Yammer on Tour

The Yammer tour kicked off yesterday in Sydney. It comes to Melbourne tomorrow. It was certainly a well-patronised event and it was great to see so many people taking interest in what has become a new communication paradigm. I haven’t had much to do with Yammer. I have a login and just little old me in the Home network, but fortunately, Yammer created a network for everyone who had registered to attend the event. So, I had a chance to dive in a see how things really worked in there.

It’s so much more than Twitter for the enterprise, which is how I’ve heard it described before. There’s no character limit for starters, but there’s also a collaboration tool in the form of Yammer pages. One use case is to hold meetings within Yammer and invite stakeholders to comment on the topic within a Yammer page. You see the page update on the fly with the colour-coded comments and then can go back to edit and save as meeting minutes, if you like. There’s also built-in gamification in the form of a leaderboard, so you can see the most active conversations and members, amongst other things.

The Chief Customer Officer, David Obrand, shared some useful insights with the crowd, as did the customer panellists and Australian Enterprise Relationship Manager, Ross Hill. Here’s a few gems:

  • 62% of the world’s employees work in multiple locations — Yammer brings together 500 volunteers, world-wide, for the Earth Hour initiative.
  • The inherent transparency of conversations in Yammer results in improved behaviour, but when something goes off the rails, employ existing HR channels to manage that issue.
  • Yammer pages allow for crowdsourced content that relate back into conversations as well—providing relevance, accountability, searchability and sharability.
  • Deloitte claim that 15% of Yammer traffic is expertise requests and 30% is water cooler traffic, but that’s ok because it creates connections that enable everything else.
  • When the shit does hit the fan, your Yammer network is safe and contained, unlike email, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • More than a social network, it’s a vehicle for cultural change.
  • All customer panellists were emphatic about a non-policed environment. Any kind of Big Brother activity leads to a stop in conversations.
  • And most profoundly, David Obrand said something I’ve long known but never articulated: voluntary adoption leads to rich, discoverable conversations.

Yammer already integrates with a bunch of third party apps, including Zendesk, and there’s an API for vendors who might be thinking about doing such a thing. I can certainly see the value in that. While I share the motivation for tools like Yammer to replace email in the work environment, I’m still holding true to my thoughts that navigable knowledge management still has a place on the landscape of corporate comms.

For a terrifically balanced opinion that covers the costs involved with using Yammer, read this post by Alex Manchester.

If you were at Yammer on Tour what were you most impressed by or what did you think was lacking? And if you use Yammer in your organisation, I’d love to hear about it in the comments or you could ping me for a guest post.

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