Does Yammer help lead to more productive workers? The Microsoft-owned enterprise social networker has released a new survey, conducted by an independent firm, that says “yes.” 

According to Yammer's 2013 Business Value Survey by MarketTools, 68 percent of respondents say that Yammer simplifies the process of communicating with colleagues in different locations or departments, and the same percentage says it improves collaboration across remote locations.

Better Informed

Given that a rapid information flow between all departments and levels of a company can be important to fostering agile reaction in the fast-moving marketplace, social networking can help to flatten hierarchies of communication. As an example, the survey quotes one of the respondents who noted that Yammer allows voicing of opinions and ideas directly to the senior management and leadership team.

The survey also found that 68 percent of respondents improve collaboration across remote locations, and 47 percent said that posting updates of their projects on Yammer helps them keep their colleagues better informed.

Keeping informed can help with employees feeling part of an organization and engaged

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in the corporate effort. The study said that 80 percent reported being more informed about what is happening in the organization, 44 percent say it helps new hires get up to speed faster, and 41 percent are more comfortable sharing new ideas and feedback through Yammer than through such old-school methods as email, meetings, or even ancient voice-by-phone.

Exposure to Ideas, Work

Fifty-one percent say they are more connected to their organization’s missions and goals, although Yammer doesn’t indicate how social networking accomplishes that aim. Making employees aware of a company’s missions and goals, of course, is an endeavor completely separate from social networking, unless there is a concerted corporate effort to regularly communicate those aims via Yammer.

Half of the respondents say they can locate relevant information and people faster, 79 percent are exposed to new ideas and innovations, and 76 percent have information about work occurring in other departments and locations.

The Yammer study shows the utility and value of instant, collaborative and pinpointed communications via an enterprise social network, but the reported results have several substantial gaps.

Methodology? Compared to … ?

First, the methodology or sample size is not described, which is standard in survey results. Was it a small, self-selected sample or a large random one? Was it conducted in-person, via Yammer or via the Net? These and other methodology questions help one decide the credibility of the results.

The lack of detail in the study also dilutes the utility of the responses. If 50 percent say they can locate relevant information and people faster, for instance, what are the functions most effective for doing that? Faster than what? It’s hard to get much of a handle on the actual value of these stats.

Social networking within an organization will clearly improve communication between workers, over the lack of any such instantly collaborative messaging. Even plain vanilla IM’s work better for many people than just having email and voice phone. In fact, having a bulletin board where none existed improves communication.

But the percentages of improvement cited by Yammer do not compare Yammer against other kinds of enterprise social communication, which could offer fewer, the same, or more functions than Yammer. For those who wonder if any kind of social networking in a business can improve communication and collaborative, the Yammer stats say yes, but they don’t say why Yammer’s approach is better than others.