Yammer is becoming the social UX for Microsoft

Jared Spartaro, the senior director of the Microsoft Office Division, runs the Office 365 and the Sharepoint businesses, so you’d think he’d have a proprietary interest in getting people to use all of Sharepoint’s features. But he doesn’t, because Microsoft is rapidly making Sharepoint a backend document repository that supports other, more-user-friendly and social user experiences. Most critically, Yammer, which Microsoft acquired last year.
Last fall Spartaro and Yammer executives presented a three-phase plan for integration with Office 365, Sharepoint, and Yammer. Last month they announced and shipped integration with Dynamics CRM, and this week they announced their plans for integration with Office 365 in those three phases.

Basic integration. This summer they will release an updated Office 365 service that will allow users to optionally swap out the Sharepoint newsfeed for a Yammer activity stream, and they will ship updated Sharepoint software to allow integration of Yammer streams in Sharepoint.
Deeper connection. In the fall another update to Office 365 will provide single sign on and a closer integration of the user experience of the two products. For example, easier access to Yammer from Office 365 and direct access to Office 365 documents from Yammer. The image below shows a Yammer stream in Office 365, for example.

Connected experiences. In 2014 Microsoft intends to move to a 90-day refresh cycle for Office 365, and users can expect a stream of updates.

I met with Adam Pisoni, Yammer’s Chief Technology Officer, at last year’s YamJam, and during the interview he made a few observations about Yammer’s development approach, which is very agile. He suggested that one of the impacts of Yammer on Microsoft would be an adoption of Yammer development approach in other parts of Microsoft. So, reading between the lines of Spartaro’s post, I’ll make the following comments:

  • There is no sensible reason for Yammer to run as a stand-alone company if the technologies of Office 365, Sharepoint, and Yammer are going to be more closely integrated. In fact, from a user’s perspective, a tight integration with a seamless user experience is likely to provide the best customer satisfaction.
  • Yammer and Pisoni have demonstrated tremendous capabilities in agile development and have built a first-class engineering team.
  • After another year — or less — I would not be surprised to see David Sacks leave Microsoft and start something new or become a full-time investor.

My bet? A reintegration of the companies with Spartaro as general manager of a rebranded division with Office 365, Sharepoint, and Yammer (and maybe Lync and some other loose ends), and Adam Pisoni as the CTO there.
We’ll have to see, but it all would make sense.