New Yammer Tools Integrate Social Networking with Business Applications

 
 
By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2011-05-18
 
 
 

Eager to win more converts to its enterprise social networking platform, Yammer is introducing a suite of products designed to make it easier for business users to share information and take instant action on information generated from line of business applications, including sales, finance and supply chain systems.

Facing intense competition in enterprises from Salesforce.com's Chatter social collaboration platform, Yammer founder and CEO David Sacks said enterprise social networking shouldn't revolve around a single business application, such as CRM (customer relationship management), alluding to Salesforce.com, which was founded with a focus on CRM, sales and marketing.

Nor should enterprises be expected to implement a separate social network for the employees working with specific line of business applications, whether it is content management, human resources, finance or CRM, Sacks said.

Yammer scored major success in its efforts to sign up major corporate customers when NetSuite announced on May 10 that it will integrate the Yammer social networking platform with its cloud suite of Enterprise Resource Planning, Finance, Sales, eCommerce and Analytics applications.

In making the announcement at its first annual user conference on May 10, Zach Nelson, NetSuite president and CEO, said the company had concluded that it had to provide a social networking platform for NetSuite by either building its own or partnering with an existing platform. NetSuite decided to go with Yammer because it was already marketing an effective social networking platform designed to integrate line of business applications.

The products Yammer announced on May 17 include the Yammer Activity Stream, a new tab on the Yammer Websites that aggregates what Yammer refers to as activity "stories," which are essentially updates on the actions employees have performed with various business applications. These stories are the same as the personal updates that Facebook or Chatter users post about what is going on in their lives or in their business activity.

Activity Stream compiles these stories into a single feed that can be viewed by everybody in a corporate workgroup, department or reporting chain. Sacks said gaining access to these story feeds reduces the distracting "noise" of unrelated reports or updates that workgroups have to deal with in trying to manage business activities through email or with separate reporting streams from multiple business applications.

The company also announced a related product, the Yammer Stream API, which will enable third-party developers to connect business applications to the Yammer Activity Stream. NetSuite used this API to integrate information from the NetSuite applications to the Yammer Activity Stream. A draft specification for the Activity Stream API is available for comment on Yammer's developer site.

The company expects to finalize the specification in June after reviewing the comments. It will then publish the specification so it can be used by third-party developers.

In addition, Yammer announced extensions to the Open Graph Protocol originally developed by Facebook, to allow enterprises to add extensions for business-specific objects, such as employees, documents, offices and customers, to the Yammer Social Graph. This enables Yammer to recognize the information stream from any resource on the Internet, on company intranets or in enterprise applications. Open Graph Protocol essentially simplifies the process of linking to these resources.

The draft specification for Yammer's Enterprise Extensions to the Open Graph Protocol is available for comment on Yammer's developer Website. Yammer expects to complete the review process and finalize the Enterprise Extensions in early June.

Finally, the company announced Yammer Embed, which allows developers to embed Yammer social networking fees inside any business application. This allows employees to view and participate in Yammer discussions within their line of business applications. Yammer Embed will be compatible with any HTML or JavaScript-based business application that supports extensibility, and it will function similarly to Yammer's current Microsoft SharePoint integration.

Sacks said Yammer Embed will be available in the 2011 third quarter.

Yammer claims that it has 2 million users working in enterprises around the world, including in 83 percent of the Fortune 500. 

 


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