Gartner: Yammer or SharePoint? The choice is still unclear

A Gartner webinar overnight with Larry Cannell tried to tackle the thorny question of Yammer or SharePoint.

Cannell says that Microsoft’s own advice is unclear – they recommend Yammer for “social networks” and SharePoint for as a “collaboration suite”, however this is a “superficial and confusing” distinction.

Reading between the lines, Microsoft is clearly leaning towards the cloud, which make the situation for on premise customers the most problematic. He quoted Jared Spatero, SharePoint Product Management at Microsoft, who had recommended that Microsoft customers, “Go hard with Yammer“.

According to Cannell, Yammer itself will remain a cloud service and offered under a freemium model. But Microsoft have a vision to integrate the Yammer activity stream into other products beyond SharePoint (although this is a while away), which suggests to me that this cloud-only component will become more and more important to the Office stack.

Right now there is a great deal of overlap between to the two products. Cannell recommended the following roles:

  • Yammer – Social networking, personal productivity, communities and team sites.
  • SharePoint – Document libraries, Websites and information tracking apps.

Workloads - Yammer vs SharePoint from Gartner

©Gartner, 2013.

In between the two, you can decide if you want to use Yammer or SharePoint as your intranet or for user-generated content, like blogs and wikis (and using Yammer as your intranet isn’t far fetched).

If fact, his suggestion was to adopt Yammer over SharePoint’s social capabilities at this point. However, if you are considering other products versus Yammer and/or SharePoint, there may be better solutions.

The main challenges highlighted by Gartner were:

  • The lack of consistency and integration between Yammer and the rest of the Office stack.
  • The time it will take Microsoft to create its integrated vision and there is a risk of using capabilities that are depreciated later.
  • Uncertainty for on premise customers – Gartner thinks that in future iterations, SharePoint will “mimic” Yammer, but I’m not sure this is realistic and the release cycles will remain painfully slow.

In my opinion, the overall problem is the lack of visibility around the future state of Yammer in the Office stack. This will not be known until Microsoft actually develop  it. Cannell also mentioned Yammer’s Open Graph API, which appears to be going against the trends of other vendors using Open Social. Its possible we could end up with yet another format war and Microsoft has a track record of preferring proprietary over open standards.

So which way will you jump – Yammer, SharePoint or something else?

UPDATE: Microsoft’s Yammer and SharePoint Roadmap.