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How Microsoft is reinventing Productivity and How Yammer fits into that strategy?

Posted by Amit Bhatia on August 26, 2015

Consider Microsoft Office 365 as a door that is open to organizations of all sizes to take advantage of enterprise-caliber productivity applications, social computing, and unified communications. And all these advantages happen without being trapped behind a firewall or constrained by the cost of implementation and maintenance as in the last decade.

Yammer has been an interesting proposition coming from Microsoft Stable. Microsoft slogan with Yammer is “Change the way you work”. It is a vital step in the path of “Reinventing Productivity” as Satya recently said in one of the forums. Before jumping on how Yammer will prove to be a great productivity asset, let us first dive into why Microsoft bought Yammer and continuing to invest in this product. What made Microsoft want to spend more than $1 billion for the social networking company? It could be because Yammer successfully marketed its business virally, offering a basic service for free and then convincing customers to pay for additional features. Before they bought Yammer, Microsoft’s social networking capabilities were weak relatively to its peers. Yammer was brought in to set it right and renewed focus on enterprise social networking. I think the answer is they will integrate Yammer with absolutely all their cloud offerings, and they will also social-enable their on-premise software with web-based components.

Gartner defines social software for the workplaces as software that is used principally for enterprise collaboration by putting individuals, teams, communities and networks in contact with each other. The principal gains in using this software and which Gartner sees as key includes:

  • Making professional contacts.
  • Accessing contact lists of those that can offer advice, reference and referrals.
  • Team formation and collaboration on tasks.

The current social and collaboration market is worth an estimated US$ 840 million (in Sep 2013) but, unlike some other software sectors, is growing strongly. Gartner estimates that between now and 2016, the market will grow 13.4% annually and will be worth US$ 1.4 billion.

That said, the business objectives of social enterprise software remain the same. Those that are responsible for developing enterprise strategies around social software are still looking to:

  • Enhance enterprise information sharing and increase productivity.
  • Support teams across the enterprise by offering learning possibilities and insights into best business practice.

Gartner recognizes Microsoft as a Leader positioned highest in ability to execute and furthest in completeness of vision for social software.

By integrating the components of Yammer with Office 365, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to deliver value to their customers. They also continue to help people get more done and collaborate more effectively with exciting new products like Office Delve, a new way to discover relevant information and connections from across your work life. Powered by the Office Graph, Delve shows you information based on what you’re working on and what’s trending around you. Delve is based on Machine learning and it could be labelled as “Flip-board” like service for Office 365. Delve displays information based on “the work they are doing and the people with whom they are engaging,” in a card-like user interface. With Delve, the idea is users won’t have to remember where their information is stored or who shared it. This information will be surfaced for users automatically, but only when the appropriate permissions are granted. This is going to redefine what I refer to as intelligent social collaboration. Delve uses Microsoft’s internally built Office Graph to ascertain relationship between people, content and activity across Office 365.

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Now, coming to the critical part on how Office 365 plays a crucial rule in reinventing productivity. Here are the top 10 upcoming features that will play a crucial role in evolving that strategy.

  • External Groups In coming releases for Office 365 you may invite customers, partners, and vendors to join your internal groups, so they can quickly access the information they need.
  • Discovery feed surfaces conversations users might miss from relevant groups, Updates in the Discovery feed clearly identify which groups the conversations come from and provide the ability to quickly navigate to and join the groups users are not already a member of straight from the feed.
  • User activity reports will allow you to audit SharePoint and OneDrive for Business user actions such as views, edits, deletes, downloaded files, and sharing of files. These reports will be available in the Compliance Centre. This will be great for metric perspective and evaluating ROI.
  • Yammer’s Group Updates feed for Mobile Apps provides a simple workflow through relevant group content to help users catch up on urgent conversations and discover what others are working on. Users can navigate easily between the feed and their groups, as well as join groups they’re not already a part of, from the feed itself. The Group Updates feed will come to Android first with iOS following shortly after.
  • Yammer integration with the Office 365 Group service managed by Azure Active Directory enables standard membership across Office 365.
  • Office 365 Groups Mobile Apps A mobile app that surfaces Outlook Group conversations and files across iOS, Android and Windows Phone by the end of 2015.
  • Office Online multi-user co-authoring in Yammer Office Online provides an immersive document collaboration experience inside Yammer. Co-author Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files uploaded to Yammer with other people using the immersive Office Online experience. Changes are automatically saved in Yammer where you have the ability to review the version history of each file and mark documents “Official.”
  • Skype for Business for iOS and Android The current Lync mobile applications with Skype for Business mobile in the Google app store will be replaced with Skype for Business.
  • Skype Meeting Broadcast allows up to 10,000 people to view a broadcast of a Skype for Business meeting on the Internet.  This capability is useful for a variety of scenarios, including internal, organization-wide “Town Hall” style meetings and public webinars.  Broadcasts may be viewed live, or after the event.
  • Save to OneDrive for Business in Outlook for iOS & Android Outlook for iOS & Android will be able to view, send files from and save attachments to OneDrive for Business in the Files tab. Today, Outlook works with OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive & iCloud.

As a core part of Office 365, Yammer is committed to leveraging the Office 365 Groups membership service, which will significantly improve and expand the Yammer experience.

Some of you have asked how Yammer and Office 365 Groups co-exists together. Office 365 Groups is an architectural element of Azure Active Directory—not an Office 365 app or experience—whereas Yammer is the immersive social experience within Office 365. Together with identity, Office 365 Groups and Office Graph comprise a shared intelligent fabric across Office 365 that’s also extensible.

Yammer is a critical product in fulfilling this strategy but enterprise now looks to chain Yammer with other products from office 365 stable to see what fits best in their enterprise scenarios and business strategy.

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As you can see, every app in Office 365 and beyond will hook into the intelligent fabric. Your enterprise strategy would be incomplete without the above intelligent fabric. Each Office 365 app is suitable to hook into certain scenarios and it is up to the Microsoft partners and businesses to find that right product fit for the right business scenario. From Microsoft perspective, it is fitting into their Cloud-First Mobile-First Strategy.

 

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