Yammer Gets HootSuite Integration, A New “Inbox” and Its Own Design Improvements Independent of Microsoft

Yammer’s first new release under the Microsoft umbrella has nothing to do with Microsoft. It’s not about integrating with Sharepoint or Microsoft Dynamics. It’s about changes to the Yammer platform and a new integration with HootSuite as well as a number of other third-party apps.

The integrations show how the activity stream has emerged as a foundation for social network applications, allowing for third-party extensions and the capability to “pin” different feeds into the overall Yammer experience. It’s also a pointer of issues to come as messaging volumes increase. Yammer seems to be addressing that with a new feature called “Inbox,” that combines the social network world with that of email.

The integration with HootSuite allows for people to engage in conversations without leaving the HootSuite dashboard. Yammer is the first enterprise social network provider to integrate into the HootSuite platform.

Adam Pisoni, CTO and Co-Founder of Yammer said in an interview yesterday that HootSuite wants to give users the ability to talk internally about what they are seeing on public platforms such as Twitter.

Also new to the release are integrations with Get Satisfaction, the online customer services provider; If This Then That (IFTTT), the service that allows for coupling multiple apps directly into the Yammer Ticker; Fuzebox, the online meeting and collaboration servie; Mindflash, an online training platform; Mindjet, a task management service; Bevalley a business analytics service and Zapier, the enterprise connections platform that allows users to sync data from third-party cloud applications.

All of these services provide another way for users to have one dashboard environment for any number of feeds. It also can create confusion. To counter that, Yammer has made several changes to the user experience, most notably with Inbox, which serves as a place to track Yammer activity. It will aggregate mentions, group announcements, private messages and conversations that can be ranked by order of importance. Users can filter messages; prioritize messages by marking as unread and replying to private messages. What’s to come of notifications? It will be relegated to less important news such as updates to a group.

The home page is getting a redesign. Most notably is the new capability to pin announcements to the sidebar without cascading down the activity stream.

A new feature called Online Now allows a user to see who is available for online conversations. It’s reminiscent of Google Talk.

Yammer also received new updates to its navigation with easier discovery of contacts and third-party apps.

It’s interesting that Yammer is so focused on third-party apps in this new release. It’s a sign of a major battle forming in the enterprise social network space. It’s one way Yammer is trying to differentiate with Salesforce.com’s Chatter and Tibco Tibbr.

Look at the updates from Yammer and you can see an emerging issue with all these new apps. The dashboard is becoming cluttered. And with that clutter comes the need to both hide and surface feeds.

In light of this, Inbox is a fitting term considering Yammer is now part of Microsoft. Inbox is an email metaphor that Microsoft has used to build Outlook into a mulit-billion empire. Yammer is just beginning to become significant in its own right. How successful it becomes will depend largely on the messaging volume it can integrate into its increasingly sophisticated activity stream environment.