SharePoint Review
Don’t invest in SharePoint social…


(I think I am getting better at outrageous headlines to drag you in to read the post! … please don’t leave)

I recently read Jeremy’s post about picking SharePoint social over Yammer “for right now” and wanted to weigh in on why I think they are not making the call I would have.  It’s all just personal opinion of course and Jeremy and I are close friends and no doubt he will attempt to convince me otherwise over a few beers shortly :)

In my humble opinion the only reason you should consider using SharePoint 2013’s social features over Yammer is if your organization is 100% unable to use a cloud based service.

Why?

Because there isn’t a future in SharePoint on-prem social features.  It’s just not what Microsoft does when it changes direction.

When Microsoft takes a bet on something big there are never two options to pick from. There is only one option and the rest is dead to them.  Rightly or wrongly, whether you like it or not, for good or bad … that’s just the way it works.  This basically means that after that speed it approximately takes for one synapse to fire Microsoft and all its muscle (sales and otherwise) stopped selling on-prem social and started selling the new cloud social story like it was never any other way.  You won’t hear anything pitching on-prem social over Yammer and it will only be used as a fall back position if the organization cant use the cloud for whatever reason.

“What should I use for social?  Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?”  My answer has been clear: Go Yammer!  Yammer is our big bet for enterprise social, and we’re committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products.” – Jared Spataro, Senior Director – SharePoint, Microsoft Corp – 19th March 2013

Update 19th March 2013:  If you want more of a nail in coffin then look no further then Jared’s latest update on the Enterprise Social Roadmap. The quote above is from this post Yammer and SharePoint: Enterprise Social Roadmap Update. If you read that 90% of the post is dedicated to Yammer with a fraction dedicated to “If you are old and clunky and stay on-prem then here is a skinny bone to chew on”.

“Cool” you might say.  “That doesn’t change what you can and can’t do with the product.  On-Prem is still my bag baby!”

If you look at the features, pros and cons and line them up side by side on-prem SharePoint social will win the sprint today … by quite a long margin.

But mark my words … it won’t win the marathon.

Here is my prediction for the next couple of years.  SharePoint on-prem social features might be lucky to get a few new features. Maybe a some in the next update, maybe a few the one after.  But where we really quit the crap and bring on the meat will be in SharePoint + Yammer integration. This is obviously not rocket science given MS just spent $1B+ dollars on it. Everything social in SharePoint Online will be ripped out and replaced/backed by Yammer with deep integrations that don’t exist today.  100% effort will be put into this experience as a first class citizen vs. the on-prem story… sad face … I like on-prem too … but like I mentioned above on-prems dead baby.

Eventually there will be no Yammer. It will just be SharePoint Online with a lot more rocking social features built by a team that deeply understand Enterprise social.  MS didn’t buy Yammer for their customers (they were mostly already SharePoint customers anyway) … they bought them for the kudos in enterprise social and the team of people who get it. Microsoft needs to win enterprise social big time and Yammer are the A game.

So why would I say don’t invest in on-prem social with the SharePoint features you get in 2013 if you can at all help it?

I would put money on there not being a great upgrade story on-prem to whatever comes next in the cloud … if at all. There could be one IF you are using SharePoint social features in 365 today … maybe.

Maybe I will have to eat my hat some day when I look back at these words … but if I were made to pick a winning horse today I would be betting on Yammer and having a smoother path to niceness with future releases.

Sure, this might mean having a muddled and semi painful story now as Jeremy points out in his post. This might mean you need to educate users around using Yammer, doing some work to federate for authentication purposes so you don’t have two logins, doing some integration work to make it easier to post stuff to Yammer from SharePoint etc.…   at least until MS pull the next round of SharePoint integrations with Yammer out of the hat and make things a lot less confusing etc.…

But at the end of the day I would be ok with that vs. being backed into a corner that you cant get out of or have a harder time getting out of.  Even if that means living with a less integrated experience today.

Who knows … I could be 100% totally wrong (in some ways I wish I will be) but maybe I wont and I hope to have saved a few of you from writing a kilotonne of migration code trying to get all those posts, likes and follows moved over to Yammer … but having said that I am sure AvePoint will have a nice migration tool ready for that eventuality anyway … so maybe all this is moot :) PS: AvePoint migration tools rock by the way.

PS: The real moment I will freak out about Social in the enterprise will be when Facebook finally gets around to releasing an Enterprise offering walled garden style social experience for organizations.  I have thought for a while now that it would be “any moment now” … but nada so far.  If that happened and they offered light weight document collab etc.… it would be a game changer.  But maybe zuck is holding off while him and Steve continue their wee love fest while trying to stiff Google. Time will tell I guess.

Disclosure: The company I work for is a Microsoft partner

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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