Huge News: I’m Moving To Yammer!
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!