Today, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Teams: A Chat Based Workplace.
I don’t think anyone is surprised that they're releasing their own messaging app to compete with Slack. Persistent Chat is something that existed before in OCS (which was renamed to Lync and eventually became Skype for Business) and I was wondering when it would show up in Office 365.
However, I’ve been hearing a lot of confusion from my peers and customers. There have been rumors circulating for some time now that Yammer would disappear, and now with Microsoft Teams' arrival, a lot of people are worried that it'll replace Yammer.
Question is, are they right?
The State of Yammer in Office 365
Yammer is definitely not going away. In fact, it might just become even more present for Office 365 users. At the Ignite conference, Microsoft showed deeper integration between Yammer and Office 365 Groups and held multiple sessions on the roadmap for the product, showing us that there is a plan for it yet.
But if you won’t take my word for it, Naomi Moneypenny has written a great blog on the subject.
Yammer has, for a long time, been an independent service. Yes, it was included in Office 365 and there were some basic integrations, but it’s always been slightly left out.
What it offers is a way for your organization to set up Groups around a team, project, or a topic and have forum-like conversations.
For example, we use it quite heavily here with our partners. They join a Yammer network we created and post questions. Each thread that is started gets its own URL, as the nature of these conversations is often expected to be with delayed responses, so it's important to be able to link back to it. In this type of scenario, Yammer is the perfect tool.
It’s also great in many other scenarios:
When it’s expected to have a longer response time to conversations (hours/days)
When we need to use a conversation as a reference somewhere else (Yammer produces unique URLs to each thread)
When you want to isolate external communications to a network, but give complete access to guests to see and interact with current and past conversations.
However, teams within an office sometimes need something a little more "instant" for projects to advance efficiently.
How a Product Like Slack Found Its Way to the Office
Though not necessarily popular in enterprises, Slack has grown in popularity in the last year. It is very close to mIRC, a messaging service that was extremely popular in the past.
Instant communication exists via Office 365’s Skype for Business, but once you've left the chat space, the conversation disappears. Slack on the other hand, allows teams to create their own public or private "chatrooms" and works on all devices. As such, organizations all over the world, including some using Office 365, started using Slack for more “instant” and less "formal" communications within their teams.
That last line is very important, because though theoretically it has similar features to Yammer, its usage is very different from a user's perspective. For example, if I need to tell my team I will be late, Yammer wouldn't be the best place to announce it, but a live chatroom in Slack would.
We asked you, our readers, if you use Office 365 and Slack conjointly and here is what you had to say:
A quarter of Office 365 customers that answered, said they also used Slack for their team conversations.
Clearly, there is a messaging need in Office 365 that is not met by Emails or Yammer alone.
That's where Microsoft Teams comes in.
Microsoft Teams Joins Office 365 Suite of Conversations to Provide Choice
It only works if you have choice.
Organizations generally have different teams with different goals and different ways of working, that is a fact. And end users aren’t afraid of technology anymore…they will get it from you or from the Internet, but they will get what they need to get their work done.
In a recent exclusive, Microsoft presented the brand new Microsoft Teams. It seems to be offering a very similar experience to that of Slack. You create channels, and within them have customizable conversations for each team. It’s like a chatroom, but for work.
Integration of Microsoft Teams and Yammer With Office 365 Groups
From the screenshot and navigation shown above, it seems clear to me that it will be integrated in Office 365 Groups.
Office 365 Groups is what links all products in the suite back to a single place, a group.
“But Benjamin, I already have Outlook Conversations and you said Yammer Conversations will soon be integrated to Groups – why another one?”
Because we want to give them choice.
When the marketing or sales team gets to work, they might want to have some of their conversations via email, others by Yammer, and others live with Microsoft Teams. Perhaps they will strictly use email or just Microsoft Teams. The bottom line is, whatever is best for that team may not be the same for another team, so having that choice is important.
The advantage of having all this within the Office 365 platform is that all conversations from one team, be it via email, Microsoft Teams, or Yammer, are grouped together in Office 365 Groups.
Why force your end users to only use one way of communicating with each other?
The Office 365 Group will control membership in one central location, while giving the administrators the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their content is staying within a perimeter they have access to.
I’m looking forward to trying out the preview. What do you think?