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Why Would Microsoft Buy Yammer?

In case you haven’t heard, rumors are circulating that Microsoft is buying the Enterprise social networking company, Yammer.  While no one from Microsoft or Yammer has made any public comments about the deal, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that this is not a rumor and will likely be finalized shortly.  Until we see an official announcement, the question remains: Why would Microsoft buy Yammer?

Microsoft certainly isn’t as popular or “cool” as it used to be, but it is still one of the most powerful tech companies in the world.  The Microsoft product portfolio is very diverse, but some of their products are way behind in terms of what users expect out of a product today.  Companies like DropBox,, Facebook, Apple and Yammer have shown users how great technology doesn’t have to be complicated.  Microsoft Windows Phone has made some fantastic headway in this area, but Office and SharePoint still aren’t close. 

Could Yammer be the next version SharePoint?
I don’t think Yammer could be a direct replacement for SharePoint for most organizations.  However, Yammer could definitely add significant value to the overall SharePoint experience.  Yammer takes a much different, but very modern approach to document collaboration.  This would be a huge win for the SharePoint product.  On the other hand, Microsoft just recently announced their own social network which means they certainly could have built their own version of Yammer for SharePoint if they wanted. Anyone remember Groove Networks and Microsoft SharePoint Workspace?  I’m sure many organizations are using Office Communicator or Microsoft Lync 2010 today.

Could Yammer be Microsoft’s Answer to SalesForce Chatter?
Microsoft Dynamics is a beautiful product, but still not as widely used as has made some very interesting acquisitions over the past few years and also introduced some very cool features.  One of those features is Chatter.   Yammer was first to market, but Chatter wasn’t far behind.  It’s really hard to say that Chatter copied Yammer when realistically, Yammer copied Facebook.  Chatter and Yammer are identical products.  Yammer would compliment the Microsoft CRM On-line product very well.

Why Did Microsoft Buy Skype?
Microsoft bought Skype for $8.56 billion last May.  What has Microsoft done with Skype since then?  On the surface, we have seen very little change with Skype since the acquisition.  I think the only considerable change that we have seen is the Skype app for Windows Phone.  Skype is clearly a competitor to Windows Live Messenger, but yet Windows Live Messenger still has about 3 times more users than Skype. I think what would be most interesting is if Microsoft buys Yammer and just leaves it alone. 

What Does This Mean?
It is still too early to say what the future holds for Yammer.  If the deal does go through, I’m sure we’ll learn more from the announcement.  One thing is for certain, if Microsoft buys Yammer for the rumored price of $1.2 billion, it only further validates the importance and future of social collaboration in the enterprise.  Many people still question the value of social collaboration because they can’t see the ROI numbers yet.  Social collaboration is simply our next evolution of on-line communication.  We’ve gone from BBS to List Servers to Forums to Activity Streams.  On-line communication is constantly evolving.  The next 12-months are going to be very exciting for the enterprise collaboration market and DotNetNuke is ready!


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