Yammer – Useful To You?

Yammer logo About a month ago I wrote about Yammer, the "Twitter behind the firewall" service that won the top prize at this year’s TechCrunch50 conference.

At the time I wrote:

I expect Yammer’s success in any particular company to be determined by organizational culture, how it is implemented and whether people actually use it, rather than shortcomings of the service.

Both before and after that post, we’ve been trying-out Yammer at work. Today I and a few of my colleagues exchanged opinions on the service and, unsurprisingly, there were a variety of opinions expressed.

Differing opinions

Some people (myself included) thought that Yammer has the potential, especially in companies where people are geographically distributed, to help groups of coworkers to collaborate more closely without clogging inboxes; essentially functioning as a group instant messenger service.

Other people, meanwhile, felt that Yammer can be distracting and that it duplicates both email and IM.

Broader input

To get a better idea of other peoples’ perspectives, I threw a quick question out on Twitter:

"Interesting conversation at work today – are Yammer/other ‘internal’ microblogging services just replicating email? Do we need them?"

Also unsurprisingly, given the social media types in my Twitter crowd, the conversation that emerged was generally positive about the service:

Eden Spodek: @davefleet I think Yammer etc. makes a lot more sense in a large enterprise than in a small office where email and f2f is just fine.

Shannon Whitley: @EdenSpodek There are a lot of small offices these days where all of workers are virtual (e.g. Automattic). Microsharing perfect there.

Eden Spodek: @swhitley Agreed. I was thinking of offices where people share the same physical space. I should have specified.

Shannon Whitley: @edenspodek I knew what you meant, and I agree with you.

Yammer Team: @davefleet The difference is that you get to choose what messages you receive on Yammer, but not through email. Use the ‘following’ feature.

Jenny Bullough: @davefleet @edenspodek We’re trying out Yammer for short convs btwn Tdot and NYC offices – faster than email and no-one feels out of loop

Daniele Rossi: @davefleet We use it at my work on a small scale and so far it seems not be redundant.

Rob Tyrie: @davefleet by inspection if email could do what twitter does… there would be no twitter… email has it’s uses but it’s not everything.

What do you think?

Personally, right now I’m on the fence. I still think Yammer has potential but, as I said originally and as with any IT solution, that success depends on whether and how people use the service and whether it fits with your organization’s culture.

I’m going to bend my mind to this a bit more over the next day or so… but if you’ve used Yammer, what do you think?

  • Hi Dave,

    I’m with you. I’m sure it has potential to be a great inter-office tool, but I also agree that sometimes it feels like a duplication of communication and a distraction (occasionally).

    In my opinion, it depends on the level of adoption. If you can get everyone in an organization on board and understanding the purpose of the tool (collaboration in this case) then it has great potential to become a virtual brainstorming session of sorts.

    However, if not everyone adopts the tool, or isn’t entirely sure of why it is different than email or IM, then it becomes a bit muddy. It can create a divide where certain people who use it are ‘in the loop’ and those who do not are out of it. That’s when I think it becomes a duplication in service – because those who are participating need/want to pass on the information to others using more traditional means (email/IM and even f2f).

    I hope my rant makes sense? Just my thoughts though.

    -K

  • I haven’t used Yammer, Dave, but it seems the hot topic in employee communication these days is micro-blogging. I’m an advocate, but it’s easy to be one when you’re familiar/comfortable with the space. The larger issue, as Kerri hinted to, is making this tool as accepted as email. And honestly, once there’s the buy-in, organizations will see that this thing has the opportunity to reduce email clutter, boost employee engagement/conversation and office cohesion.

  • I still have fundamental issues with Yammer’s business model, which I’ve gone on and on about in the past. I can’t get past it.

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  • Hi! Yammer is not useful, Yammer is a great product that has ability to improve communications and create transparency by virtually making company’s structure flat. I work for LADevelopers Inc. (http://www.ladevelopers.com) a California based software development firm. We specialize in custom Yammer solutions for enterprise and know this product inside out. Please contact us if you need any help with it.