Social Business, Planning for SharePoint 2013? Make Sure You've Got Yammer on the Brain
A month ago Microsoft gave some insight into the roadmap for Yammer, providing a glimpse at what the future of Social could look like for SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises.

The blog post, written by Jared Spataro, Senior Director, Microsoft Office Division, lays out exactly where Microsoft expects Yammer to go through the end of 2013, and presents a pretty compelling argument that the future of Social and SharePoint is through Yammer. So if you’re planning a 2013 environment and you’re wanting to incorporate Social capabilities, you should be looking at Yammer as that integration piece.

So why Yammer? For starters, as Spataro noted, adoption is up tremendously over the last year, jumping to nearly eight million users, so the platform is clearly gaining steam. But aside from statistics, we can also take a look at the current functionality and what’s coming down the road to see why Yammer is the way to go.

Current and Future Yammer / SharePoint Integrations

Right now, there’s a web part that allows you to replace your main SharePoint newsfeed with the Yammer newsfeed, and an app that allows you to replace your SharePoint site feeds with a Yammer group feed. It’s a solid start to Yammer integration into SharePoint, but what Microsoft plans to unveil over the next six to eight months is what makes Yammer promising:

  • Single sign-on: Users will only have to sign on once to access both the Yammer and SharePoint newsfeeds. Current authentication requires you to log in to both, but this will change in the fall.
  • Integrated SharePoint search: Users will be able to search Yammer conversations using SharePoint search, making Social more accessible.
  • SharePoint follow: Currently you can only follow and see updates in the SharePoint newsfeed, but soon this will be integrated with Yammer newsfeeds so you can do it through both platforms.

A few of the other developments coming for Yammer by the end of the year include messaging enhancements that make it easier to use as a primary communication tool, email interoperability and improvements to the Yammer mobile apps.

Potholes in the Roadmap

Despite all the excitement for Yammer and SharePoint moving forward, there still are some drawbacks that organizations will need to be aware of when planning out their Social strategy. Most notably, organizations that can’t have any data in the cloud will have a hard time implementing Yammer because it is cloud-only. You could run SharePoint on-premises and run Yammer in the cloud, but you can’t integrate the two of them together on-premises. Any organization remaining fully on-premises has to stick with SharePoint newsfeed, which will be a disadvantage because with the focus on Yammer, improvements to SharePoint newsfeed will most likely not come.

So what will on-premises customers do? Right now Microsoft is encouraging customers to use Yammer with SharePoint on-premises, but there is no indication as to when an update of integration will be available.

Learning Opportunities

There also is no migration story from SharePoint social (newsfeeds, communities and site feeds) to Yammer social, so this also can cause a planning issue. Organizations will want to know how they will get their current SharePoint social aspects into Yammer before planning their move, so this will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Yes, there are still some questions that need to be answered that could prevent some organizations from adopting Yammer immediately -- Microsoft is treating this as a work in progress. But we've still seen enough, and with knowing what’s coming, to know that any organization planning on utilizing Social within their SharePoint 2013 deployments need to plan on Yammer to ensure they realize the full value from the platform.

Title image courtesy of gwolters (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more about the evolution of SharePoint here.