Social collaboration has become an important need for enterprises. Most companies search for the best social networking tools to improve employee engagement, enhance collaboration and to bring a sense of community. But they struggle while choosing the tool that best fits their enterprise needs.
I have been posed this question many times by clients across the board. While there is plenty information on TechNet sites and SharePoint blogs, it is understandable why this question is still relevant. Though Microsoft is encouraging users to choose Yammer, enticing customers by telling them that they are betting big on Yammer for enterprise social and are committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products, but users and enterprise always find themselves in a fix. SharePoint Social and Yammer – which tool is right for your enterprise? Both SharePoint Social and Yammer are worthy contenders, but each has something extra that the other does not. There can be no one-size-fits-all answer. A lot, after all, still depends on what best fits a given organization and what it is trying to achieve through enterprise social networking. I will summarize some of this information and discuss a few key differentiators which could assist in making a decision.
SharePoint Social Vs Yammer = Feature Comparison
|Personalization and Portal Support||
|Direct Messaging||Skype for Business||In built chat interface|
|User Management||A user deleted from AD also gets deleted from SharePoint||A user deleted from Office 365 is deactivated in Yammer|
|Search Capabilities||News feed and other social features are searched as part of native search and with no extra configurations||Instant type ahead search is available within Yammer. Yammer has direct integration support within Office 365 and on premise|
|Follow Functionality||Follow documents, sites, people, tags and activities||Follow people, groups, announcements and tags|
|Customization||SharePoint on premise social features can be fully customized as needed with the help of API||Customization is not possible|
|Management||Requires proper configuration, governance and information management strategies||Can be managed easily as it is an ad-hoc collaboration|
|Environment Supported||Available in both SharePoint on-premise and online versions. Best suited for companies that allow only internally hosted solutions||Only online version is available so companies that have restrictions over external hosting choices will not prefer it|
||Yammer security is limited i.e. security is at only 2 levels: those who can access a network and those who can access a private group|
|Apps||Available as Windows and iOS app||Available as an app for Windows, Android and iOS devices|
|Updates||SharePoint (on premise) new social feature updates happen at a slow pace||As it is available online updates often happen on a weekly basis|
Both Yammer and SharePoint Social are user-friendly and robust systems with a lot of overlapping features. How much structure and control you are looking for is a key factor deciding in deciding what you choose.
SharePoint social provides a structured way to collaborate socially i.e. content is managed within team sites that are secure, may have workflows and forms associated with it and where the organization’s standard compliance and auditing rules apply. On the other hand, Yammer is best suited to an unstructured model of collaboration where flexibility and speed are paramount. It provides an easy way to form groups, join and contribute to social communities within the organization.
What do your users prefer - Facebook style personalized feed or Pinterest-style aggregation?
SharePoint social provides a platform such as a news feed to post information and reply to other posts where users can post to enterprise level news feed or to the news feed on team sites. It also includes Personal Sites such as Delve in SharePoint Online where data is personalized and designed to show information relevant to the user with other features like group and share documents, microblogging, edit profile, check recent documents and recent updates from other connected people as well. With Delve, users also get the capability to directly share their blog on Yammer and start conversations on it. On the other hand, Yammer serves as a hub for team collaboration and can be used for this purpose of open discussion in an open community kind of environment.
Why not both?
Some people have asked me this question. In fact at Nagarro we use both SharePoint Social and Yammer. SharePoint social features are employed mostly at the team site level and within Office 365 groups while Yammer is used as a standalone social network for knowledge sharing, company announcements, and interest-based communities.
Recommendations at the end of the day can only be based on your organization's use case:
- If your use case demands an open forum for self-organizing communities, I recommend you go with Yammer.
- If your case is limited to team level/closed group conversations with granular access control, then SharePoint social in team sites and community sites should serve your need.
Of course there is always a possiblity to blend both like we do at Nagarro when you want the best of both worlds.