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Don’t Hammer Yammer. Think Bigger

Yammer
You have to feel sorry for Yammer, which won the TechCrunch50′s best-of-breed award.

Rather than showering Yammer with praise, bloggers have thrown rotten tomatoes at it and TechCrunch. Why? Because Yammer is pretty muchTwitter but reconstituted as a tool for corporate employees to communicate using 140-characters or less.

In that sense, Yammer isn’t innovative or unique (although, unlike a lot of Web 2.0 startups, it has a business model). And, let’s be frank, it strikes few people other than the TC50 gang as award-winning unless the rest of the field was pretty lame. (Personally, Fitbit looks pretty cool.)

But…..

I suspect many people assailing Yammer haven’t used it. What they may discover is Yammer is a pretty good service. It has a nice interface, it’s easy to use and could be an effective communications tool if employees need and want a Twitter-like instant messaging tool.

At PlanetEye, we started to use Yammer just to see what it was all about. While we’re not a large company, we do a lot of digital communicating using e-mail and Wikis. So in that sense Yammer could become a pretty useful tool for firing about small info bursts such as “Hey, check out new this start-up, taxime.ca” or “We’re ordering pizza. What kind do you want?”. It’s the kind of stuff that may be better suited than using e-mail.

And I suspect a lot of companies, particularly high-tech firms, would probably find Yammer to be useful.

Now….

If Yammer has potential as an enterprise tool, the big question is why hasn’t Twitter already moved into the corporate market. For a company scrambling for a business model, you figure that selling a corporate version of Twitter would be a no-brainer.

Sure, Twitter has major infrastructure issues but trying to get large business to cough up some bucks for a service that has become popular in no time at all seems like a straightforward proposition.

While Twitter fiddles, start-ups such as Yammer and Present.ly are moving into the corporate neighborhood. While they may be piggybacking on Twitter’s popularity and concept, you must give them credit for realizing there’s an untapped opportunity waiting for someone to seize. And if Twitter’s not going to do it, then someone else should take a shot.

So…..

While you can hammer Yammer for being unworthy or TC50 for unimaginative, the more interesting story is Twitter (or, at least, Twitter wannabes) are making a move into the corporate world.

For all we know, Yammer could become the Twitter of Enterprise 2.0…and perhaps make a lot of money in the process.

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  • http://startupcfo.ca Mark MacLeod

    I think the reason why twitter has not gone after this market is that its after a bigger prize: search-enabled ads. i.e. the google search of microblogging.

  • http://erielookingproductions.info Stephen Michael Kellat

    Twitter right now does not have the capacity to exist in the enterprise. While ad dollars may be nice, infrastructure building through corporate sales seems to allow for continuing growth. Agreed, Yammer is probably a pick that is not easily understood at first glance.

    Jason Calacanis and friends can sure pick ‘em.

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  • http://daxbradysheehan.com dax

    Search is constantly evolving why can’t a service such as twitter? Yes twitter was near first to market but that certainly doesn’t entitle them to be the last in market too. There are an incredible amount of micro blogging business applications, Yammer is just one of the first companies to build out an actual business plan. Three cheers. More twitter bolt on’s in three two one…

  • http://ericrice.com Eric Rice

    After getting barraged with SO MANY Twitter-apps, Yammer getting a ‘best in show’ award (which hey– not their fault), makes it look like our little web space can’t innovate worth a damn– considering all the other apps that were actually amazing.

    And did no one judging even remotely consider (or ever worked in a corporate environment) how a corporation would view this? Great, there’s a business model. Go sell that to territorial dept. managers.

    So, great, it’s a nice app. It has no identity, it has Twitter (you are as good as your competitors) and was given the best in show by one of the ‘leaders’ in the space that makes or breaks startups.

    That should depress all of us. Greatly.

  • YahooFanBoy

    It is not so much Yammer per se, but the devious manipulation between Yammer’s founders, TC organizers, and the VC community. It was obvious that Yammer had a conflict of interest with all that money at TC50+2. So that coupled with a lack of innovation was the real issue.

    So I feel MOST sorry for the demo pit folks. No wi-fi for the first day (this IS an Internet conference), relagated to gaming on the voting, and so many other issues. Basically the lowly demo pit folks paid for the VC’s favorites who pulled strings to get their companies on stage. After all how does TC50 suddenly add 2 more companies? Personal favors.

    So congrats TC, you have officially been demolished by DEMO.

  • http://www.jaxtr.com JimAtJaxtr

    Mark, I tend to agree with you on the business model issue. How much corporations and companies will be willing to adopt this communications tool remains to be seen. I was having a similar conversation with a co-worker, here at jaxtr. A bunch of us are playing with the tool already, but in the bigger companies (where there’s lots of money), there can be a lot of resistance to adopting something like this. Many corps don’t even allow IM. So, I agree that Yammer has staked out a smart position. Now it’ll be more interesting to see if they can sell it.

  • Denis

    You can just ask your employees to keep an mIRC window open if you want to talk about what kind of pizza to order.

  • http://www.brightspark.com Mark Skapinker

    Mark, I think you are absolutely correct when you suggest that “many people assailing Yammer haven’t used it”. In our office, we have been using our own, similar technology to internally communicate and it has been an amazing tool to keep our team in sync with open communication beyond email and instant messaging. It has led to team cohesiveness, respect for co-workers and high levels of cooperation.
    Probably the same critics assailed Geni (the founders of Yammer) when it came out as “yet another genealogy product” before it changed the marketplace.
    Products like Yammer may not fit old-school corporations but are great examples of Web 2.0 product that add great value!

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  • ray

    In reply to the post "Hold on there Mark, I have a great new messaging system for your employees, it’s called e-mail. I have digital messages practically coming out of my ears at this point."

    You can't lurk and read all the other employees email. The power of the microblog…resistance is futile…