With Microsoft buying Yammer for $1.2 billion, Microsoft promises it will push the business collaboration/social networking platform into more of its cloud-based services. That means corporate IT pros will have to deal more with Yammer in their day-to-day jobs. To help prepare for that, here are some key questions and answers they need to consider.
What do Microsoft and Yammer say about their product plans?
Microsoft's Office division president Kurt DelBene: "Over time, I see opportunity for exciting new scenarios by adding Yammer's stand-alone service alongside and integrated into our collaboration offerings with SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics and Skype. I picture people being able to use Yammer to manage and expand their professional relationships, share and collaborate on Office documents, stay informed about content updates, and to seamlessly move from status updates and feeds into voice and video conversations."
Yammer CEO David Sacks: "This transaction is going to bring Microsoft's reach, distribution resources, expertise to help scale Yammer to the next level. Today's announcement is great for Yammer customers because they will continue to enjoy the same Yammer service that they've experienced to date with its focus on rapid innovation, simplicity, but at the same time we're going to look at opportunities to integrate with other Microsoft products. You're going to see more and more connections with Microsoft products like Office 365, SharePoint, Dynamics and Skype."
What Microsoft platforms will Yammer integrate with?
Yammer already offers SharePoint, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM integration, and both companies seem to promise they will expand that and add integration with Skype.
When will we see this integration?
Given that the companies already accomplished some integration before the buyout, further tightening their platforms could already be underway.
What does this mean for security?
Microsoft views Yammer's business collaboration/social networking software as a way to continue moving its core products to the cloud as it has already started to do with Office 365. IT pros have to practice ongoing diligence about compliance and security when business is done in a public cloud environment. They also need to set clear policies on what can and cannot be entrusted to the cloud.
Can't IT just say no?
Yes, but Microsoft is hoping that because Yammer has a free version, workers will start using it on the job, unsanctioned by IT. In announcing the acquisition, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seemed fascinated by Yammer's "freemium" business model where customers get the basic product for free and once they see the benefits are willing to pay for more features. They can sell products through the front door by convincing decision-makers that there is a need for them. But if Microsoft creates demand for the products from within, the sale is made for them.
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