Yammer vs. Email

Posted on 2/9/2014 @ 6:20 PM in #SharePoint by | Feedback | 3049 views

If only I had a penny for every time I find myself in a discussion about email vs. yammer.

In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft made some amazing improvements to SharePoint’s social features. My Sites were finally scalable, newsfeeds were finally reliable and usable. You had hashtags, and mentions. All in all, it was shaping into a pretty good product. But on the other hand, you had Yammer, making amazing strides, frankly showing a lot of parallel and better capabilities like SharePoint. So what did Microsoft do? Instead of fighting Yammer, Yammer was bought by Microsoft, for billions of dollars. It is at the forefront of Microsoft’s products that will play an important role going forward. It is something that Microsoft wants to succeed.

Yammer has potential, I want it to succeed too. Especially since Office 365 and SharePoint on-prem need an unconfused social story. As of today, it is an incredibly confused story, especially for 100% on-premises users, which is by the way majority of SharePoint installations and usage.

I also find myself in the midst of a lot of communities. Without taking actual names, these are groups of some very smart people, in various circles, and frequently the subject of Email vs. Yammer keeps coming up. In the past month alone, I have seen the same question arise on 3 different such forums.

Let me say this – I want yammer to succeed. I have nothing against it. But as of today, I don’t miss yammer AT ALL. I have tried to use it, in the maelstrom that my day ends up being, I cannot find the attention to force myself to go to yammer, yet I find myself staying on top of emails. In all the communities that I am a part of on yammer, no one uses Yammer in the long run. And no one has been able to unseat email. Without exception, email wins, every time.

Why is this so? To understand this, lets take a trip into history. This battle has been fought before, in newsgroups vs. forums.

Way back newsgroups were super awesome - they were the best of yammer and email. They had threaded conversations, they had offline access, they had searchability. They had some pretty good clients too. Following threads was awesome, you could quote replies. I miss newsgroups even today. Microsoft support gradually moved from newsgroups to forums. I’d say we lost a lot in that transition, but we also gained searchability, and community features. So over that many year transition, the transition was worthwhile. Though I wish there was a way to do both. To appease the crowds, Microsoft did promise “both” for a while, and later on unceremoniously killed newsgroups as the defacto interaction. Still, we gained quite a lot in the process, the transition was worthwhile. I am hoping, after the dust settles, yammer will see such a transition too.

But yammer’s fight is a bit tougher than newsgroups. Since newsgroups, email has grown, and it’s alternatives (like yammer) are quite poor.

Here are my top 10 reasons for why email kicks yammer’s ass,

    1. Email has offline access. Yammer may or may not have offline access through it’s apps, see the next bullet.
    2. Email fits in my natural routine. Yammer requires me to go to a website (all yammer apps on all platforms SUCK)
    3. Email has searchability, yammer has lostability  – the information isn’t mine to keep. Why should I participate in a community when I cannot reference or find the data when I need it?
    4. Email has rules, for instance I use gmail to create a filter that segregates emails into a label, and if any particular conversation becomes too annoying, I just mute it.
    5. Email is more personal, I can pick a message and reply to it, or reply only to one person.
    6. Email has LOADS of storage, GIGABYTES of it.
    7. Email has notifications, yammer uses email to draw attention to itself – and sucks at doing so.
    8. Email allows me to choose an audience. Yammer forces me to pick a preselected audience
    9. Email can be completely controlled by corps. Yammer is cloud only.
    10. And then email is integrated with calendar, tasks, etc. etc. Yammer’s API is a joke, and Yammer is an island on it’s own that no body visits.

The one thing about email clients though, I wish it understood that “SV” and “RE” are reply - and grouped threads together
Besides that, email rocks! I do get some spam email, but Gmail does a pretty fabulous job of filtering it out.

All in all, I don’t miss or use Yammer. How about you?

Sound off but keep it civil:

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