Clean up the mess made in SharePoint by your users. Do It Now
by Jasper Oosterveld
Jasper Oosterveld

Communicate with colleagues using Social on Office 365 with any device

Let’s go a bit back in time

I find it interesting to use the word Social in a world where people are becoming less social in the personal interaction with each other. I really recommend watching the movie ‘Her’ from Spike Jonze. A brilliant movie that gives us an amazing look at the technology and Social future that’s ahead of us.

Nowadays almost everyone, maybe apart from my parents’ generation, is communication through Apps on smart phones and/or Social sites such as Facebook or Twitter. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because I also use this way of communicating. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a good evolution in communicating but unfortunately that’s the world we live in. Communication needs to be fast and quick! How did we get here? Let’s take a quick look at the background of Social.

The Social phenomenon started with Myspace but really took off with Facebook in 2004. First aimed at the public market (mostly students) it got picked up by businesses in 2007 with the introduction of business pages. At this moment a business was able to virtually connect with their customers or potential customers. Around this time Twitter also took off as did LinkedIn. These Social networks didn’t stay unnoticed by businesses and they expected up-to-date Social features in SharePoint. I won’t go into details about the development of Social in SharePoint but it’s quite clear that Yammer is becoming the Social platform for SharePoint and Office 365. Although SharePoint Online 2013 comes with new and improved Social features, Microsoft didn’t acquire Yammer, for 1.2 billion dollars, without a reason. In my opinion Yammer is here to stay and SharePoint Social is going to go.

Windows Phone 8

I really start to like the Office 365 Apps for the Windows Phone 8. Especially navigating through the menu works very smoothly. This isn’t any different for the Yammer App. The App starts with the my feed:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

Hopefully you notice the clean design and neutral colors. You can immediately start a chat with your colleagues by clicking on the + symbol:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration SocialOffice 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

The App allows you to add a picture but not documents. That’s very strange because this is a Windows device and I can work with documents on the phone. Hopefully this feature is addded in a future update. The next screen displays my inbox:

Office 365 SharePoint Migration

All my read and unread message are accessable. You will use this screen to keep track of your Yammer activities. The next screen displays my notifications:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

This screen keeps you notified about new followers or likes. Yammer makes use of Yammer Groups For example for departments or activities:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

This allows you to browse to a group and leave a message. Do you have a favorite Yammer group? You will love this cool feature, just add group to the homescreen:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

Pretty cool! The App makes use of the native device features. The Windows Phone has tiles, so use tiles! That should be a tip to every App developer. In this example you can quickly connect to the Yammer group and communicate with your Sales & Marketing colleagues. The last screen displays all the Yammer users:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

Every colleague has a Yammer profile. This profile enables me to directly communicate with Pavel by leaving a private message:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration SocialOffice 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

Surface RT

I am going to be honest and blunt here. The Surface RT Yammer App is terrible and feels unfinished. I really express myself politely because I could have use different words to describe this “App”. For some reason the Surface RT App is a world of difference compared to the Windows Phone 8 App. Let me guide you through it. The following screenshot illustrates the home page:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

Although the design is kind of bland, you can easily browse through your feed. Let’s leave a reply to Garth’s message:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

This works, as it should, but once you try to add a colleague to the message, something strange happens:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

The auto correct feature is enabled for some bizarre reason. The people suggestions do appear but this shouldn’t happen. Ok, next step. Let leave a message for our colleagues:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

There is ONE advantage of the Surface RT App. That’s the option to add a document. That’s actually really useful and missing on the Windows Phone 8 App. I will talk a bit more about this with the iPad and iPhone Apps.

You open the settings of the App by clicking on the name of the Yammer network:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

Hopefully you noticed a missing option, an overview of your colleagues. For some reason this important feature isn’t available. This is an essential feature to directly communicate with your colleagues! Just when I though the issues stopped here, I decided to click on Notifications:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

What the heck? A browser session opens and I have to Sign Up for Yammer? What is going on here? This App is a major disappointment. I would recommend using Internet Explorer instead of the App. I am feeling a bit down after dealing with this App, let’s quickly move on to the iPad.


iPad

The iPad Yammer App has a totally different look & feel compared to the Windows Phone and Surface RT. The App starts with the messages of your inbox:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

The My Feed isn’t available but replaced by Top Conversations:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

You get an overview of the most popular (active) conversations. That’s a really nice feature but I wish the default My Feed was also present. Let’s reply to a message:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

This works as expected. Just like other iPad apps, you can’t add attachments but only pictures. You are able to open the attachment, in this case a Word document, and even leave comments:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

That’s very cool and really stimulates collaboration on the road. Are you going to work with the train? Start Yammer and review documents and chat with your colleagues. Unfortunately the iPad Yammer App is also missing the essential People feature.

iPhone

Last one up! The iPhone App. I really like the App. It’s fast and all the features you expect for a mobile device are present. The design feels finished and suits the iPhone. In contrary to the iPad app, the iPhone has a My Feed:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

You are also able to view Documents and place annotations. This also makes the iPhone very suitable for using Yammer on the road. The People feature is present:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

You can scroll down or start typing the name of our colleague. I really like the contact detail page:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

You can immediately send an e-mail or place a call. It doesn’t stop here because you can save Alex’s details to your iPhone:

Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

That’s very cool option and addition to the Yammer App.

Conclusion

I really like Yammer and see the possibilities it has for businesses to improve internal collaboration. You can communicate with your colleagues, through Yammer, anywhere and anytime! That said, there is still a lot of work to be done for the mobile Apps. Especially the tablet Apps. The Surface RT App should be completely redone and the iPad App should receive additional and essential features.

Looking at all the differences between the devices, I decided to create a table with the most important Yammer features.
SharePoint Office 365 Social Yammer on devices

I want to provide more information about external networks and extended status updates. In this post I talked about internal social communication. Yammer enables external communication by creating an external network. This is a great asset in extranet scenarios. No surprise to see which App is missing this feature…

Extended status updates are posting a poll, praise someone or post an event. The following figure shows these options:
Office 365 SharePoint Collaboration Social

At the moment these features are only available in the browser. It’s important to realize that the Apps aren’t developed for administrator tasks such as creating new networks are adding new users. The Apps are perfect for quickly sharing updates, pictures or documents.

This is the table of contents of this series:

I hope you will find these posts useful and insightful. Please, don’t hesitate to leave your feedback.

Jasper Oosterveld
This article is a guest post by Jasper Oosterveld. A member of the SharePoint community, co-author of two books and speaker for many SharePoint Conferences and SharePoint Saturdays. If you are looking for Jasper, you'll find him working for Macaw straight from the Netherlands!

by Jasper Oosterveld
Jasper Oosterveld
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