Microsoft and Yammer: One year in

The following is a post from David Sacks, Corporate Vice President, Yammer.

One year ago today, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Yammer. In just 12 months, we have made tremendous progress in accelerating the adoption of enterprise social, driving innovation within the Yammer service and beginning to integrate with Office 365. Today, we are providing additional visibility into our product plans through an enterprise social roadmap update and by highlighting significant momentum over the last year, including:

  • Users have grown by 55 percent to approximately 8 million registered seats.
  • User activity (as measured by messages, groups and files) has roughly doubled year over year.
  • Paid networks have grown over 200 percent year over year.

These numbers build on our February 20 announcement regarding sales and customer momentum, showing the continued growth and adoption of enterprise social. This level of adoption is particularly impressive for a service that is just 5 years old.

Looking back

It’s instructive to look back at how we got here. As a new venture, Yammer stood for two propositions, or bets about the future, that are still completely relevant today.

First, that social networking would enter the workplace as a tool for employee communication. Until that point, social networking was viewed entirely as a consumer product used primarily by college kids and other early adopters. But it was growing at such a pace that if one projected forward a few years, it was likely that almost everyone would be using it. Once that happened, we believed, people would demand this style of open, transparent communication not just in their personal lives, but at work as well. The resulting increase in openness and transparency would transform the way businesses operate, making them more nimble and competitive. Although this transformation might initially seem daunting to some, companies would eventually see the benefit and even competitive necessity. That provided a business opportunity. Thus, a new category of business software, Enterprise Social Networking, was born.

Our second belief was that we could make enterprise software viral. If the point of Enterprise Social Networking was to give employees a voice, why shouldn’t that start with a greater voice in the software they used? Yammer allowed any employee to sign up, start using the product for free, and spread it to their coworkers. Once the employees had proved the value of the product, the company could pay to claim its network and buy advanced features and services. We believed this “try before you buy” approach was desirable not just for employees, but also for company decision-makers, who could ensure that software purchases would actually be used, instead of becoming “shelfware.” Because we depended directly on end users to spread our product, we had to make sure they loved using it. And so, along with virality, Yammer brought a larger approach to UI design, usability, testing and rapid releases adapted from the world of consumer internet. Today this movement is known as the Consumerization of IT.

Yammer and Microsoft

A year ago, Microsoft presented us with an amazing opportunity to accelerate our business in the areas of both product and distribution, and today we are seeing those benefits come to fruition.

Product integration – For social to be maximally successful in the workplace, it has to be a part of the applications people use every day to get work done. As part of Microsoft, we now have the opportunity to integrate social features into the most widely used business software products and platforms in Office, Dynamics and Lync and Skype. At the SharePoint Conference in November, we disclosed a focus on foundational integration work in three areas – identity, content and messaging – that will lead to greater connected experiences between products. Much of this work will manifest in user-facing features over the next 12 months, but significant progress has been made, including the recently announced ability to replace the Office 365 newsfeed with Yammer.

Aligning for scale – Although virality got us in the door at a large number of enterprises, Microsoft’s reach and trusted relationships makes it much easier to formalize customer relationships and make the premium Yammer experience more widely available. Microsoft’s global sales force of nearly 40,000 sellers is an amazing resource to help make Enterprise Social Networking mainstream. In March, we added Yammer to Office 365 and SharePoint Online enterprise agreements. As of July 1, Yammer sales will be fully aligned with the Microsoft global sales model, meaning a truly global sales team that can provide customers with the combined value of Office 365 and Yammer.

There has been tremendous synergy between the Yammer and Office 365 development teams, so much so that there is an established Yammer North team in Redmond. The teams have continued to deliver rapid innovation within Yammer, including real-time message translation leveraging Microsoft Translator, enhancements to Inbox, Online Now and platform upgrades, and continued cross-platform mobile development on Windows, iOS and Android.

Looking ahead

We founded Yammer on the belief that Enterprise Social Networking is the next major communications revolution that will transform how companies work. We also recognized that consumerization in the enterprise was changing the enterprise buyer and, as users began selecting their own tools, business software would need to be developed differently to compete for user adoption.

A key reason for the success of this acquisition is alignment on our vision to make enterprise social the cornerstone of workplace collaboration by weaving it into the applications people use every day. Another is our continued ability to build the service through a rapid, iterative approach based on how people are actually using the product. This helps drive the kind of voluntary user adoption and affinity that is needed in the new world of consumerization.

As we look ahead, I’m more confident than ever that not only was the acquisition the right move for both Yammer and Microsoft, but that our combined vision is the right one – that enterprise social is how people will work, and that we have the expertise, portfolio, capabilities, vision and insight to make that future real.

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