Jared Spataro, senior director of Microsoft's Office division, is constantly fielding the same question. IT execs and managers want to know -- some rather demandingly -- what direction Microsoft is taking in the wake of its massive acquisition of social enterprise pioneer Yammer in June for $1 billion.
Can organizations keep their current, tried-and-true newsfeeds from products like SharePoint or will everything become Yammer-ized? In an interview with Enterprise Apps Today, Spataro said that customers are looking for guidance. "It's unclear if we just get to pick one," was a popular sentiment, he said.
Today clarity has arrived in the form of a roadmap that ought to help IT managers plan their Office and Sharepoint deployments in the coming months and years.
This summer, an Office 365 update will offer customers the option to replace their current newsfeed with Yammer. In a SharePoint Blog post, Spataro outlined what the update has in store for customers.
"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, creating a connection between groups and sites that will deliver the best of both worlds," wrote Spataro.
Hybrid Social and SharePoint
The update will enable SharePoint on-premise customers to take a "hybrid deployment" approach to adopting enterprise social. "The most important data may be stored on-prem and the conversations you're having will be on the cloud," said Spataro,
And SharePoint newsfeed enthusiasts needn't worry. It remains "the default social experience in Office 365." The aim is "offering people a choice at this point" said Spataro while giving users a more integrated experience.
He added that it resolves issues among the many users that were "already using Yammer but didn't interact [with their Office/SharePoint environment] in any way." This "basic integration" is a big step toward resolving that for organizations.
Things should really start to gain momentum this fall, when another Office 365 update establishes "deeper connections," teased Spataro.
"Customers will still have the option of choosing between Yammer and the SharePoint newsfeed, but this 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, Yammer will appear immediately below with the navigation to get back to Office 365 services such as Outlook and Sites," blogged Spataro.
Users should also notice that Yammer and Office 365 will start to look, feel and function like members of the same product family. Additionally, Yammer will gain Office Web App integration for document editing and management capabilities.