So … What is Yammer? My Simple View

You may have heard that Microsoft is buying a company called Yammer for $1.2 Billion dollars. You may be wondering what this means. You also may be wondering just what Yammer is. Below I have provided a very simple, yet I think apropos, description of what Yammer is and why Microsoft was willing to dole out $1.2B dollars to get their hands on it.

First … a little background: The week the Yammer acquisition was announced my family asked me ... at the dinner table ... what Yammer is. Usually they don’t ask me much of anything about what I do at work. Not because they don’t care, but usually because I tell them WAY more than they really wanted to know. So, I was a little floored when they asked.

Then a day later we were out with some other families and a few of the moms and dads asked me the same question.

Note: I had already written a blog post on the pending Microsoft acquisition of Yammer … which, of course, they don’t read those either.

I'll bet you are dying to know what I told 'em, right?

imageMy reply started out with a typical techy type reply. With the Rube Goldberg type description. However, I could tell I was losing them rapidly.

So, I shifted gears and said:

 "Yammer is a way to allow employees to collaborate on projects while BYPASSING the IT department"

While this may seem like a completely asinine way of thinking. To the employees that want to get things done, that NEED to get things done, yet don’t have the time (or patience) to ask IT for help while possibly being put on a long waiting list … Yammer filled a gap.

In this sense Yammer was leading the way in the Consumerization of IT (COIT). Yammer helped the downtrodden employee to take a proactive stance by providing a solution that bypassed the typical IT organization hierarchy.

  • Was this right?
    • Maybe, but that’s not the point of this article. The point is … Yammer made it possible for employees to take actions that enabled them to be more collaborative, more productive and to get their jobs done more effectively.
  • Was it risky?
    • Sure, but again … that’s not the point of this article. Sure, posting documents in the Yammer cloud was fraught with risks to document security and governance and so much more.
    • This will be Microsoft’s problem now. Microsoft has much deeper pockets than Yammer. I suspect there will be some low profile data breaches that we’ll never hear about. I also suspect there will be some larger more visible breaches. How these are handled will set the trend for the entire industry.
  • Did it work? Absolutely. To the tune of $1.2B dollars.

 Yammer is a way to allow employees to collaborate on projects while BYPASSING the IT department

I have been using the description ever since. I think it is quite apropos. What Yammer did exceptionally well was to allow employees to setup their own "sharing networks" without having to ask permission or to wait for IT's blessing.

While some may dismiss this idea as wrong and risky ... I think it defines and describes why Microsoft was willing to shell out over $1B to get this technology and seek to get this "free wheeling, solution oriented" customer base in their camp.

What do you think?

  • How do you describe Yammer?
  • Will Yammer change the way Microsoft does Social Computing?
  • What else do you see that Yammer did to help companies and/or employees?

Coming Up: For my next post I’m going to be writing about how Yammer is different than Facebook. I am also starting a mini-project with a goal of providing a more detailed look at how Yammer is different than Facebook with SB Chatterjee. Stay tuned for these. Also, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments or via my contact points below.

About The Author: I have spent the last 20 years working in various aspects of the ECM industry. I am currently with Kodakas a Director of Business Development. In my past I have spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and at Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Image Credits: Mousetrap by Milton Bradly, Erik Sherman


Joel Oleson said…
Not only does Yammer bypass IT it also breaks down a ton of other silos built up such as legal and IP reviews, and democratizes communication. All power is in the hands of the users.
SBC said…
Yammer can also help bring in an enterprise's customers by exposing its organizational structure to its customers (consumers). This would allow the customer directly participate in the enterprise's product & service development itself.. This video was in response to Mike Gannoti's blog posting about 3 years ago using SharePoint & Facebook platforms as an example but now with Yammer it be more feasible -