Is Yammer missing the mark or am I missing the point?

Today I embarked upon a mission, and that mission was to get 10 of my fellow co-workers to sign up for Yammer and then for us to give it a try. See how it held up under the smashing use of it under a corporate environment. I have a lot of bad to say, but I also have some good to say, and since everyone loves hearing what’s wrong with something lets jump right in and start there.

What’s wrong with Yammer:

  • Right now there is no ability to send personal messages. This creates several problems and the first one is that in order to send a work group sensitive message to someone I had to switch windows and utilize my boring old email. If you force people to stop using your utility and switch to an old standby soon they will just go back to the old standby.
  • No groups… what business (other than the 4-10 person startup that is) doesn’t have different work groups? Not having this feature is a quick way to alienate your larger business customers who have a need for both a public stream and a by group stream so they can monitor / be included in both. The larger a business gets the more segmented it gets and the harder it gets to carry on a conversation. It only took a minute to make a group in IM with the 6 people I wanted a discussion with (there’s that old standby again).
  • It’s noisy. With everyone posting up where they are going to lunch, asking for lunch orders, talking about their weekend, etc it gets really noisy really quickly and the public stream gets polluted with fluff. The only way to prevent that is to say it’s for work related notices only and that takes all the fun out of a utility like this. Even if you are following all the people you “need” to it can still get hard to have a conversation. I found it easier to just switch to IM when I wanted a conversation with one person (once again, forced me to switch to an old standby).
  • The monthly charge is a big downer for a large company. $1 a month per user is a killer in a large company. Can you imagine Jet Blue, Comcast, or Cisco (if they got all 66,129 employees) using it? Their monthly bill would be astronomical! Not to mention how polluted that one public stream would be, it would be useless! Why would someone pay for this when they can just install a Laconi.ca instance? Where is the feature that truly sets it apart? In my mind running it on the web vs installing an instance of something else is not truly a major benefit.
  • Basically the larger your company is (which is where Yammer could be raking in some real dough) the more irrelevant Yammer becomes. It becomes less and less an indispensable tool and more a frivolous toy.

What’s right with yammer:

  • It’s easy to sign up for, easy to use, and if you purchase the admin rights then it’s got even more functionality that has the possibility of becoming a very useful communication tool.
  • For a small business who doesn’t have a ton of people (like a small start-up, or small group of free-lance developers) it’s fantastic! It keeps everyone connected and everyone communicating even if they are out in the field somewhere. All you need is an internet connection and you are connected with your co-workers.
  • Nothing to install. If you are not technically savvy and don’t want to pay someone to install a local client then you  don’t have to. But wait, didn’t I say that WASN’T a benefit? Yeah I did, but I also put it into a relevant parameter here.
  • So long as you’re a small company it’s cheap to enjoy the full use of it.
  • It’s fun to use and while it has some very large drawbacks it makes communicating amongst your company (especially in a mass form) easier and more interactive.
  • Increases employee engagement with the company. Can you imagine if your CEO actively used something like this to check the pulse of the company than sending out a poorly worded survey once a year.
  • Has desktop, Blackberry, and iPhone apps available.

Currently I wouldn’t use Yammer in anything above a small business or start-up. The cost and confusion alone would deter most large companies. If they added direct messages (which I have confirmation they are working on, so good for them) and groups then I would say that it is pretty much the perfect communication for almost any company.

The last hurdle for most large companies would still be the cost. Can you seriously imagine Cisco paying $66,129 a month for this tool? That’s $793,548 a year! Almost a million a year for a private Twitter, that’s just not feasible for almost any company, so if they want to attract some larger companies they would need to create some more attractive pricing plans.

If you are a small company then I say do it! If you are a large company then I would advise you to just install your own client. But then maybe that’s what they are going for anyways. An economical, easy to use microblogging utility for the small guy. What’s your take? What are the pro’s and the con’s to Yammer in your mind?

Related services

Professional:

Edmondo – Microblogging for education environments

Identi.ca

I Did Work

Joint Contact

Laconi.ca

Mixin

Present.ly

Prologue

Social Cast

Recreational:

Fidj.it

FriendFeed

Jaiku

Plurk

Pownce

Seesmic – Video equivalent of Twitter

Twitter

Utterli (formerly utterz)

Did I miss any?

 

Update 2011:  As an update to this, Yammer is now quite an astounding product. They have private messaging, groups, mobile and desktop apps, and integrate with many other business  services. I’ve implemented it with clients and it’s been a great tool to boost internal productivity.

  • http://present.ly naffis

    Give http://present.ly a try. It already has groups, direct (private) messaging, and the option to install behind the firewall. Some new features coming soon to reduce the ‘noise’ as well.

  • http://www.outragedpotato.com/2008/09/trying-out-yammercom.html The Outraged Potato

    Trying Out Yammer.com

    Want a Twitter like app just for your company? Try Yammer. Its almost exactly like Twitter only you can create a community for people only in your domain…

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