What Microsoft’s Purchase of Yammer Means for Small Businesses

By now, most small businesses have heard of Sharepoint, but many still aren’t sure how to make it work on a smaller scale. Yammer, on the other hand, offers an enterprise social networking model that, when combined with Sharepoint’s file-sharing capabilities, may provide just the solution small businesses need.

Launched in 2008, Yammer provides private social networking in the enterprise environment. In the years since its inception, Yammer has added an unprecedented number of new users–four million in its first three years. More than 200,000 companies worldwide use Yammer, according to its website, and 80% of all Fortune 500 companies use the service.

However, a business doesn’t have to have hundreds of thousands of employees to use Yammer. In fact, Heyworks Unity Studio switched to Yammer when the company of 15 workers grew tired of Skype’s many notifications. The company posted seven reasons small businesses should use Yammer, some of which included the ability to easily collaborate on documents within the software, set up groups, and create polls.

Small businesses like Heyworks Unity Studio find that Yammer is useful for getting to know co-workers on a personal basis, as well. You may find you have a personal interest in common with someone you’ve worked alongside for years. This kind of in-house social networking also helps new employees get to know everyone more quickly.

Will Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer create a collaboration between Sharepoint? After all, both services allow multiple users to collaborate on documents. Yammer simply extends that collaboration to social networking. Enterprise portal eXo doesn’t think it will be quite that easy.

“Yammer may enable Microsoft to offer a freemium social service, but it’s going to have a hard time cost-effectively attaching SharePoint to that service because Yammer is multi-tenant and SharePoint is not,” Benjamin Mestrallet, founder and CEO of eXo, says. “They’ll sort out the integration eventually, but probably not quickly.”

eXo creates social networking and collaboration spaces for businesses. Because its solution is tailored to the end user, eXo often appeals to smaller businesses, who might not have a need for Sharepoint’s many features. Sharepoint can be pricy for smaller businesses, with the per-user license fee making it a less cost effective solution. By choosing a solution that can be customized to your individual needs, you might be able to create the same workspace for less.

Still, the Yammer-Sharepoint merge may provide more for your small business’s buck, making it a more ideal solution. Yammer is quick to stress on its website that the collaboration means Yammer customers will have the same service, with gradual integration of other Microsoft collaboration tools.

“Over time, you’ll see more and more connections to SharePoint, Office365, Dynamics and Skype,” Yammer promises. “With Microsoft’s backing, our aim is to massively accelerate our vision to change the way work gets done through software that is built for the enterprise and loved by users.”

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

  • Shadeed_Eleazer

    Thanks for the informative article Stephanie. Yammer has tremendous networking and info sharing benefits for small businesses. I will share your article with my network.