Twitter for the enterprise from Yammer


However new start-up Yammer describes itself, I guess it’s inevitable that people are going to think of it as “Twitter for the enterprise.”

The comparison is a good one, though, as what Yammer offers is, broadly speaking, the features and functionality of Twitter but in a more private way that’s geared for groups of employees to exchange short and frequent answers to the simple question: What are you working on?

Anyone can set up a Yammer account (I’ve done that as the screenshot above indicates). To do so, you have to have what Yammer calls a valid company email. They have blocks in place to not accept sign-ups from webmail addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.

Once you’ve signed up, you can then invite colleagues, etc, on your company-domain email system to join your network.

This is just like Twitter except it’s behind your own email firewall, so to speak.

And just like Twitter, you can do these things:

  • Set up a profile
  • Follow/unfollow co-workers
  • Get answers to a question
  • Share a news article, document or link
  • Participate in a discussion
  • Look up a co-worker’s contact info
  • Search for a topic
  • See what’s popular and who’s influential

Yammer adds quite a bit more, though, than what you currently can do with Twitter itself, such as:

  • See threaded conversations (similar to what Jaiku can do)
  • Add tags to your messages (such as what Hashtags does)

The basic service I’ve described is free. There is a pay-for model that offers functions such as managing members, setting password and other policies, IP address range settings, and more.

These aspects alone are likely to make the IT department feel more comfortable with a service that runs on another company’s servers. In the cloud, in fact.

Yammer also provides a desktop application (cross-platform and built with Adobe AIR, quite elegant) as well as mobile apps for the iPhone and Blackberry.

I can see a big appeal for a collaborative communication tool like this within organizations. You have all the benefits of Twitter but just within your own domain, as it were.

Yammer launched yesterday at the TechCrunch 50 Conference in San Francisco.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Sin Trenton

    Makes you wish for that you worked for a nice, big company, instead of a two-chaps operation. :)

    Going to draft my unwitting colleague anyway, just to test around with it. Looks like it figured out Twitter (several other followers didn’t really ‘get it’, IMNSHO) and improved on a couple of things as well.

  2. neville

    The API potential looks very interesting, Marshall. Thread on user forum indicates open API coming, maybe soon –

    Agree, Stephen, huge potential. If I were in a large organization with teams of people spread in different places, I’d definitely use this as a light communication channel.

    No, Sin, it doesn’t make me wish that :)

  3. Joseph Thornley

    Thanks for the find Neville. I invited a few people from Thornley Fallis to try it out with me. A couple from our Ottawa office. A few from Toronto. And today I’m working in a hotel room. Having a “virtual water cooler” like this behind our firewall could be a great aid for information sharing and creativity.

    Of course, it could be just another time suck. I think we’ll continue to use it for a while until we see whether the benefits outweigh the distraction.

  4. neville

    Joe, I think your approach – Marshall’s too – is what may make Yammer easy for people in organizations to experiment with – just try it out and see how people use it, then judge whether it is a value tool or just a time suck.

    How will anyone know which it is without trying it?

  5. Shel Holtz

    Sin, be careful what you wish for! I can just hear the IT people in large organizations: “These confidential, internal messages are housed on an external server? Never!!”

  6. Just Another 24 Hours

    Users Clammer for Yammer but will Corporate IT Follow?…

    We’re Yamming at work, yamming til the break of dawn Yammer is the hot Web 2.0 application of the week – having been recognised at TechChrunch50. This service is very similar to Twitter; its a micro-blogging application. The functionality is almost id…

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