Microsoft and Yammer continue to refuse comment on plans for Microsoft to acquire the enterprise social networking company for a reported $1.2 billion, but that hasnt dampened the speculation about what such a deal might mean.
Tom Kelly is the CEO of Moxie Software, which delivers an enterprise social media platform that uses crowdsourcing and collaboration as a way of assisting sales and improving customer support for about 600 global business customers. He says the interest by Microsoft in acquiring Yammeralong with the recent buyout of similar ventures by large enterprise software companiesvalidates the nascent enterprise social media space.
Social enterprise software is without a doubt becoming mainstream in the thinking of both customers, enterprises and, of course, all the major players are reflecting that both in their development strategies and their acquisitions, Kelly said.
Just within the last month or so the acquisition activity has been brisk.
Salesforce.com snapped up Buddy Media for close to $700 million to complement its existing Chatter social media platform. Oracle added Collective Intellect and Vitrue to its portfolio of social media-related acquisitions. SAP acquired Ariba for $4.3 billion, although thats more of a collaboration company than enterprise social media. However, many of these platforms combine collaboration (a la Microsoft Lync/SharePoint) with social media (a la Facebook). VMware announced a new pricing strategy for its Socialcast enterprise social service, offering a full-featured suite of services free for up to 50 users.
Despite a Wall Street Journal report June 15 that a deal had been made, both companies told eWEEK June 22 by email that they decline to comment on rumors and speculation.
While applauding Yammer for its successit has raised $140 million in venture capital since its founding in 2008 and reportedly has more than 200,000 companies using its servicesKelly described Yammer as largely a microblogging platform with some unique features for user profiles and for creating groups within Yammer. He also said most people do not think of Yammer as a secure platform that enterprises would want in a social media solution.
However, Kelly added that Yammer still brings a lot to Microsoft and that Microsoft has the resources to make the most of a Yammer acquisition. For instance, Yammer would be ideal for integration with Microsofts SharePoint offering.
The SharePoint solution, which is a document-centric solution, while its a very powerful and good solution, is not sufficient to meet this growing demand for social capabilities and its not sufficient in its present state, he said.
Kelly seeks to distinguish Moxies offering from others in the market. With its Moxie Spaces cloud collaboration application, the focus is on using social networking to address customer problems during the sales cycle and in after-sale customer support. The product uses crowdsourcing to share a problem with multiple people with the organization, making it more likely that one of them will be able to offer a solution. He described some of the other social media companies acquired by Oracle, Salesforce.com and the like as point solutions.
Companies are getting into social media not just in a me-too rush to jump in on something popular, but to integrate social media with core enterprise IT systems, wrote Forrester analyst Melissa Parrish.
When I talk to marketers about their requirements for these platforms, one of the things that comes up high on everybodys list is integration with other enterprise systems, Parrish wrote in a June 4 blog. The two systems that get mentioned the most [are] non-social analytics and non-social CRM.
Moxies Kelly concurs, saying that if a company is not collaborating on its social media platform to deliver marketing, engineering, sales or customer support theyre missing the fundamental value proposition of enterprise social networking.