One of the biggest misconceptions with both customers and even our own internal users about Yammer is that Yammer, in its current form, is supposed to be the end-all/be-all for enterprise social, and we should either accept it or get out of the way.

The truth is that if that were the case there honestly wouldn’t be a whole lot to talk about in these blog postings and anyone who has any sort of vested interest in Yammer and it’s future would be in a lot of trouble, but fortunately there is and will continue to be a lot more to the story.

The Yammer that you see today looks and smells a bit like Facebook. Believe me when I say this is probably intentional. You want users to have an experience that closely matches something else that they are already getting value out of, so that user adoption can get a good jump start on the process. And for all intents and purposes Yammer right now in most organizations is going to be just that: Facebook for your own internal network.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of value in just that alone (i.e. most of my Facebook friends don’t really care that SP1 for SharePoint 2013 was released, but my coworkers do) but it also does create some challenges that users do have to overcome initially. Here are the top three that I hear most often when talking with users:

  1. Yammer is a standalone web application – “Oh great. Yet ANOTHER social media site that I have to log onto to see what’s going on. Every day I already go to our company’s intranet, then Facebook, then Twitter…”
  2. Yammer isn’t integrated with anything –“Why am I uploading documents into Yammer if I’m already emailing them out and uploading them to SharePoint?”
  3. Yammer does a lot of things SharePoint social already does – “I have to follow two newsfeeds now, one for SharePoint and one for Yammer…”

Here’s the good news

Microsoft didn’t invest in Yammer to have it sit on the sidelines as a side application. We have repeatedly heard that Yammer is going to be the primary driver for social across all of the Microsoft on-premise and Office 365 applications, including SharePoint, Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.

To see what I mean, check out this video with Jeremy Chapman and Christophe Fiessinger, the enterprise social lead for Microsoft.

Once you’ve gotten over Christophe’s EPIC mustache and beard, it should be pretty apparent where Microsoft is going with this.

Yammer is no longer going to be a standalone application, as it will be accessible from all of the applications you use. More importantly it’s the common tie that keeps the conversation together. You’ll start a conversation in Outlook, continue it Word, and check back on it later in SharePoint.

Yammer will be integrated with EVERYTHING. The groups that you create in Yammer will be able to be leveraged across the board, from determining security on a document to communicating via email and Lync.

Lastly, and we are reading between the lines a little bit on this, but there’ll soon be no more confusion between Yammer and SharePoint social, mainly in that we expect Yammer to eventually replace SharePoint social entirely, sooner if not later.

And so keep in mind that these are pretty beta in terms of features so they may be rolling out more ideas in the future. Stay tuned and keep yammering!

Justin Ong is a SharePoint/Office 365/Yammer evangelist for Catapult Systems. Follow him on Twitter at @justinong1