Friday, 10 May 2013

Stop. Yammer time!

What is Yammer?

Yammer is an "enterprise social network" which was acquired by Microsoft in summer 2012 and now forms part of thier Office 365 offering. It's an internal social network for businesses - similar in audience and tone to LinkedIn, as a communications platform for professionals - but with the added security of being limited solely to members of staff.

A 'company social media network' would never take off, would it?

A few years ago I wouldn't have been convinced by the need for a company social media platform. On a personal level, the social media sphere was somewhere I interacted with friends and was ocaisionally (and hopefully not intrusively) marketed to by businesses. It definitely wasn't somewhere I would interact with senior colleagues and nor did it need to be - emails and the company intranet would suffice. Companies' awkward failed attemps to set up company Facebook groups were a thing of ridicule not lauded as a great example of internal comms.

What has changed then? Well, on a personal level I think social media has become more pervasive in our lives, and the line between social networking and professional activity has become less well defined. What used to be a flat-out ban on social media usage in the workplace has in some companies become more relaxed and in others even encouraged.

Ok, how can Yammer be used by businesses?

Yammer's website claims it is used by more than 200 companies worldwide, including Shell, Xerox, CapGemini and Westfield. Employees use it for:

  • Posting what they’re working on into the social space, to see if others they don't know are working on it too, or working towards similar goals.
  • Crowd sourcing answers to problems or issues by asking questions and posting polls
  • Sharing insights they’ve come across elsewhere to act as inspiration.
  • Share successes in the hope they make work well for others.
If you still can't quite picture this, it might help to think of a practical example. Take the Food Standards Authority - they have a central organisation with many, many field inspectors, who will need to keep in touch with central management on a regular basis. It would also be beneficial to share their experiences with other field workers. Using Yammer, they could all post any difficulties they may come across in certain areas, photographs of situations and advice on how to avoid them etc. alongside recieving updates from central office on the latest regulations.

It does sound quite useful, and also fun, but then obviously I'm quite a fan of social networks. Stop me before I start to Yammer on...(sorry!).

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