We might all get to know this when we will start working in a company: circular e-mails, group discussions in meetings and appointment settings. But: How effective do firms handle with all this stuff? It is not easy to achieve active participation of every employee especially not if the firm size is relatively big. The solution to those organizational problems might be a relatively new network platform called Yammer.
What is Yammer?
The online platform itself provides the following descriptions of its work on its website:
Yammer empowers employees to collaborate easily, make smarter decisions faster, and become more productive.(…) That’s why you’ll see immediate results and a significant return on your investment.
Using Yammer generally provides all employees of a company with information about “What are we actually working on?”. To register at Yammer, employees just need their company-related e-mail adress (e.g. xy@companyA.com) and therefore are directly invited to the platform of their company.
Yammer is operating since 2008 and is used by 200.000 companies, e.g. eBay and Ford Motor with 4 million users. The startup from San Francisco was founded by David Sacks, former Chief Operating Officer of Paypal. Yammer gots 140 million US Dollar of finance through investors like Charles River Ventures and Emerge Capital Partners. Now, Microsoft is planning to buy Yammer for 1 billion US dollar.
Yammer’s key features
In the following, I just introduce to you some of the functions that Yammer provides. Most of the features are similar or nearly identical to some of Facebook’s functions as well as Google+ and Twitter.
- Enterprise microblogging: Start a conversation, create a poll, or ask a question. View and reply to posts from colleagues across the organization.
- Notifications: Instantly be notified with important messages that may require action.
- Company directory: Find and connect with employees in other departments. Use directory sync to auto-populate information
- Private messaging: Create a private dialogue with one or multiple colleagues; add additional participants at any time.
- Communities: Work with partners who are outside of a company network with protected communities.
- Access Anywhere: Easily connect to the Yammer network via web browser, desktop client, or mobile device.
(Source: “The total economic impact ™ of Yammer” by Michel S. Bishop)
What’s good about it?
The functionality and impact of Yammer has been observed by numerous case studies. One of them is “The Total Economic Impact™ Of Yammer” by Michelle S. Bishop from 2011. The company Yammer itself tasked a consulting agency to analyze the total economic impact as well as the potential return on investment that is possible to achieve by using Yammer.
This is the result of what the consultant agency conducted:
- Visible collaboration and communication leading to project cost savings from deduplication of work and reorganization of processes.
- Improved employee productivity for engaged Yammer users due to information-sharing and better access to expertise.
- Higher employee engagement resulting in a faster onboarding for new employees.
- Improving vertical communication between company leadership and employees.
- Providing a public venue for and record of conversations.
- Reinforcement of success drivers.
Several people have said that one week on Yammer has taught them more about the organization than the years
they’ve spent here.
(Consultant — enterprise content management department, IT services firm)
Moreover, another project thesis by Susanne Plaumann makes reference to the advantages of Yammer: There are high adoption rates of Yammer among employees as it has nearly the same functions as Facebok, thus it seems familiar. Moreover, it provides no connection to those other private networks which keeps the employees privatesphere private.
In a comment to a blog post about this business network, somebody says that Yammer enables you to get a daily summary of the activities in the network via mail. Due to her, this is perfect if you have been absent for vacation or if you were ill.
What are its drawbacks?
The report of the consultant agency (mentioned above) shows the “impact risk” of Yammer. This describes the risk that the investment in Yammer is higher than the technology need of the company which would result in lower total benefits.
In a comment, I found somebody saying that Yammer needs to be supported by the executive suite to really introduce it properly. Otherwise, people would ignore the network or start spamming.
In another blog post, somebody critizises its privatesphere. As Yammer is based on an American Server some American agencies might have access to it and he thinks that the legal protection of the privatesphere is on a very low level. Therefore, data circulating in Yammer would not be save.
Moreover, somebody else claims that Yammer also provides problems due to its similarity with other social networks: Unimportant stuff like information about the recent breakups or personal problems might bury what is important.
There is no virtual water cooler in Yammer, meaning all the idle chit-chat is happening in your virtual cubicle
Furthermore, some people say that it discourages one-on-one communication and is therefore rather anti-social.
In my opinion, the profitability of Yammer depends on the company’s organizational structure, its size and its internal relations. Therefore, I think that you cannot evaluate its efficiency in general. In theory, I think that the idea behind Yammer sounds practical to me.