Yammer vs. SharePoint Social

Posted on 2/9/2014 @ 6:47 PM in #SharePoint by | Feedback | 4189 views

I just penned up some thoughts on Yammer vs. Email.

But I started with an interesting opening,

“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.”

Perfect fodder for another blogpost. See, I like to talk, just don’t get enough time to do it.

The sad reality is, today Yammer sucks, and SharePoint social is actually quite good. While, Microsoft has made it clear that Yammer is the future. So what do we do in the present? It is easy for Microsoft to sit in their Ivory towers and pass such broad swathing statements, but it leaves customers in a confused state, directionless, for months and years. Specifically, look at these two blogposts on the SharePoint blog,

Today is February 9 2014. If you were a SharePoint On-Premises customer, you have been left in a confused unusable state for a product that you have paid thousands of dollars for, for months now. This sucks! This especially sucks because SharePoint on-prem is the largest usage scenario we have. This is why, I strongly advise customers to read whatever Microsoft writes out, but use their own intelligence on top. Don’t buy into every demo you see, don’t buy into every amazing feature that is promised to you. Use your head, and talk with independent non-Microsoft employees that will give you an objective view of what works. If a vendor promises you the earth, verify their interests, affiliations, and every single reason why they are pushing a technology on you.

That said, as of today, we know SharePoint social is a dead end. And Yammer is the future. Quoted from the March 19th blogpost up there,

“What should I do?  In my customer meetings over the last few months, people have often asked, “What should I use for social?  Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?”  My answer has been clear: Go Yammer! “

Go Yammer! Go where? Here is where it falls short bordering unusable with SharePoint,

  1. Duplicate functionality between SharePoint and Yammer. That wouldn’t be such a problem if I could replace SharePoint social with Yammer. But I can’t, not for On-prem atleast.
  2. Cost, and more specifically the confusion around cost. Look at Yammer’s pricing - https://about.yammer.com/pricing/. I know it isn’t free. But what is the model of integrating it with SharePoint on-premises. I don’t know how much it’s gonna cost me, but I know, its going to cost me a lot.
  3. Incredibly complicated way of integrated on-prem with yammer. You set up a hybrid farm, I get that (which is not for the faint of heart to begin with). And then the user interface just sucks, plain sucks! You have a lot of parallel features, and yammer does not integrate into SharePoint AT ALL. So if the end user follows a feed, what feed are they following, yammer or SharePoint? For those of us who have rolled out MySites and Social into an enterprise, changing user’s habits is hard. In a world where most enterprises are still struggling to get off of file shares, we want to confuse users with two completely paralell sets of functionalities that don’t mix together well and leave the best of us confused? I can’t roll this out.
  4. Search, there should be a single search box right? Security trimmed etc. Yammer search and SharePoint search are completely different animals. No integration story. Get your developers to craft up a customized solution here – but oh don’t use farm solutions. How do you offer a good UX with search, when using an App? There is that search box on the top right of every SharePoint page that is going to continue to confuse users, how do you fix that, with an App?
  5. SharePoint has sites, and site collections. We spend a lot of effort in aligning this right, to meet the organization’s needs and dare I say silos. Then yammer comes and pisses over all of it, because it doesn’t understand that structure or it’s security layout. Why Yammer WHY!?
  6. Yammer’s mobile apps are atrocious, unusable.
  7. If I wish to follow a user, I follow them in mysite or yammer, or both? How confusing!
  8. Can I have a 100% onprem version of Yammer? Not really!
  9. Yammer has a very poor “my site” functionality. They have a very basic user profile – which oh does NOT integrate with the user profile import that was so hard to set up and get working.
  10. What is the permission level in yammer? Does it have anything in parallel with SharePoint permissions? Not really!
  11. How about community features, badges, about me,  - nah Yammer doesn’t have those either.
  12. That “Tasks aggregation” service that is SO AMAZING in SharePoint 2013, everyone loves it. You turn my sites off, you loose it.
  13. What if I wanted to engage in a conversation with multiple site collections or people at the same time? Hashtag it baby – in SharePoint social I mean. Yammer, forget about it. All your conversations are limited to the group that was picked for you. You can’t even decide on a group.
  14. etc.

All in all, If you are using SharePoint on-prem today, I cannot with a straight face, suggest that you try out Yammer. I also have to tell you, that rolling out social features in SharePoint on-prem puts you at a huge migration risk going forward. This is a topic that we do not have enough clarity about. Lets hope we see some clarity at SPC14, but I’ll believe it not just when I see it, but only after I’ve tried it, myself, to make sure I know where all the landmines are.

What are you doing about SharePoint social features vs. Yammer in your organization? Personally, I am turning SharePoint Social on, and avoiding Yammer for On-Prem right now. For Office 365, Yammer is fine. What are you doing?

Sound off but keep it civil:

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