Pulling Back the Curtain on Yammer MSIgnite

The future of Yammer is about teams, external users and an improved mobile experience. At least that's the vision Microsoft laid out for the enterprise social network at the Ignite conference in Chicago today.

Juliet Wei, senior product marketing manager at Yammer, and Gadi Ben Zvi, Yammer's director of product management, offered a sneak peak of the evolving platform — with a caveat that it was still a work in progress.

Go Team, Go

There are three themes driving the development of Yammer: teamwork, efficiency and scaling for impact. Of these, groups or teams appears to be the most significant.

Microsoft wants to provide a tool that will support dynamic, evolving teams, even beyond the enterprise firewall, Wei said. Yammer wants to be a resource for teams struggling with information overload, she explained.

"The information growth changes the way we work with each. It’s now a communal effort but productivity is still siloed. Yammer responds to this by offering a new way to work," she said.

By enabling users to create groups, Zvi said, workers can selectvely share and collaborate with the right people to get things done. That's more productive than posting a message that is visible to the entire organization, he explained — which he described as the equivalent to sending an email to everyone in the company. He explained:

So we thought, let’s reduce the context, and let’s reduce the scope of sharing. To do this we needed to evolve Yammer to focus on teams and allowing them to cooperate openly. What we are trying to do is mimic the way people work."

Yammer will also be integrated deeper into Office 365. Users will be able to post signals into Office 365 as well as make those signals part of the Office Graph. That means all users will be able to share Yammer content in Skype for Business, Outlook email and OneDrive, as well as discover content in Delve.

As part of the redevelopment, the Yammer team is redesigning pages to make the presentation cleaner and the navigation easier to use.

Working Externally

Zvi also demonstrated the ability to invite external users into Yammer conversations, and bring those who are not on Yammer into conversations through email notifications. To include an external participant, you add their email address into the conversation and invite them to take part. They can either enter the conversation through their own Yammer network, or if they can reply through their email inbox, he explained.

With Yammer integrating deeper into Office 365, the ability to include participants from beyond the firewall could be seen as a security risk. However, external users have limited access: they can participate only in conversations to which they are invited and access content they are specifically invited to see.

Zvi noted that some 40 percent of US workers will will work externally or freelance by 2020, making functionality like a core requirement for a networking platform.

With so much talk of enterprise mobility, it is not surprising that the team wants Yammer to be functional on the go. Zvi said Yammer will be easier to use on mobile and that the mobile experience will be faster and more effective. Microsoft is also working on a new photo publisher that will allow users take photos and post them to Yammer.

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