Microsoft® appears to be using its Yammer business to equip SharePoint Online, Office 365, with ‘cloud only’ features. Does this point to collaboration as a very hot topic for enterprise business? Or is this move simply another example of engineers building ‘a solution without a problem’?
On June 3, 2014, Christophe Fiessinger, a Group Product Manager on Microsoft’s enterprise social team published a post titled Yammer brings conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files. This post introduced a new product called “document conversations”, which will only be available to businesses subscribing to Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud SaaS offer.
“Document conversations” look like a method to add comments to a work in progress (a document, spreadsheet, presentation, etc). This capability is, of course, now ubiquitous, and a familiar feature of not only each of the components of Microsoft’s Office suite, but also other authoring products, for example, Adobe Acrobat Professional, or InDesign, or even each of the components of Google Apps. But ‘document conversations’ expands the range of options for teams to collaborate. The feature is built on a “Yammer pane”, which is juxtaposed next to the work space, and can be used to directly solicit opinions from team members, or to present questions about the topic of the document-creation project. This “Yammer pane” can also appear next to an image included in a document, or even some external content.
Is Microsoft onto something here? Are enterprise business CIOs losing sleep over concerns about the extent to which personnel are collaborating (or, perhaps it would be better to say NOT collaborating) on organization-wide tasks, or even departmental objectives?
I am not prepared to answer this question, but I can confirm the components of the debut of this feature, meaning a set of capabilities exclusively offered to cloud SaaS subscribers only, is likely to be repeated, going forward, as Microsoft (and its competitors) ramp up efforts to persuade enterprise business to hasten the pace at which they are adopting cloud, SaaS offers.
ISVs have a lot to gain should enterprise business speed up this process. As their product marketing objectives become clearer (and I think the ascendance of Satya Nadella to the role of CEO at Microsoft, along with the introduction of the now familiar ‘mobile first, cloud first’ mantra is a good example of one of these businesses gaining clarity on just where it wants to go on this topic), then enterprise business prospects will likely witness a lot more of these efforts.
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