Chairs with Mt. Hood in the distance

The big news in the social enterprise collaboration software industry is Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer. Was this a good move? Some think this move could really help address the challenges Microsoft has had with SharePoint. Jive Software say they’re getting calls from concerned Yammer customers. Others like MergerTech have focused in on this less from a product standpoint and more on the valuation — Yammer taking advantage of the hot sector of enterprise collaboration to command a valuation based more on marketshare than revenue.

But for Yammer and Microsoft SharePoint clients, and those looking into using a social collaboration platform for their enterprise, what is the impact of this news? My prediction: it’s all about the Goldilocks principle.

Remember Goldilocks and the Three Bears? She picked the choice that was just right, not something too big or too small on either extreme. The power of Yammer’s growth was how easy it is to sign up and join a site for your workplace. You didn’t need to get approval from the IT department. Someone didn’t need to get buy off from the department to use it. People can just join. Even though the focus wasn’t on workflow (project management, task management, contact tracking/CRM), people liked the simplicity of sharing status updates even if it wasn’t connected to managing work deliverables (getting work done has been our focus at FMYI and others are noticing the value of this approach).

If you’re a Yammer alternative (or a Jive alternative) out there, the hope is that Microsoft continues to make the Yammer platform more complex with deeper integration into SharePoint, more control for enterprise gatekeepers, an onerous sales process, higher total cost of operation, and harder to get them to accommodate new feature requests. This would be great for Jive itself as well, because it takes away the old simplicity of Yammer and plays into the more complex larger enterprise deployments they have focused on.

With Yammer moving toward the more complicated large scale realm of SharePoint and Jive, it could open the door for smaller, nimbler players focused on making collaboration simpler. But larger institutions hesitate to trust companies new to the game or are too small with hosting their data because they don’t have a track record or are proven and tested.

The key for user adoption success (not just enterprise IT sales success) with collaboration software is the right balance of size, experience, personalized service, simplicity, functionality, flexibility, and scalability. Yammer’s future success depends on reducing its complexity while being integrated into Microsoft. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to stay focused at FMYI on striking the right balance for our clients and our community of collaboration fans like we have since 2004. It’s gratifying to see that the tipping point is here for social business networks as more and more folks sign up for FMYI to manage projects, track contacts, and share resources. Exciting times ahead!

Onward and upward,