Huge News: I’m Moving To Yammer!

21 Feb

I have some big news to share today. I have accepted a new gig as Head of Community at Yammer, where my first day will be a week from today —  next Monday. For those of you that don’t know, Yammer is the enterprise social network that allows employees to collaborate, share knowledge and achieve better business results by doing so. It launched in 2008, and is already used by 100,000 organizations, including more than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies.

To me, this is not just another job. In many ways, I feel like everything I’ve done up until this point was to give me the tools and skills to do this job effectively. Also, all of my prior work has helped me appreciate the importance of internal collaboration and communication, in order to deal with the demands of today’s business.

Here is why I’m really excited for this opportunity:

  • Enterprises face challenges I can sink my teeth into. I led social media at Attensity, where my focus was on enterprise customers, their needs and processes. It was one of the best learning experiences of my career so far. I learned a ton about the challenges of a large organization with regards to becoming a more social business. On the one side, you have the ocean of social and traditional communication data – emails, tweets, forums, blogposts – that you have to find, listen to, analyze, interpret and then take action on. Whew, that’s a lot! That last part, taking action, is the true sticking point. That’s why at Attensity we developed Respond for Social Media that takes all these social media messages, understands them and routes them to the right person in the organization for action. But what happens next? What if the person who got routed to doesn’t have all the answers?
  • Enter collaboration and knowledge transfer. Because no one in the organization knows everything, tools exist that search knowledge bases for the right information and activate knowledge sharing and collaboration inside the organization. Yammer is just such a platform. It helps employees share pertinent events, milestones, as well as ask and answer questions, building a true internal community and knowledge base. It’s more than just a stream of people’s updates — Yammer helps you create employee communities, some of which may be permanent (“I work here, and all employees are in this community with me”) or more transient (“I’m working on this deal, let’s the five of us collaborate on it”).
  • I love the social employee. A social employee, in my mind, is anyone who uses social tools in their work or personal life, who consumes, exchanges and looks for information curated by their networks and other people like them. A social employee is not always someone explicitly managing social media efforts on behalf of the company, but may become a spokesperson at any time. Customers are people, and they want to connect to people on the other end of the tweet, blogpost, whitepaper, video and Facebook post. Social employees exist in every department and are the engine that makes the company’s social media efforts run. Whether your job is outward facing or not, you are still a social employee, because the barriers between the company and the outside world have broken down. An engineer can be at an industry mixer or meetup, and give a quick interview on a digital camera or an iPhone, which later appears on YouTube and gets a bunch of hits. Because this can happen to anyone at any time, being on the same page is paramount, and Yammer gives you the up-to-the-minute insight into everyone else’s work world without having to send and read 50 emails and visit 50 cubicles.
  • Team cohesiveness, engagement and job satisfaction. When your team is fully functional and on the same page, you can do your job better, faster and remain happier in the process. Yammer did a study pointing to the benefits of microblogging and collaboration, with key improvements around communication, productivity, knowledge sharing, onboarding, engagement and even making the culture better (even though I’d say that for a company to use a service like that, their culture has to at least have the beginnings of collaboration and empowerment). I wrote here about my views on empowering employees in today’s organization, and this is something I care about deeply.
  • Consumerization of business apps. This is a movement I’ve been watching with joy in my heart for the past couple of years. Proliferation of platforms like Twitter and Facebook has changed we talk to each other as individuals and has started to change the way business software looks and feels. Over time, the notion of B2B and B2C will start to erode into a more appropriate P2P (peer-to-peer) paradigm — not from a file-sharing perspective, but rather a realization that workers inside a business are consumers too and should be treated that way. Yammer is a great example of such a business platform, which is easy and comfortable to use, and doesn’t have to be mandated from the top. I plan to dig into this more when I start work, but I’d be curious to learn more about the adoption path within an organization. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about this a lot.
  • Lifestyle. And of course, I can’t underscore the importance of living 4 blocks away from the job. Lately, I’ve been feeling extremely grateful (at times with tears in my eyes) to be part of this community. Living in San Francisco and being part of this “carbon-based” community of innovation blows me away. This is the strongest offline community I’ve ever been a part of, and I feel so lucky to be here, even though I moved here from the East Coast kicking and screaming a couple of years ago. Whereas my online and offline ties always reinforce each other, there’s an undeniable magic in being there.

I am very excited to join Yammer, which seems to have the best of both worlds: an innovative startup culture, quickly evolving product, with the footing of a larger organization. I am also head over heels excited to start working with the passionate and engaged community of Yammer users. We can make beautiful music together!

At Yammer, I will continue to do many of the things I’ve done before:

  • Tap into the active user base and bring you case studies, analysis and thought leadership around enterprise collaboration.
  • Establish social media and community programs externally and internally.
  • Align the organizational processes in listening and response, become a resource for best practices and organizational policy, work cross-functionally to execute, empower and build the best possible user experience for the community.
  • Continue to be the chief content producer, specializing in blogs, microblogs, webinars, presentation, video and photo content. I will keep contributing content to Yammer’s blog and external publications, while encouraging and nurturing blogging from the super-smart Yammer employees.
  • Continue to build relationships and work with thought leaders, researchers, analysts and bloggers to drive education and thought leadership.
  • Act as front-line social support and innovation conduit between the community and the product team.

I will always be there to connect with the community online and in person. You all know where to find me!

  • Selina

    Congratulations Maria! Many of the organizations I have worked with use Yammer, and so does Social Media Breakfast. Great internal tool. Wish you the best, I know with you on the team, it’s a huge benefit.

    • themaria

      Awesome! Thank you for the comment! As I mentioned, I love hearing from the community, so make sure you tell me what works and what doesn’t. themaria loves case studies :)

  • Phil Simon

    Congrats! I know Keith and a few of the guys there. Best to you!

    • themaria

      Thank you, Phil! I can’t wait to meet the team and really dig in! It’s going to be epic!

  • Charlie Oliver

    Holly Crap! We’re starting to use Yammer at Served Fresh dearie! CONGRATULATIONS!! : ) You will kick ass like you always do and we will continue to be fiercely proud of you. xoxo

    • themaria

      Nice!! I will be looking for stories of how our wonderful users use Yammer, so make sure to keep me updated. And of course, if you have questions, you know where to find me!

  • Lauren Hall-Stigerts

    Woah, congratulations Maria! This sounds like an excellent fit for you! Yammer is getting big in the space–I remember a few things about it from when I was working at Moxie. Sounds like a great company. Speaking of proximity–I heard that one of the keys to happiness is working within a 10- to 15-minute commute from where you live. Go kick some Jive and Chatter butt! ;D

    • themaria

      Thank you! This is actually an 8-minute walk, so I got the 10-15 min commute beat :)

      I’m super excited about Yammer — solid product and lots of users. I can do a lot of exciting things!

  • Barry Dalton

    Awesome. This flew by on my twitter stream so fast, I thought I was seeing things. I’ve piloted yammer. be interested to learn more about case studies for roi vis-a-vis other Ent 2.0 platforms. Good luck Maria

    • themaria

      Thank you, Barry! A kind word from you is always a precious commodity! I’m excited to bring case studies to the market! I’d be happy to get your thoughts around your pilot — let’s connect privately mogneva (at) gmail – don’t have a Yammer address yet, until next week.

  • Dee Anna

    We’re so happy to have you join the team! Enjoy the week off and we’ll see you next week.

    • themaria

      Thank you, Dee Anna! I’m over the moon excited! This is going to be amazing. My head is swarming with ideas — the only challenge is picking which ones we’ll do first :)

  • Shauna Causey

    Wow! Congrats, Maria! I am so excited for you. They’re lucky to have your talent.

    • themaria

      Shauna, as always you are far too kind! We are all lucky to have found each other!

  • Anonymous

    Wooo – congrats!!! Enterprises with a startup culture are the best places to be, You will shine!!
    Such great news – am certainly excited for you!

    • themaria

      Thank you, Maya! I’m so excited. This is really the best of both worlds. An established company with a solid product and an engaged user base, that is still iterating at lightning speed and very focused on innovation.

  • Jeremiah Owyang

    Congrats Maria, we may run into each other :)

    • themaria

      I hope so! And I hope it doesn’t hurt too much when we do. (couldn’t resist!)

      And thanks for the pointers on the photo :)

  • Gregarious Narain

    Congrats honey! I’m sure you’ll find some way to deal with the commute!

    • themaria

      Thank you honey! I love your support! The commute is gonna be tough…. haha

  • Evan Hamilton

    Congrats!! Yammer is nifty (I rather like that billboard they have on Townsend) and I think you’ll be the perfect spokesperson for them. :)

    • themaria

      Thanks Evan! The great thing is that I love and use the product, so it was a natural choice for me!

  • Janet Aronica

    So happy for you Maria! Congrats on this next step, I’m sending lots of positive thoughts and energy your way :) Lucky company to have you.

    • themaria

      Janet, thank you so much! Your support means a lot to me, you are a superstar!

  • Anonymous

    Congrats, Maria. I know Yammer will benefit from someone of your caliber. My friends at Xero did such an awesome video highlight of Yammer, I’m considering using Yammer for a Network that is growing globally now. See the video here:

    Can’t wait for the case studies. They are so helpful for us trying to implement social tools. Enjoy the walk to work!

    • themaria

      Jason, I’m a bit late to respond – for some reason stopped receiving alerts to comments from this post. I’d love to chat more about how you are implementing it, what works / doesn’t, and how we can help you.

  • David Noël

    That’s great! We love Yammer here at SoundCloud – have been using it since day one. Such a valuable service for our org. Congratulations, Maria.

    We’re based in Berlin but I’ll be in San Francisco next week for a few days. Would love to meet in person and exchange knowledge/experiences.

    SoundCloud Community Evangelist

    • themaria

      Yikes! I just saw this message — for some reason I stopped receiving notifications to messages here. Are you still here? If so, email me at maria (at) yammer-inc (dot) com.

      • David Noël

        I’m meeting Tanya and Drew on Monday for lunch at Yammer HQ – join us :)

        • themaria

          Awesome! Come say hi! I’m on 2nd floor.

          • David Noël

            In the waiting area on the 2nd floor right now :)

  • Brian Kling

    Congrats on the new role, I have always enjoyed your perspective and look forward to seeing it evolve at Yammer! And looking forward to meeting you sometime

    • themaria

      Thank you! Same here! Drop me a line if you are ever in our neighborhood. I’ll also be at SXSW next week!

  • Tessa Horehled

    Congratulations lady! This is a fantastic opportunity. I’m sure it will be a blast.

    • themaria

      Thanks, lady! It’s already a blast. And a huge blast to my love-handles — lots of catered meals :)

  • Brian Vellmure

    Congrats Maria on your new position!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Brian! Looking forward to collaborating in the future!

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  • Susi Nathan

    About “Yammer” whatever you put here seems to me simply great and outstanding. I would like to allocate about your contribution as well. Thanks mate and more power.

  • Shelly Saxton

    Yammer is really awesome platform specially for social networks.  I involve long time in this network. Keep it up though. Thanks!