Jon Orton, Microsoft
Microsoft Group Product Marketing Manager Jon Orton said Yammer is evolving. PHOTO: Asa Aarons Smith

Microsoft made good on its promise to eliminate the Yammer Enterprise service tier.

As Group Product Marketing Manager Jon Orton told CMSWire during the Ignite conference in Atlanta in September, Microsoft is replacing the stand-alone enterprise offering in favor of deeper levels of integration with Office 365 services. 

'Natural Evolution of Yammer'

Orton described that decision as a natural product evolution. Earlier this year, Microsoft turned on Yammer by default for all eligible Office 365 customers. Since then, the vast majority of Yammer customers use it as part of an Office 365 subscription. The stand-alone version was retired Jan. 1, although those who are already using it can continue to do so at least through the end of this year (and, in exceptional cases, as long as 2019).

However, going forward, enterprises that want to use Yammer will have to sign up for an eligible Office 365 plan. In a notice about Yammer, Microsoft explained it was "strengthening Yammer integration" with various Office 365 collaboration tools including SharePoint, OneNote and Planner.

Yammer as a standalone application does not provide the collaboration functionality that many enterprises now demand, Microsoft maintains. Over the past year, Microsoft has been working to make Yammer more collaborative.

In September, it integrated Yammer with Office 365 Groups. This gives users access to SharePoint sites and document repositories, a shared OneNote notebook and task management with Microsoft’s project management tool Planner.

In October, it announced users will be able to create Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents using Office Online within Yammer. 

Addressing Market Changes

The market for digital workplace tools is also increasingly competitive. Google rebranded Google for Work as G Suite in September, adding more functionality for collaboration. Slack and Google also integrated, creating a relatively inexpensive yet functional collaboration offering.

Microsoft needs an answer to these developments — and giving Yammer collaboration muscle seems to be its strongest response.

As Orton told CMSWire:

"Yammer is a critical component of Office 365's collaboration strategy. We've been doing a lot of work over the past few years to integrate it deeply on the backend to meet security compliance and trust commitments to our customers. Now we're extending those integrations to groups. Yammer is growing, not going away."