Microsoft, Yammer Deal Turns Enterprise Social Media Partners Into Rivals

Enterprise social media vendors who partner with Microsoft have been transformed into market rivals now that Microsoft is acquiring Yammer. One industry analyst says the market dynamic for the erstwhile social media partners "changes dramatically" after the deal closes.

Enterprise social media partners who saw Microsoft as a natural ally and partner in their efforts to get their services running inside corporate offices must reassess their positions now that Microsoft is acquiring Yammer, says Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research analyst.

One example is Neudesic Pulse, an enterprise social media service that partners with Microsoft to integrate its platform with Microsoft products like SharePoint, Lync and Dynamics. For now, Neudesic Pulse is confident it will continue to grow in the social market even as Microsoft takes over Yammer. But Koplowitz sees Microsoft-Yammer having a significant impact on the partner ecosystem in enterprise social networking.

€œIt€™s never good for the 800-pound gorilla to make a move like this,€ said Koplowitz. €œIf I€™m a competitor, who do I align with outside of Microsoft because I can€™t think of that as a primary alliance any longer?€

Koplowitz wrote a report in May (weeks before the $1.2 billion Yammer acquisition was announced June 25) comparing five companies in the enterprise social media space that have the strongest positions in the market, including Yammer and Neudesic. He narrowed his focus to firms that primarily build internal social networks for just corporate employees and perhaps business partners, but not consumers in the general public.

What the five companies all have in common is that they are developing social media technology that has the potential to become an industry standard, would support a range of enterprise applications and would be widely deployed across an enterprise rather than in specific business service areas like customer relationship management (CRM). In other words, it€™d be a fundamental application standard like email is a standard.

His analysis leaves out enterprise social media targeted at a specific area. A number of recent acquisitions by industry heavyweights have involved social media marketing, social media CRM, or social media and procurement.

The five services Koplowitz profiled are Yammer;€™s Chatter; SocialCast, a 2011 acquisition by VMware; tibbr, the social media service of Tibco Software, which is nearly a $1 billion company; and Neudesic Pulse.

Neudesic is distinguished in the group for being the only privately held company in the bunch now that Yammer is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, said Ramin Vosough, vice president for products at Neudesic, adding that it was built without venture capital funding and has been profitable for each of the last 10 years.