8 years, 11 months ago

Why the Yammer Acquisition Means Almost Nothing to Your Enterprise

As soon as the rumors began that Microsoft was in talks to acquire enterprise social vendor Yammer, I started to get inquiries about it from stakeholders. When the acquisition became fact, some of my stakeholders expressed that Yammer had become a more viable option for how we could enable social collaboration within the company.

One of the main pitches that Yammer makes to enterprise customers is the ability to integrate with Sharepoint. They've spent a fair amount of energy building Sharepoint web parts that allow companies to expose Yammer feeds on internal Sharepoint sites and search results. Yammer's focus on Sharepoint was no doubt a major attraction for Micrsoft.

I would argue that while the acquisition is great for Microsoft, and absolutely fabulous for Yammer's investors, for most enterprises it's not really a net positive and potentially, could be quite negative depending on your company's disposition towards the cloud.

Yammer is a SAAS-product. It's highly unlikely that Microsoft will replatform it as an on-premise application. For companies that have enterprise agreements, this means that Yammer will likely be an additional license fee, just like Microsoft's other cloud offerings (O365, Sharepoint Online, InTune, etc.). At best, Microsoft might offer a discount for customers with enterprise licenses. If you're motivated to bring in Yammer to improve your Sharepoint environment, you don't need to wait for the acquisition to complete – you can purchase a license from Yammer today.

The net negative may depend on how comfortable your company is with having social collaboration tools in a SAAS environment on a public cloud and how much you trust Microsoft with this information. Without IT's permission, it's already possible for employees to establish Yammer accounts and network with others in the same company. Since the service is only very loosely tied to your directory service, there's risk that former employees and/or contractors could have access to the Yammer feeds since they need to be manually deactivated. That's a fair amount of overhead for an unsanctioned service.

A second negative – depending on how much you trust Microsoft and the SLAs that govern Yammer – is that those feeds are exposed to the company. The level of risk exposure could be minimal – an unsanctioned social network might not see too much traffic but it really depends on your comapny's risk threshold.

All in all, an interesting move by Microsoft to improve it's direction towards cloud-based offerings.