James Royal-Lawson


Managing disruptive collaboration tools

Yammer has a wonderfully disruptive marketing strategy – anyone with an email address can sign up and become part of the network for that email domain. No IT procurement process, no buy-in, no permission from anyone – you just get on with it and start collaborating.

Collaboration behind your back

A lot of companies will be using Yammer without knowing anything about it – even if they have an official collaborative platform as part of their intranet such as Sharepoint or Lotus Connections.

Some do know and try to “force” users over to their official platform, going as far as adding Yammer to the list of blocked sites.

But what should you do? how do you deal with Yammer, if Yammer isn’t your chosen option?

Don’t punish collaboration

The fact that people have chosen to use Yammer is great. It means they want to share and collaborate. These are exactly the people you want to use as role models for other employees who haven’t quite made the cultural leap into a digitally collaborative work place.

The fact that they have chosen to make Yammer their tool of choice rather than your official solution isn’t ideal, but it’s not something that should be punished. You should focus your efforts instead on gently massaging them into moving across to where you want them to be.

I’ve written about Yammer in this blog post, but the advice is just as applicable to other distruptive services such as or Socialcast.

1. Create an account

Create an account in the name of your web management group or whoever is responsible for collaboration (or your intranet).

2. Social media policy

You need to have a social media policy in place to refer to (This article from The Next Web, amongst others, can give you some tips).

3. Talk to information security

Take some advice from your information security department, or check your security policies. It could be the case that Yammer falls into the same “open” security classification as regular public social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

4. Regularly post updates

You need to visit Yammer regularly (with your Web management account) and post some kind of update explaining what you can do here (and where you can do other stuff; the official platform).

Here’s a suggestion for the recurring update:

Please be aware that Yammer and this Yammer network
is not supported, maintained or approved by YOURORG. 

If you publish information on Yammer it must be 
information that is classified as "Open Information" 
according to YOURORGS's information rules. 

You must treat Yammer like any other Internet 
social network - such as Facebook and Twitter. 
Please read our social media and internet policy. 

Please also make use of our supported collaboration 

5. Follow everyone

Follow everyone who joins. This makes your “Web team” account more visible, and increases the chance of people reading your updates.

By dealing with the non-official networks in this way we are educating these enthusiastic social workers rather than banning, closing down, or saying naughty naughty. It’s a mature and friendly way of managing disruptive collaboration tools. A gentle touch rather than a heavy hand.

11 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 50-52, 2010)

Generations 2010: What different generations do online

Useful chart from Pew Internet showing how the spread of Internet activities varies across six different generations. One thing I find particularly interesting (mainly as I wrote about this in my december newsletter) is how virtual worlds are the least common activity across all ages. Equally as interesting is that email and search are the top activities across the entire age span. Isn’t email supposed to be dying?

College Students on the Web

Yet another excellent Alertbox study. Myth busting or opinion confirming – for me it’s mainly confirms what I’ve seen and already believed. One of the critical things here is that this behaviour is almost certainly going to follow with them into their working lives.

Your Website Only Needs One Social Share Button

As usual, it depends on your audience. A lot of sites would benefit from having a share button for one service (eg Facebook or Twitter) rather than several. One of the more interesting points raised here is one of: above the fold or below the fold. Placing the button above the fold is an advert, placing it below the fold is a call-to-share. Having both, for one service, would a good balance.

User Expectations with Mobile Apps – Catching up with EffectiveUI

What have we let happen as an industry when 73% of mobile app users say they expect a company’s mobile app to be easier to use than its website? We’ve created a world with complicated, cluttered, unusable, inaccessable, desktop web sites. All hail the mobile web if it continues to turn that oil-tanker around.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page

Despite it’s lack of references and supporting research, this is a good guide and reminder of how you should build landing pages – dare to be focused!

Wireframes are dead, long live rapid prototyping

I’ve never been a big fan of detailed wireframes – this article gives some of the reasons – I do though like sketching (often using “wireframes”) and then prototyping (and prototyping can take a number of different forms) with functional (and design) requirements/prerequisites naturally part of that early process. One size doesn’t fit all though…

7 YouTube Marketing Facts you Need to Understand

Another great guide from Jesper – and i’m not saying that just because of number 7 on his list! This guide isn’t limited to marketing facts, it’s really an A-Z guide taking you from the initial strategy decision through to page management.

The State of the Blogosphere 2010

Brian Solis gives this year’s round up of the state of the blogosphere. Creation in the form of blogging lives on, but curation is playing an increasingly important role and expect more services catering for curators to pop up during 2011.

Industry Voices make 2011 predictions

Some content management industry expert predictions for 2011. They are spot on with most of the trends, but i’ll reserve judgement on how much those trends develop during 2011. Some of them I really do hope take off…

5 tips for a great intranet strategy

You could snobbily say that Mark is stating the obvious regarding intranet strategy – but despite many of us knowing that this is what you should be doing, it still doesn’t get done. 5 tips filled with wisdom from British Telecom’s intranet manager Mark Morrell.

Planning for Collaboration in a Growing Business

If you plan to grow, then make sure you plan for collaboration early. This is the same advice for many of the (digital) aspects of a small business. It doesn’t take much extra effort to plan things early on so that they will scale much easier if (and when) you grow.

5 Valuable takes from Airlines use of Facebook – the “snow fog story”

Second featured article from Jesper this week, who is supposed to be on his way to Texas for a Christmas break. He was mixed up in the whole pre-Christmas transport weather thing – it has though given him a great opportunity to gather some Facebook insights regarding customer service in crisis situations based on personal experience.

Yammer usage within Swedish organisations

There’s been an increasing interest in internal corporate communications tool Yammer, but in more recent times that interest has jumped. Having noticed this spike in interest Per Axbom decided to investigate. Per created a survey using Wufoo and asked people in his network who used Yammer to take a few minutes to complete it.

Although there are a number of products that occupy a similar space in the market ( and Socialtext to mention just two), Per chose to investigate Yammer as it was the tool he is most familiar with, and because he wanted the answers from each company to be comparable – which wouldn’t be possible if several tools were surveyed simultaneously.

Google trends graph showing recent jump in searches for Yammer

Initial findings

After 9 days, and just over 30 responses, Per has published his initial findings.

  • Yammer seems to be most popular in organisations of up to 50 people (over 75% of those who answered)
  • Management are often aware that Yammer is being used, but the network is not being used so much for spreading information from the management team.
  • By far the most common type of use was sharing information between colleagues.
  • Very few search the history. Information is “here and now”.
  • Generally respondents were not worried about the security of Yammer.
  • Answers were divided regarding whether Yammer saves organisations money or not. Presumably few companies have a way of measuring this.

Pie chart showing that mostly smaller teams are active on Yammer


Per concluded that Yammer is potentially a revolutionary tool for intranets, in a similar way to how WordPress has been revolutionary for public web publishing. Especially if it (or another similar product) opened itself up better to third-party adaptions.

I agree with Per. Yammer is wonderfully disruptive, and despite some flaws (such as it’s poor API, and potential security problems with the free version), it can help trigger a genuine shift in the way companies collaborate and communicate internally – both directly and indirectly.

Still open

The survey is still open. Per has decided to keep it open for a further 1-2 months. This gives more people at more companies chance to answer whilst still restricting the time-frame to keep the analysis relevant. Let’s see what the full survey says towards the end of the year.

Tweets from IntraTeam Event Stockholm 2010

On October 5th and 6th 2010 IntraTeam held their first intranet conference in Stockholm. It was a great event and the most international intranet conference held so far in Sweden.

Day one featured Presentations in English, day two in Swedish – but almost all of the tweets from both days were in English, which was wonderfully considerate of those attending.

The Speakers

The two-day line-up featured:

  • James Robertson, StepTwo Designs
  • Rossen Roussev, former Shell Enterprise Portal Manager
  • Martin White, IntranetFocus Ltd.
  • Mark Morrell, Intranet Manager, BT (British Telecom)
  • Michael Sampson, Collaboration Strategist
  • Webrådgivare Fredrik Wackå
  • Christian Skjæran, Intranet Manager, Corporate Communications, Chr. Hansen A/S
  • Ingo Johansson, Web Consultant, Global IT Development, NNE Pharmaplan
  • Gabriel Olsson, Head of Corporate e-Comms, Tetra Pak
  • Damra Muminovic, Sogeti

The Tweets

Here, collected together in one document published on Scribd, are all 325 tweets by 101 people from the morning of the 5th of October until Sunday the 10th. There were a number of post-conference blog posts and articles, so I included the 4 days after the conference.

The Summary

In one of my last tweets from the 5th, I summarised the first day of the conference with these few words: task-based, people focused & mobile.

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