Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Implementing Enterprise Microblogging with Yammer

If you follow my tweets you know I started 'Yammer'-ing in the company I work for. I thought: Let's try this and see where it goes! So, we're just experimenting and I don't know if this will hold.
Well, I started Yammer-ing on Sept. 22. I was just curious if someone else from the company I work for was already there. And I wondered how Yammer compared to Twitter. Well, I was the first one in Yammer and very alone. ;-) Of course I asked some colleagues that Twitter to join, but their first response was: one microblog app is enough. Understandable...
For about a month I was completely alone, talking to myself regularly. But, then something strange happened. Colleagues started joining Yammer. I'm not sure how it happened (- because I was pushing them, telling them about enterprise microblogging?! -), but it happened. And now it's taking off. The swift growth has to do with the fact the colleagues fill in the 'Org Chart', which (most people don't realize this) an invite to the colleagues they fill in in the chart. Great viral touch to Yammer!
Most of the people that joined are from the Communications department, but Yammer-use has spread out to HR, IT, management, etc. A large part of the people join, but don't get right into Yammer-ing. They remain silent. (Because I started Yammer-ing, I follow all 'joiners', and if I don't know them I check our "Whoiswho" to see if they really work for Océ.)
Now, a group of about 15 colleagues is really into it. And the number is growing! Yammer has had it use already. Just by telling each other what we do and asking each other questions, we made several steps in productivity. E.g. someone Yammer-ed she was setting up a wiki somewhere. I asked her if she was using the corporate platform. She didn't know it existed and went on to use that platform. It saved her lots of valuable time! Furthermore, I've received regular calls on things I Yammer about and I call others too based on their Yammers.
For those that are reluctant to start Yammer-ing, I set up a short presentation/manual telling them why were using this tool and how to use it. I didn't want to do this up front, just to see where this would go without guidelines.
In the presentation/manual I also addressed the issue of security. Security is an issue with Yammer and all hosted applications. For good reasons we all(?) get nervous when we use them. This is strange, though. We use web-email (Gmail, Hotmail, etc) to write very private messages to friends and family and we don't worry (too much) about that. At least, I don't. My approach is: if Google would spill my mail to the web, it's over for them. The same goes for Yammer too. If they show they can't make a secure application enterprises can rely on, then it's over for them. Companies that offer hosted applications know this and work hard to live up to their customers expectations. Up until now I haven't been disappointed in the hosted apps I use.
On the other hand, I don't want to be naive either. So, I went out to do some research on this topic. For one, you can buy more security from Yammer, which is nice. (Haven't tried it yet, we're still in experiment-mode.) I went on to advise our users not to write secret stuff on Yammer. Give updates on what your working on and/or the questions you have. Be as specific as possible. When you want to tell the details of your idea, point to a blog or wiki, which is behind the firewall. So we'll see if this works and is good enough. Analyzing the Yammers I don't get the impression anyone is telling secrets and I don't think anyone from another company would understand what we're Yammer-ing about anyway... (By the way, I collected some views on Yammer and security here.)
An issue that I do have on hosted apps is: who owns the data/information? And, can I export the content to manage it internally for organizational reason (history, etc). I haven't seen the Yammer team write anything on this topic. According to my research this isn't possible yet either. I do find this should be possible.
Hope this is helpful for you all! And I'm curious how your are rolling out microblogging in your company. What I find really interesting is the fact that I'm moving communication from email to Yammer, following Luis Suarez's example. Less email, more open, social and transparent communication!
I'll write more about why I think microblogging is good for internal, company-use soon (-- although lots has been written on this topic already!).
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12 comments:

  1. Great column and glad you are enjoying Yammer. To your questions:

    Q. "who owns the data/information?"

    A. The company owns the data upon claiming its network. Until then, the users own the data. Yammer never owns the data.

    Q. "And, can I export the content to manage it internally for organizational reason (history, etc)."

    A. Yes, you can export the data via our API. In the near future, you will also be able to export to a csv file.

    Regards,

    David Sacks
    CEO, Yammer

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  2. David, Thanks for your answers! I will try the solutions you mention.

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  3. Hi David,

    We have began a small Yammer trial at Daniels. Your post as encouraged me to keep trying as right now there is just I and my Chicago IT guy, but even just for us it has been handy and we are averaging around 15-20 posts a day between us.

    The manual sounds like a great idea. Well done.

    Stu

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  5. Hi Samuel,

    Good post. I'd already seen it, but now I have a specific question:
    You talked about updating the org chart and it being a viral touch for spreading the use of Yammer. Could you explain a bit more. I didn't get exactly the relationship.
    Jane

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  6. Hey, i just started my yammer community, i´m also experiencing the talkin alone phase. i´ll be great could spare a copy of the presentatio/manual you where talkin about... send it to mejoratuentorno@hotmail.com

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  7. Thanks for your comment! Just sent you the presentation.

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  9. Hoi Samuel

    Ik heb je artikel met veel interesse gelezen. Ik werk op een basisschool en probeer ook een microblogging systeem te integreren. In mijn geval socialwok. Ik ben erg blij met je voorbeeld, want ik ondervind wat wrijving als het gaat over het delen van informatie. Ik vroeg me af of je nog meer informatie online hebt staan over hoe je dit nou allemaal hebt aangepakt.

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  10. Interesting post. We decided not to risk security of our data and spend little extra to make sure our data is safe. Although we use full featured project management software (Wrike) that include microblogging feature, not just microblogging.
    http://venturebeat.com/2010/06/02/wrike-activity-stream/

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