Twitter in the Enterprise: Yammer and other microsharing / microblogging products

November 22, 2008

The last few weeks I had a closer look at Twitter-like solutions that work within the enterprise. This is a summary post of the discussions that I have found on the internet. It is mainly focussed on the new enterprise microblogging product ‘Yammer.com’

Yammer at TechCrunch

Short summary description of Yammer: ‘Yammer Wins TechCrunch 50 with Twitter-like Enterprise Service’

TechCrunch50 Awards Ceremony – Yammer (video)

Short video explaining the functionality of Yammer: Yammer presentation by David Sacks, CEO of Yammer at Techcrunch50

Summary description from the Yammer site:

‘Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you working on?”

As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. The basic Yammer service is free. Companies can pay to claim and administer their network’

Other remarks in this presentation:

- a tag cloud give insight into what people are talking about within the organization

- comparison with email: conversation is shifted from email to Yammer, enabling other employees to find relevant information

- Apple iPhone, Adobe AIR clients are available

- Business model : everything is free; you pay to be administrator to remove users, enhanced security (like IP address ranges, password policies).

Pistachio consulting

‘Pistachio consulting’ has an excellent blog on Microsharing/ Microblogging.

On Yammer, they present  is an overview of all articles related to Yammer, which is an enterprise microsharing solution. Yammer is a ready-to-use solution (Software as a Service)

Downside of this solution is that you have less control, and that the data is not within your organizations’ firewall, but at the service provider. Upside is that you do not have to take care of all servicing yourself (updating the software, backup etc, problem resolution, customer service, etc).

Comparison matrix of Yammer and 14 rival microsharing solutions: ‘Twitter’s “water cooler” collaboration, support and problem-solving qualities have led to much discussion about a similar application for internal “Enterprise 2.0″ collaboration and communication.  Yammer’s success touched off a spate of announcements about similar applications, and Jeremiah Owyang and I have been tracking the growing list. ‘ (Scribd.com site; free account needed to download the comparison sheet).

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan has a different opinion on Yammer:

‘Twhirl Makes Yammer Irrelevant’: ‘So, to sum that all up: Twitter inside the firewall, private for your business is Twhirl+laconi.ca. Twitter outside the firewall with your business colleagues and friends is Twhirl+Twitter’ – Discussion on FriendFeed about this post

Twirl+laconi.ca: Indeed, this might be a good solution when you want to host the service inside our own organization, within the firewall.

Other (some more critical) voices

Mathew Ingram (Communities editor at The Globe and Mail in Toronto): Yammer: This thing is a prize winner?

NY Times article: Will Microblogging at Work Make You More Productive?

BBC is using Yammer: Yammer goes down, companies all over go silent

Mark Evans: If Yammer has potential as an enterprise tool, the big question is why hasn’t Twitter already moved into the corporate market. For a company scrambling for a business model, you figure that selling a corporate version of Twitter would be a no-brainer.

Good commentary blog post by Steve Boyd: ‘The idea that work activities — like request for meetings, status changes in tasks, peoples comings and goings, and new information about projects — should flow to you rather than sitting in web pages, documents, or emails is compelling.’

‘Yammer is a more-or-less point for point duplication of Twitter functionality, which makes it so odd that Twitter has refused to build this product. That is spectacularly dumb. Here’s what it looks like.’ – Steve Boyd’s own Yammer site:

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Steve Mann (SAP) on Yammer (Steve Mann is a 20-year veteran of the high tech industry. Currently he is a Global Vice President of Marketing for SAP, focused on driving SAP’s Social Media Strategies to market. ): ‘In the hopes of becoming part of an Enterprise 2.0 backbone for organizations of all sizes, grouping functionality is absolutely essential. Without it, there’s no way to cleanly and precisely provide direct team support capabilities.’

yammer_sap2

From the NY Times: ‘Now, Brevity Is the Soul of Office Interaction’:

“Every time we put something across Yammer, we’re exposing it to people but not forcing it down their throats,” said Tom Link, chief technology officer of Universal Mind, a Web development company in Westfield, Mass., with 70 employees. “Depending on what they’re doing, people might be paying attention to messages as they’re posted. But if I’m not in the office, I can go back and get the whole company stream for a day and read it in about 10 minutes. I could never do that with e-mail.”

“Companies with many employees who work from home or in far-flung offices may get the most out of internal microblogging, which can help fill the inherent social gaps among remote workers. Even simple updates like, “Going to the dentist” or “Mopping coffee off the keyboard” can make co-workers feel more connected to one another.”

Security concerns

‘Security. Any time a business has employees putting data outside the corporate firewall, there will be privacy and data security concerns. If the Yahooligans could get Gov. Sarah Palin’s private e-mails and post them to the Internet, it could happen to one of your employees.

Yammer’s security statement

Technical

http://www.programmableweb.com/api/yammer: links to API description, blog

Other platforms: Present.ly

Enterprise Twitter heats up with Present.ly

Other platforms: ESME

ESME means Enterprise Social Media Experiment. ‘ESME is a secure and highly scalable microsharing platform that allows people to meet and discover one another in a business process context.’

ESME is an open source development; developers from companies such as SAP and Siemens are contributing to it.

The interesting part is that this platform is very much focused on delivering a solution that can integrate well into the overall enterprise software landscape. This is no surprise when we see that most of the contributors have strong background in SAP.

More on this platform later, in a separate post.


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