Among Email and Microsoft Teams, Yammer Still Has Its Place

January 11, 2017

The original article is published on the Microsoft Tech Community Yammer Blog.

Cai Kjaer wrote a piece, Connecting the enterprise — one tool breaks the rule. It’s a great read and I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it. One of the most compelling pieces from Cai’s article is Tom Allen’s “50m Rule” which states that the majority of a person’s interactions happen with people within 50 meters of them. When Cai analyzed interaction patterns of people on email and chat, he found that those methods conformed to the 50m rule. Yammer, however, was the one platform that truly allowed for cross functional, cross organization connections to be had regardless of distance.

Managing the Flow of Technology, MIT Press, 1977

Cai’s evidence, backed by data, is one of the reasons why I’ve always believed Yammer to be THE most transformative workload within Office 365. People generally know how to email (Exchange), people generally know how to instant message and have meetings with one another (Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams), and saving documents in the cloud is almost a necessary convenience these days (OneDrive).

But what some organizations are still trying to unlock is the power of the network that lies in wait. As Cai describes in his article, tools like email and team chat are great for connecting people you already know. They’ll help make existing teams stronger. But email and chat do little to break you out of your bubble of who you already know.

I often make the comparison to tools in my personal life. Just because I have email and text messaging/instant messaging in my personal life, doesn’t mean there isn’t a place in the middle for Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter. The latter being the places I go to discover, connect, and learn across my network. While email and direct messaging apps are necessary in my personal life, relying only on those would prevent me from breaking out of those silos and making new connections.

This is why Yammer will continue to have a place in many organizations. When teams, groups, and communities of interest use Yammer consistently, it becomes a vibrant place where people share knowledge about their work. Where people learn from someone they didn’t know before. We’ve seen that when people are comfortable with sharing their work in open and transparent ways, like Yammer allows, organizations see real business transformation. Knowledge and information is allowed to flow freely from team to team in a way that email and chat don’t accommodate. I love this comment, left on Cai’s article, from Xiomara Harris.

Yet we see evidence of our ESN shifting the mindset — one post, one group, one connection at a time. Beautiful to see.

As you consider which tools to introduce to your employees, consider challenging your existing notions of how people should work today. Consider recent trends focused on more open physical workspaces meant to encourage greater openness and collaboration. Consider how important open networks are in our personal lives and how they allow for us to make new connections and learn new information. Think about the transformative potential Yammer has to help your teams work more openly and make connections they might not have otherwise made.

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