Microsoft wants to you to live in Office 365, so they’re doing all they can to make sure you never have reason to leave. Earlier this week they announced that Yammer, Microsoft’s social networking service, will begin to be activated for all eligible Office 365 business customers without them needing to do as much as lift a finger. It will be set “on” by default and will begin to be rolled out between today and April first.
Coworkers who use Office 365 and who have a Yammer license (it’s free with most Office 365 subscriptions), will be able to chat and collaborate from within SharePoint and the Office 365 Video Portal. Delve and Skype Broadcast are expected to soon follow.
What’s the big deal about this? Aside from being able to do things like access files in OneDrive from within Yammer, turn Yammer conversations into Skype calls, create tasks and schedule meetings with Outlook calendar, most productivity workers will have little need to leave Office 365. Or at least that’s the goal.
And it comes at an especially critical moment because both team communication platforms Slack and Facebook at Work are supposed to announce Enterprise-grade editions, complete with security and administration tools, in the coming months. They are hoping that, as a result, CIOs will welcome them into the workplace.
But what Microsoft brings to the Enterprise, and that neither Slack nor Facebook can easily claim, is an established record of security and trust with the C-suite as well as other senior managers. Not just that, but while the aforementioned upstarts might be able to reach minimal requirements to qualify as potential enterprise communication/collaboration providers, Microsoft blows them away. After all its Office and SharePoint products have been tested for years and Yammer will be a tool within that product suite. Not only that, but in just this past year Redmond introduced advanced [ware] protection, advanced E-discovery and a customer lock box feature.
To put it bluntly, everyone else will have to play catch-up.
And while Slack certainly seems to be hot at the moment and Facebook at Work will likely be the shiny new thing once it is more widely available, with Yammer there will be no need to leave Office 365 if you’re already working there. The big challenge for Microsoft then will be to build enough fun and sizzle that there will be no reason to venture out of its ecosystem.