Making decisions on current Microsoft ESN Offerings – SharePoint 2013 Social vs. Yammer, What do we choose right now?

Update March 19th 2013: Jared Spataro has released roadmap update which lays out more details for SharePoint and Yammer Socials. His response is if you have options to use both Yammer and SharePoint, Use Yammer as your Social platform.


Please note that I don’t have any inside news from Microsoft. This is what I feel based on public information available, my research on SP2013 social and Yammer features, and what Microsoft has communicated to public at SPC12

Ever since Microsoft has acquired Yammer in July 2012 (right around when they released SharePoint 2013 Beta), one of the biggest question after SPC12 were as an organization, should we choose Yammer or SharePoint 2013 social for our ESN platform? What Microsoft’s future direction for ESN offerings? What if we make bad choice choosing wrong platform?

Honestly this is big question, there is no right or wrong answer. Both Jeremy Thake and Chris Johnson has expressed their starkly different opinions and both of them are right in given situation. I have just started working on SharePoint 2013 Social Intranet project and going through similar situation where client has to evaluate whether to use SharePoint 2013 Social features or Yammer features or both.

153_1_Yammer and SharePoint Vision

Before we deep dive into why and what you should use, Simplest way I put is – It depends, Since Microsoft has acquired Yammer at the very end stage of their SharePoint 2013 product release cycle, there is no ideal integration at this moment. It is safe to say that map your social business requirements to both products and figure out what you want to use.

Here is what my guidance, philosophy, and approach I would take in current state,

  • Use SharePoint 2013 Social features for On-Premises and Use Yammer if you are already in cloud. As an Office 365 customer, Yammer Enterprise is available at no additional cost as of Nov 2012. Regardless of what you choose, Microsoft is committed to bring both products together and hopefully you will end up at the same stage.
  • If you have both products or interested in both products, situation is much trickier, plan to clearly define scenarios when to use Yammer groups, SharePoint communities, SharePoint Site feed, and SharePoint Personal news feed. There are so many overlaps in both products. If you are introducing both products in your organization, define the clear use case scenarios for both products. Plan to use OOB integration approaches like Yammer Embed or Yammer web parts for SharePoint to integrate both features. Do not try to build custom solutions to integrate both yammer and SharePoint news feeds. As I am writing this article, Microsoft is committed to release integrated Microblogging feed to integrate Yammer and SharePoint. Of course, if you are SharePoint Online customer, you may get integrated feed patch much more quickly than On-premises customers.

You may ask how you come to this conclusion. I have spent last month building Social features on SharePoint 2013 and listening all the SharePoint 2013 Social and Yammer videos delivered at SPC12. I felt like these resources provided me both current state of Microsoft social platforms and future state of where Microsoft going in ESN market space.

Let’s look at the current state,

As of February 2013, Both Yammer Enterprise and SharePoint 2013 are two different platforms. SharePoint 2013 comes with two different flavors – SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online. Yammer Enterprise is only available as SAAS model but available at no additional cost for the Office 365 and SharePoint online customers. See here for most recent pricing details.

On surface, both SharePoint 2013 On-premises and SharePoint Online are similar products and integrated same way with Yammer with separate microblogging feeds and separate identities but will soon integrated in near future. Unlike SharePoint On-premises, SharePoint Online and Yammer Enterprise will have much frequent update on integrated news feed and similar cloud federated identities down the road making SharePoint Online very compelling solution for seamless experience compared to SharePoint on-premises.

153_2_SP2013 and Yammer - Current State

As far as features, both SharePoint 2013 social and Yammer has many different features solving similar business problems. SharePoint 2013 social is focused on two different aspects of corporate social – my view and dedicated community view, Yammer’s main focus seems more like dedicated enterprise level groups, focus groups, knowledge groups, & external networks while SharePoint focusing on personal space and team level communities. Although SharePoint 2013 has unimpressive basic gamification features, Yammer doesn’t have anything in that space. It would be interesting to watch out where Microsoft goes as far as expanding gamification features in their social offering.

153_3_SP2013 and Yammer - Feature Overview

Now, let’s look at the future state,

Based on some of the talks, SPC12 sessions, SPC12 key note, and articles I have read, here is what I believe where Microsoft is going with Yammer and SharePoint.

153_4_Yammer and SharePoint Roadmap

In near term, here are the major features I am expecting to get released

  • Combined Document Management – Sky Drive Pro & Office Web Apps will provide common mechanism to host & collaborate on Yammer documents and SharePoint My Site personal documents. This will definitely allow us much more possibility for tighter Yammer integration with other Microsoft server products like SharePoint, Exchange, and LYNC.
  • Yammer Microblog Translation – In Yammer, you will able to translate Microblog entry from one language to another and post reply in another language. This is great in terms of Yammer’s philosophy – Open by default and breaking organization, team, apps, or language silos barrier. One of the awesome features I saw in SPC189 – How Yammer and SharePoint are Approaching Social session was translating microblogs on fly using SharePoint/Azure Machine translation service. This is first feature I have seen where both Yammer and SharePoint/Azure are integrated.
  • Unified Federated Identity – This is cloud only feature. At this moment, both Yammer and Office 365 have separate identity. There is no one-to-one mapping of Yammer and Office 365 user profiles and login identity for single sign on or seamless authentication across both products. Microsoft is committed to provide seamless integration of both products. Since Microsoft is packaging Yammer at no additional cost along with Office 365, this is one of the no brainer features Microsoft would implement.
  • Aggregated Microblogging Notification feed from Yammer and SharePoint – I am not exactly sure how it would look like, there are obviously three different kind of Microblogging features we have – Yammer Groups, SharePoint Site Feeds, and SharePoint Personal News Feed. Additionally, it’s easy to see these feeds will be integrated very quickly on the SharePoint online being part of Office 365 suite and cloud product.
  • Universal Publishing in Yammer – Post a message in news feed and address objects like yammer group, person, document, SharePoint team site, exchange distribution list, exchange email message, CRM opportunity, or any other Yammer objects. I believe this is going to be amazing feature to breakdown different Microsoft product silos barrier.
  • Mobility Support – Yammer already have native apps for iPhone and Android mobility platform. Microsoft has just released “SharePoint 2013 News feed” app for Windows Phone platform. Both Yammer and SharePoint 2013 social is committed to native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows mobile & devices platforms in near future.

What would be Yammer’s role in Microsoft’s ESN consumer market space?

Along with all these deep integration features between Yammer and other Microsoft server products, SPC12 Enterprise Social overview session gives us some more insight on how Microsoft envisions single social experience and use Yammer as focal point for their social platforms. Yammer has two technologies which can play key role integrating Yammer and all other Microsoft server products. Open Graph would allow users to push updates from other apps like SharePoint, CRM, and other enterprise products to Yammer feed. Adam Pisoni demonstrated at SPC12 keynote that how you can post updates regarding documents from SharePoint to the Yammer microblogging feed while documents are still hosted in SharePoint and Yammer allows employee to have social conversation about document. Yammer Embed allows organizations to embed Yammer feeds, follows, and likes in any other business apps like SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, or office.

153_5_Microsoft Social Layer

In future, here is what I believe Yammer and SharePoint Social will look like. Again, regardless of what you pick, I believe you will end up at the same stage in future. I would go even one more step further and advice to adopt both technologies if it meets your requirements. If you are adopting SharePoint Social for on-premises, only concern/question I would have is how SharePoint 2013 Social migration would work to the next wave of SharePoint or Yammer.

  • Connected Experiences – Obviously, Microsoft didn’t acquired Yammer as their SharePoint social platform. I personally feel NewsGator had better and deep SharePoint integration and have much more similar features like what SharePoint 2013 Social features are. Microsoft have envisioned Yammer as their enterprise social networking tool which would integrate with other server products like Dynamics CRM, LYNC, and Exchange to provide great platform for next generation of social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, and video platforms.
  • Dedicated or Integrated Product? – This is where Microsoft hasn’t provided any hints yet. With Yammer’s open by default & cloud only philosophy, it is interesting to see how Yammer Social & SharePoint Social would be integrated. If you ask me, I don’t think Microsoft would ever abandon On-Premises customers. Additionally, there are so many great features in SharePoint 2013 like My Sites, personal news feed, and communities which overlaps with Yammer and for given business case, both products meets business requirements. At this moment, there are clearly two path – Either Integrate Yammer Social with SharePoint as Single product or keep Yammer as dedicated product and use it as social source for other Microsoft enterprise offerings. If you ask me, I would bet for latter but time would tell. Unlike FAST (integrated/replaced with SharePoint as Search) or Pro-clarity (integrated/replace with SharePoint as PerformancePoint & SQL Server Analysis services components) products acquired by Microsoft in past, Yammer seems like continue their investment as dedicated offering and stay as Stand-Alone product like Office Web Apps and provide ESN platform for all Microsoft products like SharePoint, Office, CRM, Skype, LYNC, Exchange etc.

153_6_Yammer Connected Systems

On final note & recap, Microsoft is pushing customers to the cloud with introduction of more Yammer-like iterative, 90-day cycle of improvements focused on SharePoint Online compared to 3-year release cycle for SharePoint On-Premises. If you are already using SharePoint Online and Office 365, yammer is great platform for social networking and future identity integration and unified micro blogging feed would be ideal state. But in real world, Office 365 doesn’t meet every customer needs and if you are still require SharePoint 2013 On-premises for rich customizations & deep integration with other enterprise products, SharePoint 2013 social would be great start looking at Yammer in horizon.

That’s it on my two cents on current and future state of Microsoft ESN offerings!!!!

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4 Responses to Making decisions on current Microsoft ESN Offerings – SharePoint 2013 Social vs. Yammer, What do we choose right now?

  1. Good article. I’m personally a fan of using both Yammer and SP ESN features. Even though there is some overlap in functionality they feel like they are addressing prettymuch mutually exclusive goals.

    Yammer – Built for broadcast social networking. Larger groups, organizational units, or the entire company. It’s great at this form of social networking and SharePoint is not.

    SP Communities – Built for team social networking. Focus on smaller groups with rich collaboration. Great for team collaboration, not so much at larger groups

    Now the overlap is your personal news stream, which can make for disjointed experiences..

    • Nik Patel says:


      Awesome feedback. I agree with you. If organization can use both products and target Yammer for general enterprise level social networking would be best of both worlds.. Yammer is definitely future but it’s really unfortunate that for on-premises environments, there is no single feed and adoption can be greatly affected. If you are using both products, planning is really important. It requires detailed mapping and community segmenting to ensure employees/users have clear idea when to use Yammer and when to use SharePoint.

      Tough times ahead until Microsoft bridges gap between both products!!!!

  2. Nik, I would like to clarify the point you made above: “free part of the Office 365” please point to this page for the official answer and see the note that its for Microsoft Enterprise Agreement customers only
    With regards to roadmap stay tune for more info and yes the vision and roadmap announced at the last SharePoint Conference is the best starting point, more links here:

    • Nik Patel says:

      Good catch Christophe.. I will update my article and refer to the link you have provided.. Licensing has been changed since SPC12 keynote and I will reflect this article to ensure it’s more relevant…

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