Is Yammer the solution for large and medium enterprises?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Essential reading for CEOs & CIOs.

I know this post is going to be somewhat controversial, but I just want to highlight some of the truths that the media just aren’t picking up on.

Despite Microsoft’s much talked-about acquisition of Yammer, there still remains many unanswered questions regarding the model for adoption and implementation of the tool in large and medium enterprises.

Let’s look at the most controversial areas of Yammer’s business model:

 

Adoption

Any company employee can use Yammer and create a corporate account by simply using their company email address. In other words, a social network parallel to the company’s own social network or intranet can be easily created. But what happens when the company wants to regain control of this network for obvious reasons, like the value of the information contained therein, or remove access from that employee because they’ve gone to the competition? Well, simply the company has to pay Yammer to regain control of the network’s Administration. Honestly, for me that borders on the limits of ethics.

Exploitation

For the moment, Yammer only operates on the cloud, meaning it’s great for SMEs that have little or no problems in terms of competition or security, and that don’t have to comply with strict personal data protection measures required in Europe. What’s more, as a US company, Yammer must comply with the Patriot Act, meaning the government of the United States of America can access company data found on Yammer. These two points are extremely critical for European companies. In fact, the legal departments of many major corporations require that data be hosted in Europe on servers maintained by European companies to comply with data protection laws and avoid the Patriot Act.

Branding

Despite Yammer’s marketing message that the product offers a personalized experience, in fact, it does not. The Yammer brand name will always appear somewhere. It doesn’t let you change the look & feel either, or change menus, claiming it would impair user experience.

Data

My data is not really mine! This is one of the worst aspects for me. In pilot experiences we carried out to migrate Yammer data in order to replicate their information in another environment, the results have been disastrous. First, you can’t back up your data unless you pay; second, in many cases you can’t migrate files attached to conversations; and third, it is extremely difficult to recover the structure of groups and conversations because the backup pointer system is poorly programmed.

In short, easy to join (because often the company doesn’t get involved under its own initiative) and difficult to leave, even paying. The current trend is that Enterprise Social Networks are becoming powerful knowledge repositories for companies. This knowledge is one of the most valuable intangible assets in 21st century organizations, so we cannot leave it in the hands of others without ensuring even the most basic security measures.