Microsoft Readies Yammer Updates to Make Workforces More Responsive

Yammer teases new mobile and collaboration features that make it easier for users to act on the collective wisdom of their colleagues.

Yammer kicked off on Oct. 15 a one-day event in San Francisco called the Working Social Tour to preview some of the new innovations that the software maker, a part of Microsoft since it was acquired in 2012 for $1.2 billion, is baking into its enterprise social networking platform. In a sign that Yammer's reach is spreading at Microsoft, the event, formerly Yammer on Tour, was co-hosted by Office 365, SharePoint and Dynamics.

Pavan Tapadia, Yammer's chief product officer, told eWEEK during a phone interview that future integration efforts include more seamless collaboration and information-sharing experiences that leverage Office Web Apps. Providing a smoother, more unified and nondisruptive approach to working with Office documents from within Yammer is part of the company's goal of "helping teams work better together," one of three themes that guided the latest round of updates.

Expected to roll out during the next month, the updates are also meant to further dissolve the technical barriers between users and help them take action quicker with optimized, mobile-enabled workflows. Taken altogether, these approaches support Yammer's vision of "trying to make companies more responsive."

To help bring email users more easily into Yammer conversations, Tapadia reported that his team "added a bunch of features to use Yammer and email together." The new email interoperability features allow non-Yammer users to participate in group discussions, wherein a Yammer group works like a distribution list.

Under the new system, it is now possible to "@mention" an email user. "Each post will be delivered to their email inbox," informed Tapadia. Yammer has also made enhancements to email forwarding and the way it handles email history, including an option to append the whole email chain as an attachment.

In a bid to further topple barriers between users, Yammer has new, more flexible private group options. Whereas invites to private groups were an all-or-nothing affair in the past, the new features allow Yammer users of public groups to be brought into specific conversations taking place in a private group in which they are not enrolled.

In terms of helping users take action faster, Yammer is "leading a little more with mobile," said Tapadia. This includes a completely redesigned new iPad app that places more of an emphasis on unread conversations to surface pressing or trending conversations and quickly get users up to speed. The Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps get enhanced notifications, Live Tiles and a revised inbox. For users of Google's popular mobile OS, he reported that Yammer on that platform will "feel like a native Android app."

This mobile-first approach toward workflows is also influencing the Yammer Web user experience. The aim, ultimately, is to "serve up the right stuff to you at the right time" and leverage the social graph to promote in-context activities to not only foster greater user engagement, but sustain that engagement over the long term.

Describing learning, adaptability and responsiveness as the "new competitive advantage," Yammer is hoping to set the stage for business processes wherein "everybody in your company is a knowledge worker," asserted Tapadia.

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...