Microsoft Emphasizes Teamwork in Yammer Revamp

The software maker announces new Yammer Groups features that encourage team-based collaboration.


Yammer, Microsoft's enterprise social networking platform, will soon sport new features, a polished look and notification capabilities, all aimed at improving team collaboration and productivity.

In its current state, Yammer falls a bit short in providing a platform for sharing information and working together on projects as a team, admitted Juliet Wei, senior product marketing manager for Yammer at Microsoft. By default, she noted in a company blog post, the "experience in Yammer to date has been the home feeds which were intended for broad network-wide sharing."

That will soon change, she announced. "To encourage teams to make Yammer groups their go-to destination, we're delivering a number of UI [user interface] enhancements and improving the experience inside groups," stated Wei.

Yammer's Web interface's home feed will be renamed Discovery, delivering content and updates from relevant groups and other teams. "Updates in the Discovery feed clearly identify which groups the conversations come from and give you the ability to quickly navigate to and join the groups you're not already a member of straight from the feed," Wei said.

New real-time indicators, which appear in the navigation area on the left, alert users to group activity regardless of where they venture in Yammer. A new Next Group notification, which appears near the bottom of the UI, prompts users to navigate to the next group, preventing projects or important tasks from falling through the cracks.

Overall, users will notice more polished visuals that are intended to make it easier to accomplish the task at hand. "Because Yammer groups serve as a home base for teams, we're giving them a greater sense of place and making them more engaging with a full-width header, a cleaner look to focus your attention on high impact activity and content, and a wider feed for your team conversations," Wei said.

On the mobile front, in addition to the forthcoming Yammer app for Apple Watch, the company plans to refresh the iOS and Android apps.

A new Group Updates feed establishes "a simple workflow through relevant content in your groups, so you can catch up on urgent conversations and discover what others are working on," stated Wei. The feature will make its debut on Android first, followed shortly thereafter by Apple iOS, she added.

Microsoft is working on a spate of other features, including inline at-mentioning with type-ahead autocomplete functionality and photo markup capabilities that enable users to highlight areas of an image using their touch screens. Users will also be able to attach files from external services like Dropbox and OneDrive.

Microsoft plans to roll out the new team-centric Yammer experiences by the end of the year. And next year, the company is kicking the Yammer-Office integration effort into high gear, teased Wei.

The software giant is currently "working on wrapping up the foundational identity work with Azure Active Directory, leveraging Office Graph signals for better people and group suggestions; using Office Online for multi-user coauthoring in Yammer; and hooking into the Office 365 Groups service to enable cross-workload scenarios with OneDrive, Outlook, OneNote and Skype," she revealed. "And to improve collaboration with extended team members, we'll also be delivering external groups, which lets users invite outside participants into their Yammer groups."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...