Microsoft is pushing Yammer ... again. The focus now is on small and midsize businesses (SMBs).
Microsoft underlined its enterprise ambitions for Yammer in November by making it available with all Office 365 enterprise plans. Now it's also added Yammer to Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Education plans.
Take It: It's Free
According to a blog post by Jared Spataro, general manager of enterprise social, all existing Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Education plan customers will receive licenses for Yammer Enterprise.
More importantly — and something that will make the offer far more attractive than it might have been — is that these customers will no longer need extra licenses for external users in their external networks. Spataro said:
This simple licensing change significantly reduces the friction in cross-organization collaboration and will enable your users to work with customers, partners, and parents and students without having to worry about additional costs."
The problem with external licenses had dogged Microsoft since it bought Yammer and was one of the unpleasant legacies Microsoft was eager to drop.
Before the acquisition, external collaboration was enabled through dedicated Yammer online workspaces called External Networks, which required users to purchase licenses for external users within those networks.
Last November, those networks were eliminated for Office 365 Enterprise customers, who were offered the possibility of pulling customers or partners into their networks without the cost of extra licenses. Microsoft told CMSWire in a statement that the move to extend Yammer is part of the strategy outlined at the SharePoint conference last March entitled Work Like a Network:
Over the past year we’ve been hard at work on Microsoft’s vision for enterprise social by delivering deeper integration with Office 365 and Yammer to customers. This announcement is one way we’re enabling companies of all sizes to work more like a network through an integrated set of social, collaboration and communication technologies.”
Yammer’s Social Role
The statement also noted that the extension of Yammer corresponds with Microsoft ambition to enable users collaborate and work together on any device and at any time.
Microsoft announced during the SharePoint conference in March that it would not be adding any new social features to SharePoint, although it is committed to another on-premises release of SharePoint server. In a blog post at the time, Spataro recommended that enterprises using SharePoint invest in Yammer:
My guidance has been clear and consistent: Go Yammer! While we’re committed to another on-premises release of SharePoint Server — and we’ll maintain its social capabilities — we don’t plan on adding new social features. Our investments in social will be focused on Yammer and Office 365, so that we can innovate quickly and take advantage of the viral user adoption that is so important to the natural network effect that makes social so powerful."
Under the circumstances, it seems Microsoft was almost obligated to offer SMBs that invested in SharePoint access to Yammer.