Social SharePoint and Yammer: Microsoft Roadmap Revealed

Since the acquisition there have been a few key messages as it relates to the roadmap.  None have been as clear and in black and white as this one posted yesterday.  Let me pull out a few select quotes from the SharePoint team blog post on the Yammer and SharePoint: Enterprise Social Update and add a little commentary to make it even easier to understand how MS is positioning SharePoint 2013 Social and Yammer.

This blog post comes out as recent Forrester report released in February calling out Microsoft “SharePoint Enters Its Awkward Teenage Years."  Much of the report was mixed, but specifically did point to needs in providing more guidance on cloud, social and mobile.

“Microsoft is struggling to transition SharePoint to address Cloud, Social, and Mobile. Cloud delivery, social business features, and mobile access are the next features that Microsoft must add to SharePoint to ensure its relevance.” 

I totally agree that getting cloud and social right and fully addressing mobile is really key to the future of enterprise and now is a pivotal moment.

Here are the key messages to internalize.  Some of these messages are buried and I am happy to add some commentary.

1. Social CRM in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is driven by Yammer – At Convergence, a Microsoft Dynamics conference, MS revealed the latest update of integration between CRM and Yammer during the keynote.  View more on the Social CRM update or watch a movie that shows Yammer and MS CRM together.

Joel: The investment in Social CRM are the beginning of what you’ll see across many products.  I encourage you to check out the investments… you’ll see more.

2. Office 365 Summer Release: Yammer App in the SharePoint Marketplace and link update to replace newsfeed. “Many customers are worried about confusing their users with two different feeds, and this update will allow them to simply replace the "Newsfeed" link on the Office 365 global navigation bar with a link to Yammer.com. We’ll also ship a Yammer app in the SharePoint Store so that end users can easily embed a Yammer group feed into a SharePoint site”

Joel: The newsfeed is the part that’s the most confusing.  Swapping out the link to Newsfeed seems like a trivial thing to do.  This is good insight as what MS decides to do first in 365.  The SSO will help.  Wouldn’t it be even better if the Newfeed page remained and simply integrated yammer in the short term?  In this case I’ll answer the question and say, newsfeed is an area they want to simplify for users and make it one or the other.

Note while the summer release is for Office 365, there will be guidance released for on premise. “So as part of the summer update, we’ll also provide guidance for replacing the SharePoint newsfeed on-premises with Yammer.”

3. Office 365 Fall Release: Newsfeed convergence. Yammer navigation looks like Office 365 and is seamless experience including single sign on between Office365 and Yammer.  “new, integrated Yammer experience will offer Single Sign-On (SSO) and seamless navigation. In other words, when you click on the Yammer link in the Office 365 global navigation bar, …with the navigation to get back to Office 365 services such as Outlook and Sites.”

Joel: Single Sign On in this case means being able to use your same identity as Office 365 and be logged into Yammer.  The updates to navigation is that narrow little bar in SharePoint 2013 that lists outlook contacts newsfeed, etc…  Seeing Yammer and Office 365 taking some steps toward consistency is a good thing for users.

4. 90 Day Updates to Office 365 Start with Yammer – “As we move into 2014, we’ll continue updating Office 365 with new social enhancements roughly every 90 days.”  Note: This 90 day schedule does not apply to On Premise deployments, but many of the yammer enhancements will benefit your Yammer experience.

Joel: This doesn’t mean patches.  This means you’ll get features lit up along the way.

5. Go Yammer if you have a choice – If you’re trying to decide between SharePoint 2013 social and yammer, the recommendations from the product team is yammer.  This is the strongest message from the post.  They acknowledge that many won’t be considering yammer as a multi tenant cloud service, but they explain that Microsoft is all in.

“Yammer is our big bet for enterprise social, and we’re committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products.  It will power the social experiences in SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics, and more.”

“Yammer will provide the latest innovations and best user experience”

Joel: Strong messages here.  On premise customers that haven’t purchased Yammer, should not worry about the strength of this message as it relates to the 2013 release.  It should be a bit of a wake up call as it relates to the roadmap of social.  Microsoft is very serious about where they are going and does NOT want to have customers be surprised when they find that Office365 + Social = Yammer while there may be a choice as soon as this summer.

If you haven’t seen yammer in action please go to http://yammer.com/spyam and request an invite to join the 2500+ SharePoint folks.  You’ll also be able to join us in an upcoming #SPYAMJAM currently planned for Apr 9 to discuss Microsoft’s social strategy.  More detail to come on this event!  

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