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What "really" can you do in an Yammer discussion that you can't do in a Group discussion?

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Valued Contributor

The User Interface is different, but both are so extremely similar at this point, what are the real differences between the two, and why would I encourage a Group to have discussions in Yammer vs Group inbox?

 

Both are thread based, both can be "liked", both have mobile apps

 

Groups can be accessed in Outlook, which is why Groups are now demolishing Yammer in our organization.

15 Replies
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I would also like to get Microsoft's take on this. From a user experience perspective I can easily see how Yammer would be the better option for conversations (fluid, visible, organized better) but at the same time I can see how the business will challenge using Yammer if they already have a "conversation" tool that is clearly marked as "conversation" ;-).

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There are still difference in modality between email and Yammer. For example, with email you can fork a thread, remove people from it, etc.

But at the core, Yammer remains the place where people within an organization has the ability to connect, share, and discover people and information across their organization. Yammer allows me to discover information in ways that email based conversations don't allow (or are not easy to find).
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I'm not sure what you mean, @Lillian Diaz. Mind clarifying?

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But isnt Group conversations closing that gap?

I can make Groups public, I can join ones that I want, I can search inside of it to discover who is in it, and what conversations they are having.

Again, the interface is different, but it just seems to me you are doing all of the same things.
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Solution

The content of the messages in Yammer or in Outlook/email are certainly similar (Yammer today is plain text, whereas email is rich text... Yammer will soon have ability to edit a posted item, email doesn't have that).

 

It's the context of the two messages that are different. A message inside an email list in a Group is not particularly discoverable unless you go into the group and view/search the messages. The benefit of Yammer is that when you go into Yammer you can easily see which groups have new messages, plus from the home page you have the Discovery feed that populates with key/important discussion inside Yammer - often from groups you're not a member of. This allows for serendipity to happen and discovery key insights from your organization.

 

Additonally, it's very easy to bring someone into a Yammer discussion by either @ mentioning them or by sending a link to an expert to join the conversation.

 

It's the discovery and open access to these discussions that separates the discussions in Yammer from the discussions in email.

 

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(image is from my recent article about Yammer: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/welcome-office-365-yammer-kevin-crossman)

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I hear you Brent. The way I think about it is in the name you mentioned, Group "Inbox." I know we get a little weary talking about good ol' "What to use When" but it is a critical end user topic. I think of the Inbox as something I mail to and if I live in email or my main biz process is there then maybe a choose that. But, while they are similar, the folks I work with / collab with prefer Yammer for the reasons Lilly mentioned. 

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I see Outlook groups taking a lot of inspiration from Yammer groups, especially with the social features, at-mentions and likes added. A Yammer conversation is more open and easier to reference. I can link to the conversation. The equivalent in Outlook (groups or DLs) is to forward the conversation or add someone to the recipients list. Similar effect, but not really the same.
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Well for me using my phone its still easier to move between different Yammer groups on that device vs Groups.

 

Plus Yammer groups are much larger in our organisation - centered around communities of practise, so group conversations maybe for small teams (or use Teams...) but for big subjects - its still Yammer for us..

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@ mention in Outlook groups works very well too. Though I do see Outlook groups can still fork a conversation by removing existing participants from the To line.
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I think you're right about the interface. I think it comes back to choice. I've been meaning to write a blog post about the relative ease of consuming information via a feed vs. email. Email "requires" an action (delete, file, reply, etc.).
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I think another advantage Yammer has is that a Yammer group can be embedded into an intranet page and provide a visible place for conversation alongside the intranet content. We are seeing more capabilities to hold conversations alongside content. If intranets are to be the place to share resources/policies/forms/guides etc from departments, Yammer is a good platform to provide the org-wide conversation in context of the content.
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Yammer conversations are hosted vs point-to-point. Linking to a single thread is often overlooked as are topics / tags. Show me how to aggregate conversations across groups with Groups. The job to be done is different in Yammer. Connection, curation and collision trump any ease of access in Outlook.
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Yes, I was speaking along the lines of your follow-up comment ;-).

 

Really, what I meant was, the labeling of 'Conversations' in Outlook Groups has  already been challenged by the business at my company. A few 'die- hard email champions' in my organization are pointing out that if Microsoft has labeled Outlook Group email as 'Conversations' then that really means they should continue using email as a main conversation tool.

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Well, with that attitude, why did they ever move from in person "conversations" to email :) #tongueincheek

In all seriousness, we both know that communications and communication styles are constantly evolving. There are some that may never feel comfortable getting out of what they know and love with respect to conversing over email. But consider this...Look at an Instagram feed or a Snapchat feed. Increasingly, in our personal lives, "conversations" are becoming ever more visual. Think about how quickly I can get through my Snapchat "Inbox" vs. my email inbox.

So when it comes down to UI of email and other feed based platforms like Yammer, I think it's helping people understand the evolution of communications to something that is much more consumable than the "heaviness" of email.
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Discoverability will be the primary differentiator IMO. Groups in Outlook goes back to being siloed. 

 

I could see Yammer evolving to conversations that are about the big strategic topics, and O365 Groups and Teams taking the place of many of the private groups in Yammer. As far as I know, Groups does not provide a platform for enterprise questions like, "Does anyone know how to..." 

 

My assumption is that Delve or something else eventually brings this all into focus for the user so we don't have to jump from platform to platform to find information. I also expect IA will help ensure we are looking at the most relevant information first. 

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