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Yammer Review from End User perspective

I've been using Yammer since more than 6 months. I thought this is the time I share my experience about Yammer. This review is from end user perspective. That means, I do not cover Yammer Network Administration related activities.

Yammer is a social networking portal for Enterprise. Loosely, it is like facebook for the companies. Ever since Microsoft bought Yammer, the buzz is that Microsoft would invest more on Yammer than SharePoint when it comes to discussion related features. Yammer being a cloud offering, the companies need not worry about upgrades as well as capacity planning. MS will take care of them.

Basically using Yammer, users can collaborate seamlessly in the form of discussions. People can create public and private groups to target discussions on specific topics. Just like Twitter or Facebook, people can follow fellow people, Files and Discussions.

I'll get into the features of Yammer with what works and/or its limitations. Towards the end of this post, I'll also share some useful links to know more about Yammer.

Yammer Features:

Update/Post Status - This is just like posting a message in Facebook or Twitter. Unlike Twitter, there is no explicit limitation on number of characters we can post. I could able to post pretty lengthy messages, however I have not really tested how big it can take. Once the post is submitted, it cannot be edited. It can only be deleted. This is sensible as someone should not edit the post after getting lots of Likes! One limitation is we can post the message only to one group at a time. This is really weird.

Announcement - This is similar to Post with the exception that this is available only to group/network Admins. Another feature of Announcement is we can post rich texts such as Bold, Italic, bulleted and hyperlinks. Perhaps, Microsoft can provide this basic need for normal Post as well.

Poll - Anyone who is part of the group can conduct a poll. This is always a single selection that means only one can be selected. One limitation or may be feature is the person who conducted the poll cannot see who has voted for what. This might be relevant for majority of the cases, however in some cases when we need to get inputs from users (like Voting in Outlook), this feature becomes unusable.

Praise - This is one really a cool feature where you can praise your fellow user citing the reasons. This is one way of appreciating a person in public. We can praise more than one person and that is really useful and practical.

Files - People can upload files and start the discussion around it. If you are from SharePoint background, let me tell you, Yammer is not document management system. So you cannot expect check-out, check-in option. Though Version history is maintained. it is limited to only 2 versions (Current and previous). It also does not show what changes were done to file. So, it is a good practise to mention the changes either within a document or as a post connected to that file. Another point worth mentioning here is the documents will be rendered within browser (just like Office web app). Strange thing here is, this will not work for Excel documents.

Notes - This feature is something like Wiki where people can collaborate on specific topics without having to create it as Documents. There is an Auto-save option and we can invite others to collaborate. When it is done, it can be published. Notes supports rich-text formatting (though not as exhaustive as Word)

Conversations - This is the heart of Yammer. People can reply to a post/announcement/praise/poll. People can also reply to specific post in a thread. However, I felt, it should have displayed in threaded view instead of flat view. When the conversation grows, it is really difficult to see for which post this was responded.

Likes - People can like any post.

Tags - Tags can be added to posts using hashtag (#). Tags are excellent way of categorizing posts.

Bookmark - Any specific post or conversation can be bookmarked. This is useful when you want to read at later point of time.

Groups - Groups can be created to channelize the discussions around specific topic. Public Group is open to all. People can participate without joining the group. Private Group is on invitation/approval basis. To participate or view any conversation of private group you have to be member of that group.

Related Groups - A group can be marked as related to another group. This way, people will basically come to know about related group and they may wish to join that group as well.

Inbox - Yammer has inbox however this is not like gmail, outlook kind of messaging service. Basically, notifications will be delivered to the inbox. We can always stop getting mails from posts. However, user will not have any option to stop getting message for Announcements (Not sure if this option can be set at Network level).

Notifications - When any person likes your message, or adds you to a group, you'll get Notifications. This is another pretty cool feature.

Navigation - All the groups to which user belongs to are listed in the left side of the window. One important feature here is this list is sorted based on active participation of the user in the groups. The group in which the user is most active will be displayed at top in the list.

External Network - Network is the powerful way of connecting with people who are outside your network such as Customers, and Vendors.

Summary: Yammer is really a powerful way of connecting and collaborating with colleagues. It is to be noted that SharePoint is now document centric collaboration platform and Yammer is discussion centric collaboration platform. Microsoft has integrated the power of both the worlds in O365/SharePoint online.

In my next post, I'll cover some of the use cases where Yammer can be used.

Further read:
Yammer Home
Yammer Security FAQ
Yammer Help

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