Office 365 Groups versus Yammer: Is Microsoft Pulling the Plug on Yammer?
By Jim Lundy
At Microsoft Ignite this year, the discussion or what I’d refer to as the lead pitch was about Office 365 Groups. Microsoft seemed to only want to talk about Office 365 Groups. There were a few sessions on Yammer, but there were far more on Office 365. The biggest question we got from attendees is “What happens to Yammer?” The answer may be that it will fade away. However, after seeing all the things that Microsoft has going on with Yammer, the answer so far is – Not really. This blog provides a short comparison between Office 365 Groups and Yammer Groups.
Office 365 – the New Flagship Offering
Office 365 is a suite of Microsoft products that used to be on-premise offerings and now are available as a SaaS offering. Office 365 Groups was announced in the fall of 2014 and at the recent Microsoft Ignite Conference – a lot of the focus was on Office 365 Groups – not on Yammer.
Office 365 Groups is Microsoft’s attempt to unify the separate apps that make up Office 365. It is managed by none other than Outlook. To create an Office 365 Group, the application you use is actually Outlook, so in reality, Mail and Calendar are the lead applications that manage the functionality of the Group.
Outlook Manages Office 365 Groups
With all the discussions, after I got back from Ignite, I fired up Office 365 and went in to create a group. To do that, I had to launch Outlook. For the purposes of this blog, my main comment is that compared to a Yammer Group, an Office 365 Group feels incomplete. Creating a Group is not hard, but once it is created, it is not intuitive what you are supposed to do with it.
Microsoft still has work to do on Office 365 Groups, since they are not part of the native navigation. In Office 365, when you launch it, there is no box for the Office 365 Groups. You have to launch Outlook and then you can see your groups. The only issue with adding a navigation box for Groups is that it also overlaps with Delve (more on that later).
Yammer is Internal and External
Yammer, a full Enterprise Social Network (reviewed in detail in our Aragon Research Globe for Social Software), makes it easy to create an Intranet for employees or to create an external network with users from outside of the enterprise.
Yammer Groups – Hit the Easy Button
Ease of use has been a hallmark feature of Yammer, since its original design point was Facebook. Yammer Groups are easy to create and administer. The Yammer Group User Interface feels familiar because so much time was focused on UX.
Creating a Yammer Group is easy and it is intuitive. Office 365 Groups will probably get better as time goes on, but right now Yammer Groups are easier to use.
However, overall, Yammer is not as integrated with native Office 365 applications as Office 365 Groups is. It probably has to do with the fact that Microsoft bought Yammer and there have been key staff departures. Overall however, Yammer Groups are easier to use and a more complete experience at this point.
Microsoft is Improving and Updating Yammer
Microsoft is making a number of improvements to Yammer at the feature level and they have focused on improving the Mobile Client experience and on making it easier to add external people to specific conversations (without having to add them to the full Yammer instance). We will cover that in our updated research. The net is that while there are improvements in Yammer, Yammer is not as integrated with other Microsoft applications, such as One Drive etc. The good news is that it is supported by Delve, Microsoft’s new Predictive Workplace Application.
Which Group to Use?
For power Outlook users (ie people that live in Email), they will probably like Office 365 Groups. You can’t use Yammer Groups if you don’t have Yammer, but for people used to a Social Network experience (with activity feeds), Yammer Groups wins the ease of use comparison. Office 365 Groups are probably better for small teams that have projects they are working on. Yammer Groups are better for sharing information and for non-email based collaboration.
It is clear that there are major differences in functionality and purpose for how Groups are used within Office 365. We will be discussing this and much more about the future workplace at IT Dev Connections/Executive Insights this September in Las Vegas. Register now and take advantage of the Early Bird discounts.