Ever since Microsoft had acquired Yammer just before SharePoint 2013 release in July 2012, there has been love and hate relationship with Yammer as Enterprise Social solution in organizations adopting Microsoft technologies. Let’s face it, there are many reasons for this. Enterprise social is no longer a shiny kid in the industry, and there are still growing concerns sharing information freely in the major monolithic organizations. Besides Microsoft has also thrown lots of hurdles by sending mixed messages and taking forever to realize their vision.
Despite all these, here we are, after Ignite 2016 in Oct 2016. It’s impressive to see Yammer is not only still going strong but becoming a core service of the Office 365 suite, just like Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype. After taking painfully slow time of 3-4 years to move Yammer into Microsoft cloud infrastructure including Office 365 identities, Yammer has positioned itself as core Digital Workspace tool by integrating itself with One Drive for Business, Delve, Office 365 Video and other essential services.
Ever since Microsoft announced Office 365 Groups as future of collaboration platform last year at Ignite 2015, many experts predicted Yammer being going away (including myself) and probably replaced by Office 365 Groups. But, this year at Ignite 2016, Yammer further strengthened its position as workplace collaboration tool with announcements of Yammer’s integration with Office 365 Groups. Many ways this completes Yammer’s journey from standalone service to the core family of Office 365.
Based on the Yammer investments announced at Microsoft Ignite 2016, it is clear that Microsoft doesn’t think Yammer as only Enterprise Social Platform. With its tight integration with other Office 365 services including Office365 Groups, its proper part of core Digital Workspace offering of Microsoft. Documents, conversations, notes, messaging was always part of Yammer offering. Rather than managing and enhancing these features as fractional silos, Office 365 integration will be able to offer stronger offerings like Skype, One Note, and SharePoint for Yammer features. Yammer is indeed becoming a core feature of Digital Workspace vision.
Here is the list of some of the key Ignite 2016 announcements, innovations, and upcoming features planned for Yammer. This indeed makes Yammer as a core service of the Office 365 suite, just like Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype.
- Great way to stay up to date – unread conversations counters, a message to show once you caught up with new information, workflow to move to next group.
- You can edit posts (coming soon, probably by early next year)
- You can create word, excel, and PowerPoint documents directly from Yammer
- Mark individual or all messages as read/unread in your inbox, shows activities across all groups.
- Member and Group onboarding feature, group discovery feature is powered by Office 365 Graph
- Office 365 Integration with Delve, Skype Meeting Broadcast, and Office 365 Video
Office 365 Groups Integration and Roadmap
- Creating Yammer group will create AAD object, Office 365 groups including memberships, and trigger requests to create additional Office 365 workloads like SPO, OD4B, EXO, and Planner. It means – every Yammer group will have SharePoint team site, SharePoint document library, OneNote and Planner for Yammer task management.
- Office 365 groups will have both Outlook and Yammer. You have the option to choose email and shared inbox in Outlook or Yammer messages for your group. Initially, creation location will determine default communication method used in Office 365 groups. e.g. Groups created in Outlook will get an email in the shared inbox, Groups set up in Yammer will get the Yammer group feed, and Groups are created from the Office 365 Admin Portal and other Office 365 workloads will get an Outlook shared inbox. In future, Microsoft will provide flexibility to use either Outlook or Yammer feed regardless of where you creation location.
- Yammer Group (just like any other Office 365 users or Office 365 Groups) will be available on global address list (Office 365 groups are AAD objects) while sharing files or sending emails. This would allow you to send email from Outlook to Yammer feed as post using Yammer Group global address.
- OneDrive file picker – You can share files from OneDrive business to Yammer conversations (that includes all your files in Office 365 groups and SharePoint folders) – Yammer files will be moved to OneDrive for Business to in future, start moving your files to SharePoint manually if you want.
- Yammer notes will be transferred to word documents in SharePoint document libraries. Also – You will have shared team OneNote for Yammer notes.
- Additional features on the roadmap – Shared Outlook team calendar, Skype directly to user from Yammer feed or conversations, rich preview of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business files in the Yammer feed, Planner tasks or SharePoint document modifications updates in Yammer feed, Support for rich preview of Office 365 video and stream videos in Yammer feed, SharePoint web part, Office 365 profile integration.
- Office365 Groups connected Yammer Groups – You either get outlook or Yammer feed, not both. You won’t see Outlook in Yammer, and you won’t see Yammer feed in Outlook (as of now, it may change over the time with feedback).
- If you have Yammer right now and using legacy Yammer credentials, you won’t have Office 365 connected Yammer groups. You can either manually choose to enforce Office 365 identities from Yammer admin center, or Microsoft will roll out a new update as wave 1 (by the end of Q4 2016) to enforce all the network to use Office 365 identities. Once Yammer has Office 365 enforced identities, new Office 365 connected Yammer groups can be provisioned by end users or admins. Microsoft will also backfill all existing public and private groups to become connected Yammer groups in wave 2.
- It is important to note that as of now, Microsoft’s roadmap includes Yammer groups will be connected to Office 365 groups. You won’t have options to choose classic Yammer group vs. Yammer-Office 365 connected groups. Yammer classic groups are going away once Yammer.com is turned off.
Administration Innovations available as of now
- On-by-default – Yammers on by default for all new Office 365 tenants. Yammer is completed moved to the Microsoft Azure data centers. It’s in the process of moving entirely to the Office 365 cloud infrastructure. Encryption at rest and encryption in transit are configured for data security.
- Network/Domain Lifecycle Management – Yammer network domains can be managed from Office 365 administration page. Yammer no longer requires Yammer DSync for on-premises AD sync. It supports AAD Sync. Yammer SSO and Yammer Dsync will stop working on December 1st, 2016.
- Users, Groups, and Identity Lifecycle Management – Office 365 admin center also includes Yammer Groups (Office 365 Groups) and manageability of group membership. Managing Yammer groups would be same as any other Office 365 groups.
- License Management – You can also enable/disable Yammer license from Office 365 administration page.
- Office 365 SSO and Login Support – Connected Tenants and User Profile Sync – Yammer is in App Launcher by default for all new tenants. If you have users on both yammer.com & Office 365, you can also enforce Office 365 identities in Yammer from Admin settings. You can also enforce all the classic Yammer users to use Office 365 identities from Yammer administration section. Yammer admin console is available from Office 365 administration center.
- Advanced C-Compliance – Yammer has achieved category C-level compliance in Office 365 suite with ISO 27001, ISO27018, HIPPA, SOX, EUMC and other major compliance categories. It means Yammer is covered by Office 365 Trust (and information protection) center where you can access all third party compliance materials from Office 365 service assurance dashboard. It is important to note that other services like SharePoint Online and Exchange Online are in category D with the highest compliance. It is also important to note that there is no announcements and timeline of Yammer feed availability in an e-discovery center.
- Mobile App Security – Yammer will be included Intune mobile device management policies. Mobile App Security would work with or without MAM. Supported on both iOS and Android apps. It will support more than 15 policies once it’s applied to your tenant including requiring PIN to access, manage data sharing across apps, restrict copy and paste between apps, encrypt app data, prevent save as, and block running on jailbroken devices, etc.
Administration Innovations Coming Soon and Roadmap
- Yammer Audit Reports – There are more than 25+ yammer operations are available for audit activities. Also – Yammer will be integrated with Office 365 Management Activity API.
- Yammer Usage Analytics and Power BI Reports – Yammer activities are included in usage reporting dashboard in admin center – both network & user levels – posts, likes and reads. Available for global admins only as of now. This can be exported for community managers or champions and visualize using Power BI content pack. There are also plans to deliver usage reports for group level and client access (the web vs. mobile) reports.
- AAD Conditional Access and Dynamic groups will be supported – You can create Yammer groups with membership based on rules. e.g. create the group for anyone who reports to Kristian. This would work as long as this hierarchy is defined and managed in AAD. Dynamic group membership is based on AAD properties and may require additional licensing or AAD Premium
- Yammer Connected Groups membership – You can’t assign AAD group, but you can assign group membership based on AAD properties (dynamic membership)
- Naming collisions – AAD supports the same name but enforces uniqueness in an email. Multiple Outlook groups can be with same named, but Yammer enforces unique name due to discovery. You can end up with 1 Yammer group name but many office 365 groups with the same name.
- Groups naming conventions, soft delete (life cycle) and customization of all company groups (e.g. change avatar or name, etc.) are on roadmap too. Since both Yammer connected groups and Office 365 groups would be managed as the same entity, all the innovations in Office 365 life cycle and governance would apply to Yammer connected groups as well.
- Mapping of existing SharePoint sites to either Outlook or Yammer groups not in a roadmap but something can be looked at.
- Migrating Outlook groups to Yammer groups and vice a verse is not in scope. e.g. if your users start with Outlook group and change mind to have Yammer group, it’s not possible due to various content requires a mapping from message to social.
Here are key Yammer slides from Ignite 2016 to showcase Microsoft’s current philosophy, few investments done last year, and future investments.
- BRK2014 – Connect Your Company with Yammer – A Vision and Roadmap Update
- BRK2017 – Get a 365 Overview of Yammer Usage, Administration, and Security
- BRK2019 – Work smarter with Yammer and Office 365 Groups