Streamlining communications and making it easier to find information are fairly obvious use cases for social software in the enterprise. So it's not surprising that recent product announcements from companies like Jive Software and eXo Software focus on helping companies add social features to their corporate intranets.
Yammer, a provider of enterprise social networks that is adding a flurry of new features to its software, seems more focused on replacing rather than supplementing intranets.
In its announcement of the new features, Yammer included a statement from an Aragon Research report that reads, in part: “Enterprise social networks are replacing corporate intranets as the most comprehensive and reliable places to find information about the company, its processes and procedures, and the people who work there. It may take a few weeks or months for users to understand the potential of an ESN, but once they realize how much a social community can enhance sharing and collaboration, they often begin to see the corporate intranet as stagnant and outdated. At that point, the process of replacing the intranet with the ESN has begun.”
The most significant update is a universal search feature that utilizes Yammer’s Activity Stream API to make it easier to search for content from Yammer’s integration partners including Salesforce.com, SAP and Microsoft SharePoint.
When users select a third-party record in search, the chosen system opens in a separate Yammer tab. Thanks to the API's security features, only employees authorized to view a record can find it. Search results are categorized into people, groups, files, Pages, topics and applications, and files, Pages and conversations are full-text searchable.
Microsoft Dynamics is the latest application to integrate with Yammer. A plug-in enables users to follow relevant accounts, campaigns and opportunities from Microsoft's CRM application without exiting Yammer. Results from Dynamics also will appear in Yammer's search engine.
Yammer also increased file storage limits for its Premium Groups team workspace product and added new admin controls, such as the ability to change group privacy settings and mark content as read-only.
While Premium Groups are available to all existing customers, groups in free networks must pay $79 a month to upgrade. According to Yammer, this new service option gives teams and departments the ability to upgrade their Yammer group without paying for the whole company.
Yammer added two new content sharing features, a Share button that allows conversations, files and pages to be cross-posted from one group to another or to start a private message about a file, page or conversation, and an Email File button that enables employees to email third-parties such as customers and partners a secure, one-time URL to view a file or Page.
New integration tools include Yammer Embed, a tool previously only in private beta that allows users to add a Yammer feed widget inside any business application by copying-and-pasting a piece of code. Only logged-in users can view the embedded feeds.
Yammer appears to be scaling up to make a run on the enterprise following an $85 million financing round in February. The company already spent some of the cash to buy OneDrum, a Scottish provider of file-sharing and collaboration tools. Yammer will employ OneDrum's technology to offer functionality akin to the better-known Dropbox.
Members of Yammer groups will be able to readily share content, including Microsoft Office files, and work together on them.