A CFO’s Perspective on Social Business: Examining Yammer

by April Downing 30 Dec 2009 Blog Post

Social Apps are “in” the Business – Try Yammer on for size

So many of my former co-workers and associates have said “I just don’t get this ‘social’ thing. It seems like a real drag on productivity within a business and I can’t see how businesses can use it to increase productivity or business value.”

The belief that social tools allowed into the workplace decreases productivity is a major barrier to businesses adopting a “leaning-forward” posture towards what is largely already prevalent. There are over 900,000 blog posts, 5 million Tweets (messages sent via Twitter), and 45 million Facebook updates EACH DAY! Who do you think is doing this and do you think it’s only when they aren’t at work? Social tools are becoming woven into everyday life. My 12 year old son is a perfect example – he uses Facebook, Twitter, texting and email interchangeably to communicate with his peers – and even his teachers. True that you don’t want workers on an assembly line texting away or have your newest star employee updating their Linked-in with a Tweet about how drunk they were the night before… but, you do need to accept that there are new communication platforms that are blurring the lines between work and personal and that many of these tools can actually be harnessed to drive incremental value to the business. So starts the journey of what some of these tools are…

One of the easiest tools to adopt and see benefit from in my opinion is Yammer (ok, since it’s already being used by 50,000 businesses, this may be a known tool for many of you). Think of Yammer as instant messaging for a large audience – an audience that is defined and managed. Yammer can be deployed for a particular team within a business or for the whole business and doesn’t require IT to deploy it. At Dachis Group, we use Yammer to communicate directly with one another but in an open forum so others can see what’s going on. It is amazing how much this tool has cut down on email traffic and how much more efficient the interchange of information and ideas becomes. Few examples:

  • Our CEO is traveling out to visit a customer and Yammers @particular person [for true neophytes to the social app language, you type @name in messages when it's being directed at that person, understanding that others can see the message as well] that he will meet him at the customer. Another employee sees that the CEO’s travel is taking him close to a prospect and Yammers back @CEO to see if he has time to meet with the potential customer as well.
  • The Controller is billing out expenses for a customer and Yammers at a couple folks known to be working on the project however, the message is seen by two others who also had some time and expenses with that customer. The email solution to this would have been an almost blanket email to the practice group or a series of fowards through the team.
  • An employee gets an unexpected call from a customer that is questioning the status of an issue they are having. While on the phone, the employee can Yammer out for any immediate feedback to use on the call with the customer. This also alerts other employees about issues/resolutions they may have seen to offer up.

With just these three examples, you can see how you can increase efficiency, collaboration, and results from this open tool. Yammer also allows for private messaging between employees should they not want their entries to be seem by everyone.

I do believe in a cohesive and well orchestrated approach to weaving social tools into the fabric of how business is done – some thought-leading businesses already see the value and are embracing the positive changes. Others are out there, like many of my friends, just trying to understand what this shift means. This entry highlighted but one of a hundred examples of what is out there…

  • http://www.twitter.com/stevendeblois Steven de Blois

    Plenty of good points here. Agree, there is a strong opportunity for large organizations to leverage Yammer’s functionality and easy-to-use platform for internal collaboration.

    I may be going out on a limb here….but think Yammer will fade into the sunset unless it shifts away from current B2C model and adopts a B2B model. A white label solution is the key to success – organizations would flock to Yammer knowing their data is secure and risk sits on a partner’s back.

  • Martijn Linssen

    Thanks April! And welcome. Finally a sound-minded person inhere ;-)

    There will be old people and old arguments held against Social just like any other new idea. I sometimes tease people, stating Social networks are just like the old BBS (http://bit.ly/Jpr9V) and 30+ years old. Or that Cloud is nothing else but Timesharing (http://bit.ly/5INmlD) and 40+ years old

    Your argument does pretty much the same: Yammer contains Social within your enterprise’s boundaries and places a new idea in your own comfort zone. If you really worry and are not-too-sure-about-social (…) you can just watch all your employees within the Yammer pit, and see what that leads to. It’s like hybrid or private cloud to Cloud: safely getting the hang of it

    Currently, Capgemini has just crossed the 5,000 active user boundary on Yammer – I can recommend it for any shy enterprise

  • http://www.richandco.com Elmer Rich

    It is likely that growth in this decade willbe very hard to come by and competition even more acute. Anything that either creates friction in communications or does not eliminate friction as it pops up, will be a severe drag on financial processes.

    Very risky as well.

    We don’t preach social media any more, especially Twitter. We hope it’s ignored by competitors.

  • Pingback: All Things IC | Who’s using what for internal social media?

  • Pingback: All Things IC | It’s Yammer time…