Microsoft has yet to substantially improve the user interface or add significant features and functionalities to the enterprise collaboration platform it bought for $1.2 billion four years ago.

Yammer could use some love, members of the CMSWire Reader Advisory Board told us during a recent conference call.

Microsoft needs to give its users a “roadmap in social,” said Joel Oleson, director of business development at Konica Minolta Business Solutions, where he drives strategy and growth for its SharePoint and ECM practice. “Beyond integration and early fanfare, not much has happened with the Yammer user experience after making it part of Office 365. Not much is happening in terms of them setting a really clear path for enterprise social.”

Cloudy Yammer Strategy

headshot of alan lepofsky of constellation research

Microsoft acquired Yammer in June of 2012. Nothing especially exciting has happened with Yammer, although Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst for Future of Work at Constellation Research, noted that Microsoft has been working on the backend infrastructure.

“That said, the integration is still lacking where it should be after four years," Lepofsky said. "File sharing is not OneDrive, profiles are separate from Office 365 and you can't seamlessly create or share or edit Office documents.”

Advisory board member David Lavenda said Microsoft could make its collaboration story sync better. He cited some duplicative collaboration and document sharing capabilities between SharePoint, Yammer and Office 365 Groups.

“It’s not clear what the strategy is or what you’re supposed to use and when,” said Lavenda, vice president of product strategy at harmon.ie, a provider of user experience products and a PhD candidate in information management. “And it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is serious about Yammer or exactly clear about its long-term play is.”

Lepofsky told CMSWire that Microsoft very much has Yammer in its roadmap. Despite similarities with Office 365 Groups, Microsoft vows that Yammer remains a critical part of the Office 365 collaboration ecosystem.

“One of the key differentiators for now,” Lepofsky said, “is that Office 365 Groups are for internal use, while Yammer networks can be used externally. Microsoft itself uses Yammer for its IT Pro Network support communities."

In February Microsoft made Yammer available for all licensing types.

Making Yammer Moves

Microsoft released a new feature within Yammer about a month ago that enables enterprise users to communicate and collaboration with customers, partners and suppliers. It also enables teams to share content with the appropriate permissions and extend access to networks and external messaging features.

Microsoft declined comment for this story.

Oleson said there are numerous options from SharePoint Newsfeeds, Groups and Yammer, adding that it is also worth noting that Microsoft just added support for Flow integration with Slack.

Yammer Shortfalls

headshot of Joel Oleson original technician on Microsoft SharePoint

Overall, though, Oleson said Yammer is lacking, especially in terms of the user interface and new features.

“Microsoft has been neglecting Yammer and not giving it the attention that it needs,” Oleson said. “A lot has happened with that original Yammer team at Microsoft when you peel back the onion,” Oleson added, referring to downsizing the Yammer Customer Success team.

Microsoft has successfully integrated Yammer with its own products.

“But in terms of adding new features and functionality and improving the UI, its kind of taken a lot of Yammer features and exposed them with Groups," he said. "The group functionality is a good idea, and exposing things in Delve is important. And the conversations piece being added into these other apps inside of Office 365 has been important.”

Oleson sees an opportunity for Microsoft to improve its mobile app user experience for Yammer.

“We’ve seen Microsoft take a lot of cloud development best practices from Yammer including things like lean customer development,” Oleson said.

“I think a lot of people in the community expected to hear something about Yammer in the SharePoint and Office 365 futures presentations on May 4. All the talk of responsive and modern UI seems to have missed mentioning Yammer. Those that have anticipated new UX updates in the platform look like they’ll need to keep waiting based on the published Office 365 roadmap.”

Title image "Yammer" (CC BY 2.0) by colecamp