In a clash of enterprise social collaboration, Salesforce has the bigger announcement, but product doesn’t ship till the second half of 2013. Salesforce says it will be getting into the hosted community business, enabling companies to create private social networks to collaborate with remote employees, customers, and their supply chain. Companies like Jive and Telligent are well ahead of the big guy on that front, even if Saleforce says Chatter has 150,000 paying users. Yammer gets a fairly minor upgrade, with new email integration features and connections to HootSuite and a variety of other services. Salesforce also announced that its Buddy Media acquisition closed. Though that’s a social media marketing play, it has nothing much to do with these other work media or enterprise collaboration tools.
If Microsoft buys Yammer, it should focus on keeping Yammer a horizontal platform and learn how to adapt to freemium pricing rather than obsess over deeply integrating Yammer across its product lines. If it does, this could be a powerful combination in work media.
Based on a single, unnamed source, the Wall Street Journal says Microsoft is about to buy Yammer for $1.2 billion. Microsoft’s SharePoint enterprise collaboration software is notoriously difficult to deploy. The much lighter-featured Yammer – with its social UI and freemium business model, and with some integration to SharePoint, SAP, Salesforce and others – is the opposite. GigaOM Pro analyst Thomas Vander Wal notes that SharePoint implementers have discovered that SharePoint’s own social components have “too many dead ends,” but that Yammer’s conversion rate to paid customers might be too low for an IPO. And it might indicate that, while Yammer can demonstrate social utility to customers, its premium features aren’t worth it. Still, Thomas isn’t sold on the potential combo as a perfect match, and SharePoint ecosystem players (NewsGator, Telligent) might feel the resulting competitive threat more than the big social CRM wannabes.