Yammer, which competes with Socialtext, Socialcast, IBM and Cisco Systems, on March 1 will launch Yammer Communities, a free service that lets workers extend microblogging beyond the firewalled confines of corporate e-mail domains. With Yammer Communities, users create private B2B microblogging networks through which to coordinate with external contacts. Socialcast on March 2 plans to unveil Socialcast Enterprise Activity Stream Engine, which will include total integration with Microsoft Outlook through a new connector.
Yammer March 1 will
launch Yammer Communities, a free service that lets workers extend
microblogging beyond the firewalled confines of corporate e-mail domains.
Yammer is a communications service for businesses by which company employees
can communicate via Twitter-like status updates. The company launched in 2008,
has banked $15 million in funding and boasted a seven-figure run-rate in its
first year. Yammer rivals offering microblogging tools include Socialtext,
Socialcast, MindTouch and giants such as IBM
and Cisco Systems.
Yammer CEO David Sacks said on a conference
call Feb. 25 that while 60,000 companies were using Yammer, some of these
customers said they wanted to extend the microblog service to partners,
customers, suppliers and others outside the corporate firewall.
Yammer Communities will let these users create private business-to-business
microblogging networks so they may coordinate with external contacts. A user
will create a Yammer Community and invite other contacts to join it.
"We call this the B2B social graph," Sacks said. "We feel
like this is sort of the next evolution of enterprise microblogging, to not
just allow internal communication but to link all of these companies together
via these private communities so we can facilitate B2B communication."
Sacks showed in a demo how to set up new accounts in Communities, in a process
similar to the Yammer Groups setup. Sacks input a network name, description and
thumbnail, and invited users by e-mail. Communities may be set up so that only
admins or any user can invite new contacts to a Communities network.
The key distinction between Yammer Groups and Communities, Sacks said, is
that Groups users are expressly within a company domain. Communities networks
are geared for external communication. Domain-based networks still require
verified company e-mail.
Indeed, Yammer put a premium on security for Yammer Communities. Communities
are accessed by invitation only and each network is a completely private
workspace. Users have a separate profile on each network, with only a name and
photo in common. While invited users may move freely between networks, the data
Security features include two-factor authentication, IP restriction,
password policies, the ability to block users, and the ability to monitor
keywords and export for e-discovery.
Yammer Communities launches with more than one dozen partners. These include
Alcatel-Lucent, where employees are using it to collaborate with customers and
partners, and Deloitte, where employees are using it to work with clients about
Sacks said Yammer Communities, which will also run on the Yammer iPhone
application and AIR desktop client, operates
on the "freemium" model, though companies can pay $3 to $5 per user,
per month, for additional security and administration perks.
Hot on Yammer's heels, rival Socialcast March 2 plans to unveil Socialcast EASE
(Enterprise Activity Stream Engine), "the most advanced release of its
EASE will include total integration with Microsoft Outlook through a new
connector. This means Socialcast will pipe enterprise activity streams directly
into the Outlook application.
EASE, which will also include the Socialcast business analytics suite, will
be available as an on-premises virtual appliance or as a SAAS (software as a