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June 26, 2012

Microsoft buys Yammer – expert reaction

Industry experts on Microsoft's high profile acquisition of enterprise social networking company Yammer.

By Allan Swann

Gartner, Guy Creese

"Microsoft has been very successful with SharePoint – but it’s a very different animal from Yammer. At this point, enterprises buy three levels of collaboration tools: 1. production (e.g. Documentum, Open Text), 2. purposeful (e.g., Lotus Notes, SharePoint), and 3. ad hoc (e.g., Box, Yammer). If Microsoft buys Yammer and puts it within the SharePoint division, over time it runs the risk that it will make Yammer more SharePoint-like – and thereby eventually dull the features that make it complementary to SharePoint.

"Ideally, Microsoft should create a Collaboration division that contains both SharePoint and Yammer – in other words, make the product divisions subordinate to a way of working. However, Microsoft has been organized into product divisions for years, so I doubt that will come to pass."

Ovum, Richard Edwards

"Many employees at the junior (and now senior) end of the workforce live aspects of their personal lives through Facebook and Twitter, so the idea of introducing similar kinds of tools into the workplace seems to make sense from a communication and collaboration point of view. It’s not just Microsoft eyeing-up the opportunities afforded by the Facebook-led social paradigm shift. Established enterprise IT vendors, such as IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAP, are all busy adding social capabilities to their business software solutions.

"Microsoft already has a product that touts social capabilities – SharePoint Server, but this was designed and built in the pre-Facebook, pre-cloud era. Launched in 2008, Yammer is a new breed of enterprise collaboration solution, designed from the ground-up to exploit social, mobile, and cloud technologies, and would sit neatly alongside Skype, the communication product that Microsoft acquired this time last year for $8.5billion.Organizations investing strategically in ESN software are likely to have products from Jive Software and Telligent on their shortlists, but Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer will undoubtedly mean that this offering gets added to that list too.

Cloudsense MD, Richard Britton

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"The acquisition of Yammer is validation that social business delivers efficient and effective ways of communicating digitally – something that companies have been looking to achieve for a long time and which has its origins in consumer platforms now being picked up by businesses. This is a reversal of the business app filtering down to consumers. The democracy of the Internet has allowed this trend and it is gathering pace.

"Traditional software vendors like Microsoft were not the innovators in this space but they have realised that social collaboration is maturing and delivering business benefits. With the capital that they can deploy in the sector, expect to see increasing levels of integration into enterprise applications and in this case the Microsoft stack. Business social networks can be the glue that binds a company – the trick for Microsoft will be opening up its wider application suite to "Yammer" with the humans."

Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell

"Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer is not just further validation that the enterprise collaboration space is hot, it’s evidence that the technology goliath is now playing catch up. Only now has Microsoft recognised that the combination of enterprise content management and social collaboration is the future of enterprise technology.

"By acquiring Yammer, Microsoft is trying to plug the gaps in its lagging social strategy. Yes, SharePoint is meant to be social but it was built 11 years ago for content storage, not collaboration, locks information in silos and fails to support the new ways of working. It’s antiquated software that is now struggling in the face of innovative competitors. Huddle – bringing together content, social and mobile to unlock the true potential of anywhere, anytime working – is leading the pack rather than following."

Moxie Software CEO Tom Kelly

"Microsoft’s move towards embracing easy-to-deploy and socially-connected solutions will signal to other organisations that this is not a temporary IT trend, but a permanent change to the way companies operate internally, and ultimately to how they interact with their customers."

Bluewolf’s EMEA General Manager, Sue Goble

"This is an interesting development in the market especially regarding the larger, more established vendors looking at these types of acquisitions. We are seeing a growing trend for integrating social elements into more traditional, enterprise-based services such as CRM and collaboration suites.

"The socialisation of the enterprise and workplace is encouraging employees to share data in new ways, improve customer insight, and collaborate like never before. This new approach to working is very exciting and shows how many organisations are beginning to go social."

Rob Koplowitz, Forrester

"This is not an Instagram moment. The value and potential of Yammer in the enterprise software market is clear. David and team have been working very hard for a long time to build a viable enterprise business. They were recently named a leader in Forrester’s Activities Streams Wave. They have one million paying enterprise customers and another four million freemium users in the wings. It’s a real business and it’s been a real pain in the backside to some larger and better established competitors. In the case of Microsoft, a much larger and much better established competitor.

"Microsoft has been slow to the game in enterprise social. Their primary delivery mechanism, SharePoint, is a very big product with a traditionally long delivery cycle. When you upgrade your enterprise social story every 3-4 years, you’re going to be constantly behind in a market segment that is rewarded for being forward thinking. Hence, they’ve not been a thought leader. So, if you have gobs and gobs of cash, what do you do? Buy an undeniable thought leader. And Yammer is that.

"So, on the surface it makes sense. The Yammer crew gets rich and avoids the hassle of an IPO (and Facebook has certainly made the terms social and IPO about as attractive as peanut butter and cauliflower for the moment). Microsoft gets way cool in enterprise social really fast. Everyone wins."

 

 

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