Socializing SharePoint #SPC14"Work like a Network." Spend enough time at SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas and you're bound to run into this message. It’s central to the short-term improvements that answer questions about Yammer and SharePoint, and even more central to new investments that Microsoft calls Inline Social, Groups and Office Graph.

Since Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012, it has marched forward with the message of “Yammer First.” The company has encouraged businesses to lead with Yammer whenever possible and promised new integrations that will transform the ways users work together.

In two keynotes at the SharePoint Conference yesterday, Microsoft revealed some of the new ways it is integrating Yammer into existing Microsoft tools. Here are our takeaways.

Jared Spataro, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft Office, noted that the integration of SharePoint and Yammer once meant simply being able to sign-in to both services with one account. In reality, he argued, it is much more. By integrating the social experiences in Yammer with SharePoint, Microsoft is giving organizations different ways to work together. 

Christophe Fiessinger, enterprise social project manager at Microsoft and Juliet Wei, senior product marketing manager at Yammer made it very clear in their session that while Microsoft still believes the best pure social experience is Yammer in the browser -- they called it the “hero” version of social -- that the future of work is social, and the future of social is in its ability to socially connect people within and around the documents, data and applications they care about.

Work Like a Network

Microsoft wants to incorporate things that impact our personal lives into the way we work collaboratively, a message brought up in this space last month. Through enhanced social networks, the company thinks businesses will gain new insights and have the potential to use that information to grow and expand. To help people understand this idea, Microsoft has created a video the highlights the concept of working like a network.

Three tracks -- “Inline Social,” “Groups” and “Office Graph” -- position Microsoft’s approach to Enterprise Social as something that includes SharePoint but extends well beyond it. They’re all providing a social experience across applications and platforms -- where SharePoint is still important -- but no more so than its siblings Lync, Exchange, Office and even Dynamics CRM. 

The Dynamics CRM mention was slipped quietly into the talk track and hasn't received much fanfare, but for the corporate communications teams who often own internal social engagement initiatives this service should not be ignored. The new feature now available in Dynamics CRM -- Microsoft Social Listening -- pushes Microsoft firmly into the sentiment analysis game. Social listening can be pointed to external social but this product can also be turned on Yammer to provide valuable insights about your internal users’ social behavior.

Creating People Maps

Office Graph is one of the new features Microsoft is highlighting at the conference. It's a tool that allows you to create maps of people based on the content that they like, share, comment on or submit. This is an extension of the existing social graph within Yammer and basically allows you to map users based on their activities. It can extend across all of Office, providing a way to see users in relation to the context of the data they actively work on.

What's Oslo?

A new app with the codename Oslo is an extension of the Office Graph. It provides a way for users to reference and view additional data based on that Office Graph information. In essence, it is a way to pull together the information from the Office Graph in a way that pushes relevant data to users. Oslo will recognize users, what they are doing and the people with whom they should be connect. It's a way to push data to users that was once only discoverable through search. While it hasn’t been officially released yet, Microsoft provided several demos and screenshots that show the promise of what is to come.

Microsoft Oslo

The Group Experience

Microsoft also showed the new features available within the Group Experience. These new Groups essentially expand the idea of Public groups from Yammer throughout Office 365. This feature is a way to bring people, profiles, conversations, email, calendars and files together across Office 365. It will allow users to create a single group that can be accessed and referenced in multiple locations. This means users can provision a group anywhere in Office 365 with the knowledge that the components required for that team will be configured across the entire environment.