Social Media Tools: Yammer

Since the Focus Group session in December I have been looking into a social networking site called Yammer. Yammer is an enterprise social network, originally a small start up but now owned by Microsoft, which purports to improve communications across organisations. As I’m sure anyone who works in HE is aware, Universities aren’t the best organisations for internal communications and talking to people across established “silos” such as faculties can be difficult. One of the issues I’m coming up against time and again with this project is getting hold of information about what business-facing activities are going on above and beyond my current knowledge so I thought looking at a social media tool for internal communications might have the potential to be very helpful indeed.

So since January I’ve joined the Coventry University Yammer network and posted a few times about my project with a rather limited response, certainly less than I’ve had from similar emails. The problem appears to be that not many people at the University are on Yammer and those who are don’t use it… I then attended “Yammer on Tour” in London a few weeks ago which is Yammer’s annual roadshow, where they talk about product developments over the past year as well as give you the opportunity to hear from companies who are currently using Yammer. It was a really interesting event and a lot bigger than I expected, perhaps unsurprising with Yammer’s new Microsoft connections.

I think Yammer has huge potential, particularly for large and unwieldy organisations like ours, and I love the idea of social networking being used to improve communications within an organisation and to help people collaborate. The link between Yammer and Microsoft, particularly the integration of Yammer with products such as Office and Sharepoint also helps me see how it might eventually become an integral part of how all organisations communicate. I also found the case studies from organisations who have implemented a large scale adoption of Yammer such as LexisNexis, Gatwick Airport and Insead Business School very inspirational.

Unfortunately implementing a Coventry University-wide Yammer network and driving uptake of it by staff is way outside the remit of this project. Luckily both our HR and Marketing teams are already tentatively interested so it may be something that starts to happen anyway but it’s not something I can achieve by July with relatively limited resources. I would like to see it happen however and will push for Yammer adoption as one of the routes to making the work of this project sustainable.