Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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Installing social network software does not make you a social business.

posted on
April 25th, 2012
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Yesterday I attended Yammer on Tour in San Francisco. The company's going gangbusters. 5,000,000 users and growing exponentially. Just hired another 45 people. New features galore, including a Dropboxy file store than reads Office formats, an awesome federated search, and the ability to embed Yammer windows in all sorts of applications.

Reading between the lines, I don't think many businesses are embracing social business whole hog. They refer to Yammer as an "overlay" on existing systems. The "systems of record" are still chugging away underneath the social network. People are using Yammer in lieu of the intranet, but in many cases, that intranet is still in place. Going social takes more than shared feeds.

Also, adoption rates are a concern. Is a business "social" if only 10% of the workforce participates? Deloitte has 50,000 people Yammer users; they made 8,500 posts last month. They're in start-up mode, but still, that's not much participation.

Yammer's president described a shift in IT decision-making. IT looked for security, reliability, and compliance. Lines of business were more concerned with ROI and needs. Yammer thinks end users are now controlling the shots; they value usability. Software is following hardware, as freemium apps are riding the bring-your-own-device movement.

"Enterprise social networks are growing at 'social speed,' not network speed." Four factors driving this are: benefits of the cloud, mobility (62% of U.S. workforce works from multiple locations), social (sharing), and viral (voluntary adoption).

No one addressed using social networks to support learning, my current hot button.


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  • John Tropea - April 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm -

    For me the issue is that Yammer and the like are not as good as email to get work done…they still need to mature. Email let's me do more than a Yammer text box (eg formatting, unlimited space, paste images), and email allows me to filter and sort content, and even organise it into folders.

    The day Yammer and the like are on par with the productivity features of email, then I think we will see more adoption

  • Blair Rorani - April 26, 2012 at 12:53 am -

    Wait, you can do more in email than in Yammer?

  • Mark Oehlert - April 26, 2012 at 4:10 am -

    but Jay, there is NO way this could ever be used to foster learning. WHEN will Yammer announce its tie-in to an out-of-date LMS?

  • Monica Butler - April 26, 2012 at 10:49 am -

    We use Yammer at work and it started out great..until IT got into the game and it turned into an "Android vs Apple" war and "don't post anything that could in the least bit breach our IT security policies". I once posted about the cool app for teams to work on projects..and immediately they jumped down my throat that "I had to run any use of outside programs by IT". The post was for personal use of the app. I was forever turned off using the service anymore except for posting trivial stuff….

  • Mark Oehlert - April 26, 2012 at 10:57 am -

    ok…so that's my point…that's a human problem not a tech problem…human problems are messier

  • Blair Rorani - April 26, 2012 at 11:46 am -

    +Mark Oehlert Well yes it could be used to foster learning. What if I have a question and I ask it on Yammer. And someone is another branch answers it for me. Then I tag it so it's easy for someone to find if they have the same answer in the future. Nothing to do with an LMS but that is 80% of the learning that takes place in most businesses. It could have happened by phone or email but making that answer discoverable for others in the future is a lot harder using those technologies vs. a collaboration platform like Yammer.

  • Mark Oehlert - April 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm -

    +Blair Rorani ;-) my initial comment was sarcastic…I've implemented Yammer in both my past two orgs

  • Jay - April 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm -

    Blair, Mark was talking tongue-in-cheek. He and I both believe in the power of collaborative learning.

    At Internet Time Alliance, we’re working with corporations to integrate social learning into the workflow. Yammer’s a good platform for collaboration. The tough part is convincing people who are accustomed to top-down training to give up control.

    At the Yammer event, speaker after speaker described the value of shared thinking and great ideas bubbling up from the field.

    That said, no one mentioned a use case for corporate learning.

    John, by the way, Yammer’s OneDrum feature set enables you to use MS Office formats, but I think the larger issue is giving up email in favor of a more transparent medium like a social network. See Luis Suarez’s experiment, A World Without Email.

  • Blair Rorani - April 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm -

    +Mark Oehlert All the same, lots of people probably think that way so glad you posted it :)

  • JB Holston - April 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm -

    System of record and system of engagement integration foundations to adoption. Learning one of top 3 use cases for successful engagements. Both lessons we've learned +NewsGator Technologies, Inc. across well over 3 million paid enterprise seats worldwide.

  • JB Holston - April 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm -

    System of record and system of engagement integration foundations to adoption. Learning one of top 3 use cases for successful engagements. Both lessons we've learned +NewsGator Technologies, Inc. across well over 3 million paid enterprise seats worldwide.

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