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Integrating Yammer with SharePoint 2013: Navigating the Options

2014-22-May-Directions.jpgIn 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:

  1. Download the Yammer App from the SharePoint App Store. You’ll need to be an Office 365 Global Admin to do download the app.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the Yammer Feed to your SharePoint Site.
  4. Sign into Yammer with your Yammer username and password.
  5. Choose the Yammer Feed you want to show on the site.
  6. 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.

 

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