The enterprise social options offered by Microsoft seem to be ever-expanding, and causing a tremendous amount of confusion.  Yammer, Office 365 Groups (aka Outlook Groups) and Microsoft Teams are the primary contenders.  But there are also social options included in Dynamics 365 and SharePoint.

Enterprise Social Solutions Apps

I’ve been reading and hearing information that suggests that organizations should embrace all of these solutions, depending upon the department and individual communication need.  But this advice runs contrary to what teams are able to adopt.  Trying to know which feed to post a comment to under which circumstances can be confusing for a technical user – let alone an employee that just needs to efficiently communicate and move on to the next task.

Our guidance is to choose a single social option to start with.  Under some circumstances, you might want to consider one other option – but only as a last resort.  Research suggests that 60%-80% of enterprise social projects will fail – the last thing you should do is overcomplicate the situation by offering multiple solutions.

So how do you choose where to start?  We worked up the comparative table, below, to help guide some of our clients through this process.

Compare Outlook Groups Yammer and Microsoft Teams

At first glance, the chart suggests that Yammer and Teams are the obvious solution, because they offer a richer feature set.  But consider some other factors.

Office 365 Groups

Outlook Groups offers integration with Microsoft Outlook.  This means that users don’t need to leave Outlook to use Groups. 

If your users are struggling with learning curves, then the Outlook integration alone can be a game changer.  Yammer and Teams may both claim to offer this integration, but it is actually done through Office Groups and our user studies suggest that this is confusing for users.

At the end of the day, using Yammer or Microsoft Teams requires opening a completely separate application.  User studies show that there is a clear drop in employee satisfaction for each system that they have to access to get their job done.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Team offers the richest feature set of the three options.  It is designed to compete with Slack (another Enterprise Social tool).  Also, with Microsoft’s recent announcement that Teams will soon be the home of Skype for Business, it is clear that: (1) Microsoft will continue to develop Teams, and (2) if you’re going to use Skype for Business, you’re going to eventually have to use Microsoft Teams too.

Long-term, we believe that Microsoft Teams will be the social tool to use if you are a Microsoft shop.  Short-term, the application still seems to have some bugs, and can be overwhelming for users.

Yammer

That leaves Yammer caught in the middle.  Teams has a richer set of features, and seems to be getting all of the Microsoft love lately.  Groups offers Outlook integration that Yammer doesn’t. 

What does Microsoft say?  Teams will be used for your “inner loop” relationships – teams that you’re engaged with on a daily basis to deliver projects or get your job done.  Yammer will be used for your “outer loop” – people in the larger organization that you don’t connect with regularly.  Our experience?  It’s just too confusing to use two tools for enterprise social collaboration – users don’t know when to post comments to which solution.  Maybe Yammer and Teams have homes in different sized organizations, or maybe Yammer will go away, or maybe we will see Microsoft clarify the roles and functionality of these a bit more.

Social: More than a Solution

Whichever solution you choose, remember that the easy part of choosing to adopt Enterprise Social is selecting a solution. The hard part is the planning, communication, change-management and leadership engagement that is required for success.

Contact C5 Insight if you want to talk more about a social engagement strategy.