Microsoft Corp. has refreshed its enterprise social networking (ESN) application Yammer with integrations that enable new collaboration and security capabilities, an investment that not only removes barriers to entry, but suggests that Redmond’s presence in ESN is for the long haul. For the channel, this will likely mean rethinking the approach to ESN and finding new opportunities in security and other services enable social tools and give users peace of mind.
Yammer has beefed up integrations to include Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which allows ESN features such as feeds, “follow” and “like” buttons to be embedded into third-party applications.
Specifically, the Yammer updates generate a page that enables employees to discuss, follow and collaborate on the record. When a Microsoft Dynamics CRM customer makes an update, for example, pages and activities are also automatically created in Yammer, alerting colleagues to the status and allowing viewers to have access to the social content.
Yammer also updated its App Directory, which allows users to connect to popular third-party business applications within the site, to include integrations with BizData monetization platform GoodData, peer-to-peer recognition platform Kudos, Salesforce.com and social performance management platform WorkSimple.
Additionally, Yammer’s list of new integrations includes three security and compliance providers — a move addresses salient and growing issues around the security of enterprise social networks. The integrations offer added security features from on-demand identity and access management service firm Okta, software-as-a-service-based vendor Smarsh and Symantec’s Clearwell eDiscovery platform.
“Data retention and eDiscovery are critical security components for businesses that need to meet legal and business data archival requirements,” said Tim Rains, director of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft.
No doubt, enterprise social collaboration and networking is a big deal for Microsoft and many of its industry peers. Forrester predicts that, while unified communication and collaboration are anticipated to decline by 2014, the market for social enterprise apps and related services will grow at a CAGR of 61 percent to reach $6.4 billion by 2016.
The growing fervor around social networking in the enterprise is underscored by the strong growth of applications such as Salesforce’s Chatter, Cisco Systems’ WebEx and a slew of tools under IBM Connections and Jive Software. Microsoft was aiming to forge new paths in that space when it acquired Yammer in July for $1.2 billion. The acquisition mirrored many competitive applications, but was different in that it had the look and feel of something much more personable: It allowed users to create profiles that identified themselves in the organizations, archive conversations, share documents, assign tasks, track projects and receive news updates.
As such, Yammer’s security and other integrations speak to not only the growing critical mass around enterprise social networking, but to the growing security and optimization concerns associated with a collaborative environment. By easing the way for customers, Yammer’s updates and expanded integrations suggest Microsoft is dead serious about its presence in the ESN market.
Likewise, the channel will inevitably have more of a presence in this arena. Enterprise social collaboration will continue to gain traction, and as such, partners will create efficiencies and monetize data with security and compliance-related services aimed at easing the experience.
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