cloud, the other path towards SharePoint on-premises. Questions like “Which path do we choose?” “What will the consequences be?” and “What will we do with our legacy SharePoint Social implementation?” are being asked across the board. These are interesting questions to ponder but while companies wait, Microsoft continues to enhance the Office 365 version of SharePoint and Yammer at a much faster pace than SharePoint 2013 on-premises.
The question being asked the most is not “What should we do?” but more about “How do we do it?” Yammer has become the most popular and widely deployed Enterprise Social Network and Microsoft has provided several paths for integration. This article will provide you with the various paths to integrating Yammer into your SharePoint 2013 environment and the steps to make it a reality.
SharePoint Online (Office 365) + Yammer
If you are using SharePoint 2013 in Office 365 you should be integrating Yammer into your sites. The benefits of using an Activity Feed in a Collaboration Site provided by SharePoint are huge. Think of it as turning a document centric collaboration environment into a people centric environment. The team using the site can utilize the activity feed for all conversations related to the project. All of the project information is in one place and is easy to find. This removes the need for email as the internal communication is managed through the activity feed.
The upside to this strategy is that all of your project related conversations are in one place, you can search the activity feed for any topic related to project, you can use the activity feed for posting questions to the team, submitting a poll or posting a document for review. Adding the Yammer Group Activity Feed to a SharePoint 2013 site is the killer app for collaboration.
Here are the steps to integrating the Yammer App into your site on Office 365:
- Download the Yammer App from the SharePoint App Store. You’ll need to be an Office 365 Global Admin to do download the app.
- Install the Yammer App into your SharePoint environment. SharePoint site collection admins will need to make the Yammer App for SharePoint available to sites within their site collections.
- Add the Yammer Feed to your SharePoint Site.
- Sign into Yammer with your Yammer username and password.
- Choose the Yammer Feed you want to show on the site.
- You can adjust the height of the Yammer feed to present more of the conversation on the SharePoint Site by editing the App properties. A height of 1049 pixels works well.
Step by step instructions for installing and configuring the Yammer App with your Office 365 SharePoint 2013 environment are available here.
SharePoint 2013 On-Premises + Yammer
Using Yammer with SharePoint on premises is a completely different and more complex conversation. You will need to configure access to the SharePoint Store to download the Yammer App. Microsoft created the SharePoint Store to move away from using managed code in the SharePoint environment. You will need to add a DNS address to enable the connection between your SharePoint environment and the Store. You won’t be able to install the Yammer App without this configuration so make sure you work with your IT group to ensure your Server environment is set up properly before moving forward.
If you decide to use Yammer with SharePoint 2013 on prem, you will need to understand the intricacies of hiding the out of the box social features. This is not a trivial process and you should plan carefully for which features you want to hide and how you’re going to modify your existing sites.
The specific areas you’re going to need to address in this process are:
- Viewing or posting to conversations in Newsfeeds on sites where the Newsfeed has been added (including MySites and Team Sites)
- Viewing Newsfeed activities
- Viewing activities on the users’ Profile Page
- Viewing the “I'm Following” web part
- Mentioning users from the Profile Page
- Following people
- Following tags
- Viewing trending tags on sites with the Newsfeed web part
Newsfeed activities (out of the box Newsfeed) from existing sites will not automatically transfer to Yammer. Remember -- Yammer feeds are in the cloud and the out of the box Activity Feeds reside in a SharePoint database on-premises. You will have to decide what you are going to do with these conversations as part of the implementation. You can manually transfer the content from these feeds by copying and pasting the data into newly created Yammer Groups but this could be a laborious and difficult process. You must decide if that data is critical to your effort to determine the correct approach. Keep this in mind as you plan for the rollout of the Yammer App into your SharePoint environment.
You will need to modify your Site Templates to include the Yammer App as users create new sites.
The installation and configuration of the Yammer App in your SharePoint 2013 environment is a complex and detailed process. Microsoft has provided a comprehensive white paper with step by step instructions on how to make it happen. You can download the white paper here.
A more comprehensive set of instructions was developed by Andrew J. Billings. He has provided a complete set of instructions that include how you can configure your connection to the Microsoft Store. You can find his Blog Post here.
Warning -- Don’t attempt to do this without consulting and working closely with your SharePoint Administrators and the IT Support Team. This is not a process that can be accomplished by Super Users or Site Administrators.
Whether you are using SharePoint in Office 365 or SharePoint 2013 in your corporate environment, adding the Yammer App to your SharePoint sites will provide you with a rich collaboration experience that will help drive innovation and engagement across your company. Be sure to plan your deployments accordingly.
Remember that “the build it and they will come” approach doesn’t provide any benefit and will lead to lack of adoption and underutilization. Be sure you define use cases and plan for the Yammer integration accordingly. Ensure your user community understands how it works and how to use the platform.