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Much ado about Yammer - a news announcement (and three postscripts)

It’s official: Microsoft has acquired Yammer. And with this much-awaited news, Microsoft lifts itself several rungs higher on the social ladder. Not that Microsoft was ever the wallflower at the party – to extend the social metaphor – but with Yammer as part of its offering, it’s now significantly closer to the drinks table, the drinks are looking punchier than ever, and the conversation looks set to flow more freely.

It’s significant news in the Microsoft world, and as a Microsoft partner (New Zealand’s Microsoft Partner of the Year, no less – forgive the shameless plug, but the news is only one day old) and as users of Yammer since late 2010, we’re excited. We’re excited because Microsoft’s social game has officially been upped; we’re excited because we were excited about the upcoming launch of SharePoint 2013 anyway, and now we’re even more excited because Yammer has entered the picture (the dashing youngster in the room, if we’re carrying on with my party analogy); and we’re excited in general because we’re a bunch of excitable geeks at heart, and this sort of news – a harbinger of innovation and change in the tech landscape – just makes us happy. 


Microsoft and Yammer

Microsoft and Yammer infographic


Postscript 1: The power of rumour to get the world Yammering

As someone who thinks about the changing nature of communication a lot – or perhaps just likes the sport of chasing a Twitter rumour running rampant – I can’t not mention the activities of the Yammer-Twitter rumour mill in the weeks preceding yesterday’s announcement.

In the beautifully orchestrated lead-up to yesterday’s official announcement (whether accidental or not), there has been much said. In a fortnight of nearly-but-not-really-knowing, we’ve been treated to an online smorgasbord of what-ifs. Up until yesterday, speculation ran rampant. The Twitterverse was full of dead-ends – a proliferation of shortened URLs taking eager rumour hunters down rabbit holes and then promptly imploding. A virtual bucketload of experts theorised as to the motives for and import of the mythical deal. Opinion and conjecture reigned supreme in the blogosphere. And now it’s finally official.

The suspense, of course, was the stuff of marketers’ dreams. The less we have to go on, the more we want it. The quieter the whisper, the louder the yammer, as it were.

It has been a fascinating spectacle. Between this and Microsoft’s announcement of Surface last week, my Twitter feed has been brimming over with crowded wisdoms and technological soothsaying. I scarcely remember the specific qualities of the grapevine pre-internet, but I’m picturing someone in frilly garb standing with a loudhailer on a podium in a town square, townsfolk scurrying the information forth with haphazard urgency. It’s easy to forget what life was like in the pre-internet, pre-social world. News has always travelled fast, but the internet has gone and turbo-boosted it beyond all recognition.


Postscript 2: a field trip to Yammer HQ

Initially – before hushed word of a possible Microsoft-Yammer deal caught hold – this post was going to be about Intergen’s use of Yammer. And also my recent field trip to the Yammer headquarters on a recent trip to San Francisco. And now it’s not.


Hannah Novick and Aaron Zukoski at Yammer’s San Francisco headquarters, early June 2012

Hannah Novick and Aaron Zukoski at Yammer’s San Francisco headquarters, early June 2012


All I’ll say on this front now is that Intergen is a keen Yammer user. And it was really great to be able to visit the SoMa converted warehouse and see inside the Yammer hive. One of the first things that struck me was a huge amount of energy, excitement and – unsurprisingly enough – a really collaborative vibe. It felt like things were happening. And in a way I felt at home, too – guys with laptops vying for glass-doored meeting spaces with urgency, the reverent hush of pods of people making great things out of grey matter. It felt familiar, like an everyday scene from an Intergen office (if the weather had been about 15 degrees warmer outside, and if Intergen provided its staff three meals a day).

Postscript 3: The intranet and the enterprise social network –“It’s not an either/or situation,” Paddy Payne, our Director of Consulting and Architecture Services, tells me a week or so ago.

Consider this postscript an advertisement for a future blog, as there’s plenty to be said on the matter. To give some context, somewhere in the murky depths of the last few weeks I read this blog post, from an interview with Yammer’s CTO and co-founder, Adam Pisoni. The title says it all: The Future of Collaboration and Communication is not the Intranet.

I sat down with Paddy and, as you might imagine, he had a few things to say on the matter. Check back here next week for a write up of our chat on the subject.

And with today’s/yesterday’s news, it most certainly isn’t an either/or situation. The ball game has changed, and we’ll be watching it with great interest.

Posted by: Katy Sweetman, Marketing Director, Empired Group | 27 June 2012

Tags: Social Media, Microsoft, Yammer

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