Is Yammer a defensible technology

The winner of Techcrunch50, Yammer, positions itself as Twitter for business, with communities built around user email domains. i.e. Indeed, any Twitter user will be instantly familiar with the service and it's features.

Unlike Twitter, users can only connect to other users from the same company but thereafter tap into the "news" stream from the company community/network i.e. every message from anyone in the same company, which is the default setting. You do have the choice to filter this by people or "tags" that you follow, the latter being a embedded keyword/code attached to a message by it's author e.g. a project name.

Similar to Twitter, you can also send message to specific users.

Importantly, as the Help section points out
I wonder whether this might temper the use of service by employees, concerned about who might see their messages. For instance, knowing your boss [or someone even higher up the company] is monitoring messages may discourage you from openly reporting problems/issues/news. As such, this might actually encourage use of back-channels instead, leaving Yammer to be a tame network that falls into neglect and see its' value diminish. Nonetheless, I can see an important role for such a service inside companies, being an excellent way to disseminate information quickly and succinctly, provided important information is not drowned out by too much noise and chatter.

You can interact with Yammer via a desktop application, an iPhone or Blackberry application, IM Client [AIM, Gtalk, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and Jabber], SMS and email. Of course, if you are in a big company you will probably be restricted to using SMS or email unless your IT department approves the use of Yammer and thus permits the installation of Yammer applications.

Unlike Twitter, Yammer have launched with with a business model that revolves around companies paying to claim and administer their network. Whilst there is no necessity to do this, you can imagine that companies will be keen to have some control over their network if it becomes an important communication tool.

The oddity is that Twitter didn't think of this [not a huge mind leap] and hence create a revenue stream for themselves. Yet, whilst Twitter could easily implement a few changes that would enable them to offer a very similar service, I suspect carving out a corporate offering within their existing offering could well run contrary to the service ethos. Moreover, users may well prefer two distinct worlds, rather like LinkedIn and Facebook, with a personal/social and a corporate divide.
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posted by John Wilson @ 9:28 AM Permanent Link newsvine reddit


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