Yammer on Tour (London baby!)

Last week I was lucky enough to snag an invitation to the Yammer on Tour event in London. The event held at the Old Billingsgate market was an opportunity to see some of the features of Yammer and hear from organisations that were using Yammer successfully. Because it was so well attended it was also a good opportunity to network with individuals successfully working with the tool.

The event started with the opportunity to see Yammer being demonstrated by Yammer employees. The demonstrations also included companies who Yammer work with closely including Badgeville, Spigit and Engage. I stopped at the Badgeville stand and had a quick tour of their product, which you wont be surprised to learn uses gamification techniques to encourage adoption and engagement within enterprises. I have to admit the product looked pretty cool and I can see why so many companies are using it to drive engagement.

Shortly after this attendees were called into the main auditorium and the event began with a keynote from Adam Pisoni. However before that keynote attendees were shown a video called "Yammer: Transforming the way we work" I've embedded this below for you all to enjoy. As you can see a lot of the video talks about how Yammer can help with disruption. For example if you move office, gain an office, gain new employees etc. Yammer helps organisations be more agile in these circumstances putting information at employees fingertips and giving them a voice and a place where they can ask questions and post comments on what's happening in their individual workplace.

After this video Adam Pisoni talked passionately about how Yammer had grown in the last year and highlighted some of the companies key milestones during 2012. Following Adam several individuals talked about the opportunities Yammer provided organisations and individuals. Rather then list them all here you can have a look at the Yammer on Tour storify this presents some of the key tweets and images from the event, including a Tweet from me (fame at last) Of these I thought the Microsoft saying that they thought Yammer was their best acquisition was very interesting. Of course Yammer is about providing a channel in which employees can communicate more openly and the tweets reflect this.

Yammer developments

Of most interest to a lot of individuals was the developments Yammer has planned and the audience was lucky enough to see some of these. The first of these new developments is a Windows 8 application, whilst I don't have a Windows 8 phone I have to see the application looks pretty good. Especially with the touch an pinch functionality users expect and a redesigned feed and navigation menu.

The next new feature was a translate button. My feeling is that a lot of organisations will be very excited about this as it allows users to translate posts into their native language. So if you have a Japanese office your Japanese users can post in Japanese and staff in your London office can translate these posts. From what Yammer was saying it sounds like it will support the automatic translation of 39 different languages.

The final new development (and this wont come as any surprise) was tighter integration with Microsoft Office documents. What this means in practice is that if you double-click on a Microsoft Office document that has been uploaded, Yammer will open a live version of the document. From here you can make edits in real-time which when saved will display on Yammer. A conversation to accompany any changes to the document is also generated by Yammer. This looks like really useful functionality and I'm sure will be of interest to any company that uploads documents to Yammer and wants to encourage individuals to continue collaborating on them.

There then followed a series of breakout sessions which looked at how Yammer could be used in various situations. I attended the session which included presentations by Caroline Thorpe of Gatwick Airport and Lexis Nexis. One of the other sessions was "Driving results with Enterprise social". This session included a speaker from Engage, one of the companies that was demonstrating alongside Yammer on the day, you can read more about this session on the Engage Group website.

As to whether I thought the afternoon was useful, most definitely and I'll leave you with this key takeaway, which I think will resonate with a lot of individuals:

"In order for it (Yammer) to be successful you need champions an leaders, it has to fit with the culture of the company and you should underestimate the time to change. From this original tweet.