Yammer thrives. The herd mentality around the enterprise activity stream is driving its competitors to emulate their every move. Jive’s done it. So has Salesforce.com, SocialText, Newsgator, Moxie Software and IBM Connections. From the Fortune 500 to the Fortuneless company of one, the activity stream is supplanting email for many forms of business communication.
What’s going on here?
There are several reasons for the change, but to the extent they may have a common denominator I believe the answer lies in the solutions’ ease of use. “With Yammer, people can just start using it. There’s no formal deployment process. You don’t have to install anything”, explained David Sacks, CEO of Yammer.
Across companies large and small, employees feel the social enterprise is within their reach, and they’re letting their executives know it. Why now? One reason is because the activity stream is an easy on ramp to a more social enterprise.
Take the Atomic Energy Institute in Japan: “After the earthquake in Japan, the Atomic Energy Institute was using Yammer to help coordinate the cleanup response to potential radiation leakages from the nuclear power plants there. So again, when it really counts to be able to depend on a collaboration tool, people use Yammer. And I think part of the reason why they do that is because it’s so easy to use. Sometimes the emergency happens and they’re not on Yammer but they need to quickly get on something. Yammer is the tool they can implement right away and expect everyone to understand without any formal training”, says Sacks.
Even the non-social worker is recognizing its benefits; which is the single most important trend in social business today. It is a critical reason why, to get executive buy-in, you have to show universal benefit to the organization. Not just to the social elite. Currently, it means demonstrating how the average worker is increasing sales, cutting costs and keeping existing customers happy.
Yammer Sacks the Competition
One has to appreciate an executive who both congratulates and slams its competitor in two succinct sentences. “Jive is a 10-plus-year-old company, it has a fairly traditional distribution model behind the firewall,” Sacks said. “They need this IPO to happen because they’re losing so much money.”
Similarly, Sacks launched a Friends With Benefits campaign last week at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce event. According to Arik Hasseldahl, Sacks, is highlighting the fact that Salesforce’s Chatter.com is really just a “social network inside your sales app.” In contrast, he explains, Yammer intends to be a social Switzerland for any social feed from any social business application.
So not only is Sacks not afraid to mix it up with Yammer’s competition, he’ll take the fight to his competitor’s own annual event. Shouldn’t he be worried about their response? Well no, he’s also a Salesforce.com partner. Wait, what? Yammer (the social Switzerland) now integrates with Salesforce.com and can be found here.
Where It’s Headed
Surely one of the indications that a major shift in corporate culture is about to take hold is when the herd gets behind and adopts an idea. Yammer alone has penetrated 80% of the Fortune 500. Every leader and C.E.O. should reflect on that point. The traditional enterprise top to bottom corporate communication structure is being turned upside down and there’s little executives can do about it. It’s simply too easy to launch and use.
And why stop the freight train? The enterprise activity stream will soon connect us to our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Resource systems for increased, actionable, real-time information awareness. It will continue to become smarter and more engaging and thus more valuable to employees.
Sacks explains how Yammer will provide this integration, “In order for us to convince companies that they don’t need use these systems of record or they don’t want to go through CRM tool and an ERP tool to get to their company’s Social network; we have to integrate with those systems. So you’re going to see more integration with all the Enterprise systems that are already out there. Again, we’re not trying to replace those; we’re trying to be a social layer on top of them.”
All of this is happening at a time when the social business revolution is starting to take hold in companies. These solutions are starting to empower individuals, enabling them to challenge traditional hierarchies and bypass communication road blocks. It is also enabling the knowledge worker to better communicate with suppliers, partners and remote employees.
Sacks emphasizes the point, “7-Eleven just signed up and they’re using Yammer to break down geographic boundaries. They’ve obviously got a lot of stores, with a lot of franchisees where they want much deeper collaboration and coordination. They’ve got a lot of people out in the field who work from home and Yammer brings all their corporate employees together.”
So let’s review: We are increasingly breaking down traditional corporate communication barriers with end-user, social business solutions that are easy to use and built for the average knowledge worker. The social business vendor herd has recognized the value of the enterprise activity stream and is adding it to their solutions. Yammer started the herd and contends it will continue to be its leader. David Sacks will do whatever’s necessary to defend Yammer’s leadership position.
Put it all together and you have a real social business revolution led by one of the best and boldest entrepreneurs.