Yammer time

One of the most talked about sessions at last weekend’s LocalGovCamp was about Yammer.

(For those who don’t know, Yammer is basically a private version of Twitter with knobs on that works within an organisation.)

Tom Phillips, who led the session, wrote it up on the group blog:

I have a firm view, echoed by some points made by others, that while many threads on Yammer start there, bloom and fade away, a lot of conversations – as is the case on social media generally – start outside, come in, for a variety of reasons/motives, grow, and then fade. Or do they fade? There is evidence in my own work world that they often actually go offline, and often become mainstream topics in “real life”, as it were.

Here’s a video of the session (it’s on YouTube in case you can’t see it below):

Yammer certainly seems popular with a growing number of local authorities. It goes to show the potential in just making it easy for people to publish stuff to their colleagues – no need for workflows or processes.

It’s also popular because it is incredibly simple to deploy and starts out being free.

Yammer is exactly the sort of application that, left to traditional implementation styles, could take years and large amounts of money to make happen in a large organisation.

Instead, with a couple of clicks, it’s up and running. No need for a programme board, a project initiation document or milestones.

It’s an example of the way technology is changing. Anyone now has the power to roll out an enterprise-grade software package, as long as they can use a mouse and a keyboard.

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Dave Briggs

I'm an experienced senior manager in digital and ICT, looking for interim engagements to modernise technology teams to help organisations transform.

5 thoughts on “Yammer time”

  1. It’s not all shiny though. Some interesting issues are raised, for example, in a sandpit where people are suddenly playing next to each other who have previously had 5 layers of management between them. Our CEX is on Yammer. It’s having some interesting effects. It looks like a success, but is it? How many posts a day should you be getting and from how many different sources before you consider it a success? Is top level buy in a success even if only 50 people or so are regular users? Has anyone warned their users that the content can be FOI’d?

    Once again, not trying to rain on parades but there are issues and I worry that in being relentlessly positive about things we’re in danger of over-selling.

    1. Hi Louise. The implications of using social tech are always more interesting than the tech itself. The point about the de facto flattening of hierarchy is a good one.

      I’m not that big a fan of Yammer itself technology-speaking, to be honest, and the most interesting thing I find about it is the way it get adopted within organisations.

      I’m personally not so fussed about the metrics and the take up. If three people use it, and get value, then it’s worthwhile, I think.

      Can Yammer be FOId? I’m no expert but the data is held by a private enterprise based in the USA. Does that make a difference?

      1. FoI will apply to information held by an organisation as I understand it. The implications of FoI are only just being considered for all types of social media, not just Yammer – for example organisations are starting to receive FoI requests via Twitter and Facebook accounts, and these need to be treated as ‘real’ requests.

        Yet another example of rules built for an earlier time meeting (and in some cases crashing into) new technologies and ways of working.

        For us Yammer is a success when it enables people to do their jobs – by getting questions asked and answered easily, or allowing information sharing between people who wouldn’t normally get a chance. And if that includes the chief getting direct contact with the rest of the organisation, then I say that is a good thing.

      2. Thanks to Ant Clay who I was speaking to about this as I have been asked about the implications of FOI’s from an information governance point of view in our Trust, it appears there is no mention of electronic or non-electronic information – all information is subject to FOI.

        Raises an interesting question though – if Yammer are based in the US, has anyone checked that they’re voluntarily accepting adherence to British Data Protection Act requirements – the equivalent of which doesn’t exist in the States?

        Sorry. Dry. Boring. Challenging. But these questions need to be considered and need to be asked.

  2. My limited understanding of FOI is that it’s about information the organisation holds, which is zero in the case with Twitter, Yammer etc. Yammer wouldn’t have to comply with our rules, because we’d never have to request it of them in the first place.

    DPA does apply, but to our use of Yammer et al (what we post on it), not to their operation of the service.

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