Microsoft Tightens the Reins on Office 365

4 minute read
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Companies are still signing up for Yammer — despite the fact that user adoption remains a problem. 

In fact, according toYammer co-founder David Sacks, the British grocery retailing giant Tesco has just inked a 250, 000 seat deal with Yammer. The information was contained in a memo from Sacks to Microsoft employees.

Sacks announced on Twitter late last week that he is leaving Microsoft, but did not specify why.

Sack’s Resignation

Sack's resignation comes as Microsoft continues to pull Yammer under the Office 35 umbrella, a process that started almost as soon as the $1.2 billion acquisition was closed two years ago. There was nothing exceptional in the memo, which was obtained by VentureBeat, and it sheds absolutely no light on why he is leaving Microsoft or where he is going.

Leaving aside the dubious assertion that the rise of Yammer and rise of social business — or at least the acceptance of social business — are somehow linked, it does point to the fact that companies like Tesco are signing up for Yammer.

It’s amazing that in just a few years Yammer could grow from a small band who set out to win TechCrunch40, to a fledgling enterprise startup virtually begging for our first deal (just $25k), to a 400-person organization closing multi-million dollar deals across the globe and signing up over 10 million corporate users. Over the past two years at Microsoft, we’ve continued to see enormous growth as a result of both Yammer innovation and integration with Office 365, the largest paid commercial cloud service. We recently signed one of our largest deals ever, a 250,000 user sale at Tesco that will roll us out beyond traditional knowledge workers to every grocery store employee."

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Sacks also noted that Microsoft’s “cloud-first, mobile-first” development strategy is being built around Yammer. Yammer, it seems, is also the ‘bad boy’ of the Microsoft stable, even if Microsoft doesn’t really do bad boys and historically has taken a fairly dim view of dissent:

We’ve always tried to foster dissent because we know that diverse points of view keep a company strong and competitive in a world changing faster than any one person can keep track of,” Sacks said.

Yammer and Office 365

Maybe that’s what has led to his departure, but probably not.What’s more likely to be in play here is the way Microsoft is pulling Yammer deeper and deeper into the Office 365 environment.

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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.

Learning Opportunities

Microsoft has also announced that it will be pulling the Yammer team together with Outlook and Office 365 shared teams with the promise of an integrated set of social, communication and collaboration tools.

This, however, has always been part of Microsoft’s strategy for Yammer and, as Forrester pointed out it is recent Wave for Enterprise Social Q2, Microsoft is only doing now what it has always promised to do.

By integrating it deeper into Office 365, it is carrying out the promise to integrate Yammer into SharePoint Online along with its document management, team sites, and other functions.

Later this year, Microsoft will also be releasing Oslo, which will be the first Office 365 application that spans a whole bunch of other applications to generate a social graph and drive recommendation from workers.

By doing this, and by doing it at no charge — even external licenses are now free —Microsoft is effectively creating an Office 365 platform as an integrated set of services and not a set of disassociated applications that are related to each other and which provide.

This effectively deals with one of the major sticking points that David Lavenda identified last week, notably that workers are not taking to Yammer is because of this lack of contextualized working environments.