A Year After Microsoft Bought It, Yammer Nears 8M Users, Deeper MSFT Integration… And Klout

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One year to the day after Microsoft announced that it would acquire enterprise social networking tool Yammer for $1.2 billion, the pair are today publishing some updated usage numbers and news about a raft of new features to demonstrate that Yammer is on the up and up, and that Microsoft is riding the wave. This includes more subscribers, more people paying for the service and much tighter Microsoft integration — but also partnerships with companies outside of Microsoft’s walls, such as a new partnership with Klout, to enhance what users can do with Yammer.

The company says that in the last year, total subscribers are up 55 percent and are now approaching 8 million, with usage activity — that includes messages, and photo/file exchanges — doubling in that time. Yammer says that paid networks increased by 200 percent over last year, although it doesn’t give an indication as to how much that translates into in terms of actual revenues or users. Recall that when Yammer was acquired, the company said that 20 percent, or 800,000 users, of its total subscriber base was paying for services; but at the time it didn’t break out how many networks made up that number. And in February 2013, Yammer noted 7 million users and paid user growth of 165 percent, adding 290 accounts in Q4 of 2012.

“A year ago, Microsoft presented us with an amazing opportunity to accelerate our business in the areas of both product and distribution,” Yammer founder and CEO David Sacks writes in a blog post. “Today we are seeing those benefits come to fruition.”

But Yammer and Microsoft have to keep a fine balance in how they go forward. On one hand, they are trying to show that Microsoft is putting its $1.2 billion social acquisition to work — if not in specific revenue terms, at least in terms of value-add for the wider range of software products that Microsoft offers. But on the other hand, mindful that Yammer has a number of subscribers who extend beyond those using Microsoft products, it is trying to show that the company remains independent and not simply another extension of the Microsoft shop, by continuing to link up with third parties.

First to the Microsoft enhancements. The company today said that Yammer will be getting a boost in the coming months with significantly more integrations with existing products. These include:

  • Further integration between Yammer and email. No details yet on how this would work or whether this is Outlook-exclusive or would extend to other platforms.
  • Enhanced document collaboration. This will give users of Yammer and Office 365 more document-editing capabilities. (Looks a bit like a Huddle competitor in that regard.)
  • Expanded Yammer messaging and external communication. This is something of a Holy Grail in my book with Yammer. Will this be long-awaited Skype integration? In any case, Yammer has been sorely in need of more real-time elements and hopefully this will mean more of them.

Further down the road there will also be more SharePoint search integration. Again, this is another way of using Yammer to enhance one of Microsoft’s existing products and make both more useful; although it would be great if it could be used with other platforms that were non-Microsoft-based, as well.

These plans come on the back of recent integrations that have included adding the Yammer newsfeed for users of SharePoint Online and Office 365, and plans to add the new Yammer app to the Office Store to drive more users. The latter, Microsoft says, will be in place by the end of June and will let users embed Yammer group feeds into SharePoint sites.

It’s not too much of a surprise to see that, for now, most of the efforts for new services at Yammer are aimed at improving channels with other Microsoft products but the company continues to try to show that Yammer is doing more than just expanding on that front. To that end, the company today noted that it has doubled the number of partners in its app directory — Yammer’s smaller equivalent of Facebook’s App Center — in the last year, with developers using Yammer APIs now up by 70 percent.

As with those numbers around paying users, Pavan Tapadia, chief product officer for Yammer, doesn’t spell out what that growth translates to in actual figures, but today the company is highlighting one of its new, and more high-profile partners: Klout.

This integration will let Yammer users publish Klout scores and expertise on their Yammer profiles. For those companies that choose to do it, they can also turn on an additional feature that applies Klout’s algorithm to a user’s internal activity on Yammer itself to create network-specific Klout scores.

As with Klout’s role in the wider world, it’s hard to decide whether there is really any merit to knowing about how influential a person is, but presumably if you are in a large enough work network that you don’t know certain colleagues all that well, it can be a useful bridge to collaborating more closely with them in the future.

“If you’re someone who has a lot of influence in the public social sphere, this is a cool way to showcase your Klout score in the workplace,” writes Tapadia optimistically in a blog post. “The second aspect of integration allows Yammer admins to turn on a deeper integration with Klout to produce Yammer-specific Klout scores for employees based on their activity within their company’s Yammer network. This is a great opportunity for organizations to identify top contributors and subject-matter experts based on their Yammer participation.”