The Office 365 Network is born

Ensure that every escape route and exit is still clearly visible when the lights go out

I know some of you use the Yammer Office 365 Network to seek answers and to discover new knowledge. Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to close that network. The closure is described in this article: Announcing the public preview of the new Office 365 Network online community . It is being replaced with a new publically accessible forum Office 365 Network . The forum is not built on Yammer and its usability is questionable at best though they do say they are working on that…

This is not a vote of no confidence in Yammer or a #yamexit. It is Yammer’s strength that has forced this move. By design, Yammer is not publically indexable by the likes of Google and Bing. The lack of unauthenticated discovery allows people to converse and collaborate in confidence, safe in the knowledge that their contributions will not surface in unexpected locations, be used out of context etc. There are those in Microsoft who feel that the lack of discoverability through search by non-authenticated users is a barrier that needs to be removed.

The shift to a new publically accessible platform will cause a change in the conversational dynamics. Whilst the platform is not intended for ‘break-fix’, they still want people to use the likes of Microsoft | Community (aka Microsoft Answers) for that, it is built on forum technology which, by design, lends itself to Q&A rather than collaborative discussion. Only time will tell if Microsoft manage to keep a lid on the ‘break-fix’ and are able to foster a sense of community. Another change in this area is that Microsoft will control the creation of groups. Inevitably this will keep the focus on the products rather than the wider issues and thinking that directly influences the usage and adoption of the products.

The platform also includes gamification and you can expect to be awarded badges for almost every action. Some will find this immensely irritating and others will revel in it. The value gamification brings to building a community is questionable but it’s one of the hooks Microsoft feel they need to get people to take part.

The question remains ‘how does this affect you?’

  • You have between now and the 1st of September to make the move to the new network
  • Conversations in the new network are public and you have reduced control over any content you share
  • Any member of your staff can participate, they do not need a work account (this has benefits as well as risks)
  • It’s up to you to preserve or migrate content from the Yammer Office 365 Network. Any knowledge that you wish to retain after 1st September needs to be copied out and be aware that Microsoft will not be providing tools to help you
  • The vast majority of groups will not be migrated so if you have one for collaboration, say with your Microsoft account team or a group of like minded individuals, you’ll need to find a new home for those conversations.
    • Now could be the time to switch on external access for Yammer in your home network and invite your partners to join you there
  • You should consider communicating to staff the presence of the new network and what it is intended to be used for. You could use the opportunity to reinforce desired behaviours e.g.
    • something is broken – raise a ticket
    • want something changed – raise a request
    • not sure or want to ask – use a Group in your own Yammer network
    • have something broken on a personal device – use answers.microsoft.com
    • want to request a new feature (in a Microsoft product) – use UserVoice : Customer Feedback for Microsoft Office 365
    • want to take part in the product conversations – use Office 365 Network

You may be interested in the perspectives of others on this subject:

 

It will be interesting to watch how this venture unfolds.


Quote and sign credited to Seton and in particular their Luminous Exit and Path Marker Signs – Door Exit Route (Right)