Enterprise social roadmap for Microsoft: Yammer and SharePoint 2013

NOTE: A lot has happened since this was posted in Jan 2013, please check out my latest post on The Future of Social Collaboration


So the cat is out of the bag thanks to Jared Spataro, Senior Director of the Microsoft Office Division. If you’ve followed my thoughts on Yammer vs SharePoint in the past, you would know that I was very critical of the “current state” of SharePoint 2013 and Yammer and also my comparison post. We made a decision at AvePoint to stick with SharePoint 2013 for “social” rather than look at the integration with Yammer which I explain here. After reading the direction that Jared had spelt out, I’m still happy with our decision as we are on-premises with SharePoint much like a lot of Enterprise customers rather than Office 365 SharePoint Online. I will say that we are seeing a lot more questions around O365 since January with the release of 2013 wave on February 27th. It was great that they included some information around on-premises too at the same time rather than delaying answering.

It’s awesome that Microsoft have come up with updated roadmaps that have plans for “Summer” and “Fall” (for non US people that’s June/July and September/October timeframe I think Winking smile). The first is what they were previously calling “Tomorrow” and the second was the “Future” from the slide shown at SPC12 that I mention in my previous blog posts.

Concerns around the releases are as follows:

Summer release

The off switch essentially is just a change in the hyperlink to Yammer Network homepage, but it won’t turn off other things that drive the SharePoint Newsfeed that won’t be there anymore…

  • the “Follow” site concept that would have appeared in the SharePoint Newsfeed when activity occurred is gone
    • the only benefit of “follow” button would be the “Sites” listing where it shows the site as I’m assuming activity won’t show in Yammer
  • following someone in the SharePoint About Me page or search results for a user is now irrelevant
  • following a document also now irrelevant
  • mentioning users in Community discussions will send emails still but won’t see it in newsfeed again will cause confusion (something heavily used at AvePoint to draw attention to discussions)
  • following a hash tag is now nearly irrelevant as you can’t see the newsfeed, although you can get to the hash tag profile I’m guessing, so discourages in Community discussions
  • SharePoint mobile apps will continue to work although only visible in mobile apps
  • liking in blog posts and community discussions are now irrelevant unless you are on the post as no notifications

I would hope that the “off switch” does more than swap out the hyperlink and hides the things above and disables it.

Other issues I see are (some of which will be fixed in the fall):

  • no single sign on so authenticating twice
  • hash tags created in SharePoint won’t sync with Yammer ones
  • you need to manage two profiles
  • two different user interfaces
  • SharePoint communities vs. Yammer Groups

Fall release

For the Fall release I would hope that all these functions mentioned above are replaced by Yammer alternatives but they are not clear on this from the mockup or description. Maybe they assume this will be done but I’d rather they spell that out. The screen shot does definitely encourage me in terms of the two user interfaces feeling the same and also highlights “trending files” that I’m going to assume the follow is already taken into consideration. Also looks like federated search there with that search text box rather than just throwing the “we’ve got a social graph you can leverage”.

One pondering question is, what will win out of Yammer Groups and SharePoint Communities? will SharePoint communities get any improvements or will Microsoft “kill” them by showing them no attention.

2014 releases

I love the direction that Microsoft are going in knitting together their entire stack of e-mail, IM, voice, video and LOB’s…it will be a enterprise social platform to SERIOUSLY dominate. The transition process right now is just a bump that needs to be rode over.

Wrap up

I respect that the acquisition happened in July 2012 and they’ve had a lot to do to get to this point with the coordination to two very different platforms with two very different development approaches. Working for a software company I appreciate things are not as easy as they seem on the surface. Congrats to all involved in getting this far and to those that I’ve talked to more closely (you know who you are) based on my posts that have caused some controversy in the market.

I look forward to seeing the Fall changes and metrics on who actually does “turn it off” in SharePoint 2013. Although Jared’s answer is “Go Yammer!”…I would hazard a guess that people will chose to wait for Fall release to see whether these things have been “fixed” rather than jumping on the Summer quick fix.


7 thoughts on “Enterprise social roadmap for Microsoft: Yammer and SharePoint 2013”

  1. I would add one more item to the issues list: Having SSO does not address the issue of syncing permissions between SharePoint and Yammer. Let’s say you have a team site and a private Yammer group. When you add someone to the team site you’ll need to remember to open the private Yammer group and manually add the person to that group. If you forget you’ll get an error on the embedded Yammer feed on your SharePoint site.

  2. Very good point, Jeremy. The direction is very good – create one platform for social activities. But I agree with you that the concept as it stands is not thought through if it should “replace the SharePoint newsfeed”.
    What about SharePoint communities / Yammer Groups? What about SharePoint Tags & Notes and its non-existent social integration? What about Team Newsfeeds – will they be Yammer groups?

    It really doesn’t make it easier for customers understanding where SharePoint Social will go. Will they have to maintain yet another system? What about corporate identity / design? Will customers have to wait for the SharePoint 2013 fall release to create a full social strategy?

    Hoping that MS will clarify these points soon, right now SharePoint customers (and potential SP2013 customers) are confused.

  3. Thanks for the quick scoop and in-depth analysis, Jeremy. I’ve tried to go a little deeper on the implications for on-premise SharePoint deployments– which are clearly not critical path in the cloud vision– in my own post over at Perficient.


    Jared’s announcement confirms there’s still room for them, but I think it’s going to take some more integration, third-party products like NewsGator, and elbow grease to achieve the vision on prem.

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