After acquiring Yammer in mid-2012, Microsoft has been making progress with integrating this well-known enterprise social networking technology into its stable of applications, products and services. Most importantly, Microsoft has been publicizing its plans to integrate this technology into the Office 365 environment, which includes SharePoint, this year. Integrating Yammer’s technology into Office 365 is part of the company’s current strategy to enhance social collaboration in the workplace, which should continue being a priority in 2014 and beyond. The following article should help shed some light on what’s to come with the SharePoint/Yammer partnership as we continue making our way into this New Year.

Social Features Across all Platforms

Microsoft is responsible for a wide variety of applications now, which are commonly found in business environments as well as academic, nonprofit, government and individual consumer spaces. Microsoft’s current mission includes integrating social features across all of its platforms in an effort to reflect the current state of information technology and respond to the demands of the market. This means implementing social features across Office 365, SharePoint 2013, Microsoft Dynamics and its entire line of business applications – based largely on Yammer capabilities.

Yammer’s Home in Office 365

This recently acquired enterprise social networking technology will be making its home in Office 365. Microsoft has marked out a basic roadmap for integration into the Office 365 offering, which includes the following three steps:

  1. Basic Integration: Microsoft already started Yammer’s basic integration into Office 365 in 2013, allowing customers to use its newsfeed in place of the SharePoint newsfeed, rather than trying to maintain two newsfeeds. A new application can combine all feeds for groups and sites into one integrated experience, so users on either end will feel at ease.
  2. Deeper Connections: The SharePoint team is also in the process of deepening this integration by developing a single sign-on feature, an improved user interface with seamless navigation and new Office web applications including editing and coediting features in Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
  3. Fully Connected Experience: Microsoft has plans to develop this integration process to offer a fully connected experience sometime over the next year or so. New enhancements to the social experience will be released about every three months, ultimately combining such features as business applications, collaboration, email, instant messaging, social, video and voice in new and unexpected ways. It’s an exciting time to watch what Microsoft and SharePoint are doing.

What This Means for Business Users

If your organization relies on Office 365, the SharePoint 2013 and Yammer partnership will provide marked changes in your collaborative environment in 2014, with new opportunities for workplace efficiency and idea swapping coming rapidly throughout the year. For on-premises SharePoint configurations, however, changes beyond this application will come much more slowly. There will be steady changes, though not quite as deep as some of the SharePoint updates. Yammer’s Basic and Enterprise options are currently available in all SharePoint environments, with new updates for on-premises deployments expected to be coming out soon. From the perspective of an experienced business consulting firm, these updates are exciting, but it seems that there is still much to learn.

Changes to on-premises SharePoint applications will come slowly, which will impact clients who aren’t ready for Office 365. There are questions surrounding document retention and records management, particularly in reference to how discussions will be tied to documents in an on-premises SharePoint deployment.

The team at Paragon Solutions embraces collaboration in the workplace, though, and will continue developing a better understanding of how this partnership and Microsoft’s new strategies can be leveraged to help business teams be more efficient, effective, productive and successful overall.

Microsoft SharePoint 2013: An Overview