Enterprise Social as Enterprise Platform #YamJam12
During the opening keynote address at the YamJam ’12 Yammer user conference in San Francisco, Yammer Founder/Microsoft Corporate VP David Sacks and two other speakers discussed how enterprise social technology is quickly evolving to a point where in the near future the enterprise social platform will actually serve as the main platform where employees communicate and do business.

Consumerization Starts Trend toward Enterprise Social Dominance

While the personal benefits of social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter are well-documented, Sacks said in business we are “still primarily communicating through the organizational chart, top-down.” However, thanks to consumerization, he said this is starting to change.

“Employees bring enterprise social tools to the company, invite their co-workers, and it is later made a strategic initiative,” he said. Interestingly, Sacks said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told him PCs followed a similar “consumerization”-driven path to enterprise adoption in the early 1980s, as individual employees brought in their own PCs while corporate IT departments still focused on mainframe computing.

In the future, Sacks said he expects all enterprise applications will be social and allow all employees to work off the same data set. This will solve the current problem of “social network sprawl” Sacks sees at many businesses.
“There are many social networks in one company,” he explained. “The CRM application has its own social feed, the ERP application has its own social feed. We’re going right back to the siloed world we came from.”

In response, Sacks said Yammer is developing an “enterprise graph” that maps connections of people with things, such as files and documents,” in the enterprise. He said social networks like Facebook already create similar maps in people’s personal lives that connect them with things such as movies they like and books they have read.

Changing How Employees Talk to Each Other

One of the two other featured speakers during the keynote was Microsoft Corporate VP Jeff Teper, who said Yammer is changing how employees talk and share information in organizations. He said Yammer is making employee conversations more “contextual.”

In addition, Teper said Microsoft, which purchased Yammer in June 2012, is trying to move all of its applications to the cloud as quickly as possible. “We hope the Yammer model will serve as a catalyst to move the infrastructure to the cloud more quickly.”

Teper said Microsoft has previously used the “viral, end-user-driven motion” of the development process used by Yammer to help drive development of consumer products such as the XBox, but never used it to drive development of enterprise products until purchasing Yammer. “It makes it much more fun for us to build software for you guys and allows us to get software to you guys faster.” He said Microsoft will offer Yammer both as a free standalone solution as well as an integrated paid solution.

Enterprise Social Growth Spurt

The other featured speaker during the keynote, Gartner social media analyst Sue Landry, said social media is growing at a pace that eclipses that of other disruptive technologies such as the telephone and television, and is becoming much more prevalent in the enterprise space.

“Forrester expects 60 billion enterprise social applications by 2016 and Gartner expects 40% of large enterprises will at least have corporate casework completed by 2015,” she said.

According to Landry, enterprise social technology’s rapid growth is driven by four reinforcing forces: everyone, anytime, anything and everywhere. “The rich experience is with the person in context,” she said. “That makes the technology invisible.”

As a result of the “invisibility” of enterprise social technology, where it is so integrated with user’s daily lives they don’t notice it, Landry said it will become a platform, or “part of how everyone lives and breathes. Thus in the near future, enterprise social tools will enable the augmentation of business processes and applications from any source.