Sunday, October 04, 2015

Rumours of Yammer's terminal health

Just read a very interesting post by Wictor Wilén, a SharePoint MVP here in Sweden. He strongly argues that Yammer is planned for termination by Microsoft and lists several, very good reasons for this. Do read it.

Is Yammer breaking up?
Why is this important for us working with Dynamics CRM? As you might know there is a built-in integration between Dynamics CRM and Yammer, where Yammer can be used to replace the Activity Feeds. This gives the organization using the Dynamics CRM system increased use of the feed functionality, as most of the features of Yammer Enterprise can be used directly from within CRM. It will create a thread for each record. For more information on how to set it up and how it works, read this Tech Net article:

Recently, in CRM 2015 Spring Update (version 7.1) it is also possible to integrate CRM to Office Groups. If you read Wictor's Post, you will note his referal to how this most likely is the informal successor to Yammer internally within Microsoft. The Office Groups integration makes the collaboration Picture in Dynamics CRM even more complicated as there now are Three different ways of collaborating;

- Activity Feeds
- Yammer
- Office Groups

However, if Yammer really is to be deprecated, then this Picture clears a bit.

Another interesting fact is that there has been nothing done to the Yammer integration in CRM for several versions. It was released for CRM 2013 and it still has a lot of basic features missing, like if it is enabled for an organization, it cannot be removed. (

If Yammer was to be officially terminated, do note that Wictor (and I in this post) are just speculating, migrating the existing data from Yammer to ActivityFeeds or OfficeGroups is also a non-trivial issue. As Wictor mentions briefly in his post, the Yammer API:s have some areas which can be improved.

So, based on this. I would not advice any current CRM system owners to enable the Yammer integration unless Microsoft starts investing in Yammer and/or the CRM-Yammer integration.

I would also be more than happy to have a discussion on this subject in the comments section below.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB


  1. The silence from Microsoft's part on future Yammer development for the past year has been quite telling, while at the same time Groups is becoming integrated with everything in the MS business application cloud (Power BI, Office 365 Planner etc.). It's been clear for a while that Yammer wasn't planned to be positioned as a tool that would be deeply integrated with company specific business process automation, which always made it quite problematic from a Dynamics CRM perspective. There are definitely plenty of use cases for bringing this type of social interactions into the context of records you'd manage with CRM (strating from key customer account teams, down to more operational status updates for support tickets), but building this type of "machine driven" posts was always in conflict with Yammer's agenda on being a "people driven" enterprise social network that can punch holes into the formal processes that many CRM system owners might want to implement.

    The way Office Groups is being developed as the underlying fabric that touches every Office 365 application is much more likely to have a long standing impact on business processes that span across a number of different tools and user groups. Still, it's important for us to keep in mind that it's very much early days for Groups as a technology and no one knows the best practices yet on how it should be applied into the sales, marketing and service scenarios typpically coverd by CRM. Rather than just a migration from one "feed" to another, it's going to require rethinking many of the practices behind how information workers and corporate IT have traditionally deployed and used these tools.

    Looking at the current Dynamics CRM & Office Groups integration, it's easy to spot gaps on how the tool level integration isn't yet giving a clear message to system end users. For example, if you've created a Group via some other application that now surfaces this feature (Outlook 2016 / on the web, Power BI) you can't link this to a CRM record afterwards. The OneDrive for Business library for the Group will not show up as a document location under CRM's Documents menu. The same goes for the Group notebook, you can't access it via the new CRM OneNote control in the record form's Social Pane yet. Appointments created in the Group calendar won't show up in the activity history.

    Using Office Groups as just another way to link records and files together betweens systems isn't probably going to deliver a very big productivity impact. I see it more as the new high level approach for how the growing MS cloud stack can deliver a better experience for the users. If we look at how fast Microsoft is pushing out new features in both the Office 365 world and also inside the Dynamics product family, it's clear that there's a big need for something to hold all these applications together. At the same time it's maybe unrealistic to expect a very deep intergration between each product, since that would likely just slow them down into the traditional enterprise software pace of development.

    1. Good point Jukka. So what would your general recommendation be to organizations looking to use collaboration like ActivityFeeds/Yammer/OfficeGroups within CRM at the current stage? Based on what you write, your not leaning towards Yammer nor Office Groups, which sort of leaves the built in Activty Feeds. Would that be a correct assumption?

    2. Activity Feeds has a much more limited scope of course, but it is contextual to the business processes managed within CRM and as such could be well leveraged as the delivery mechanism for kind of "push notifications" on records that the users are interested in but still don't want to receive an actual email notification on (since CRM doesn't have anything else like this at the moment, and Alerts are reserved for the server-side email sync error messages mostly...).

      Down the line I imaging the messaging in Office Groups and the current Yammer features will somehow merge or integrate, so I wouldn't necessarily encourage organizations to actively look for the native CRM Activity Feeds as a channel where users would contribute a significant amount of message content themselves. I believe you need a more collaborative space for making this sort of actions happen and Groups as the space for working on big sales opportunities or key account management activities already today seem like a pretty good fit. Yes, the integration to CRM is fairly limited, but we just need to step out of the application silos and find the best possible combination of O365 tools to support the business processes - even if all of them wouldn't have the full XRM flare that our beloved business application platform does...

  2. Gustaf,
    I have been watching this area closely, and it has been disappointing that Microsoft's investment areas have been to build up the Office Groups integration, instead of the Yammer integration.

    One bit of info that you might have missed is that there has been a small but useful enhancement to the Yammer integration with CRM Online update 1 released in May 2015, in that the choice of group within Yammer can be set at a more granualr level, see this video to explain more.

    The huge functionality hole in the Yammer to CRM functionality, is that you can't have a "Yammer group" auto-created for a new record, which makes the Yammer/CRM functionality pretty weak for most use cases which is why I didn't roll it out to our business that runs Yammer and Dynamics CRM.

    The is a dedicated Yammer Group for Dynamics CRM in the global Office 365 Yammer network, and I will cross post to your blog from there to see if we cdan get a wider discussion going.

    The link for the group is at:

    Thanks for posting.


  3. Interesting. I agree that O365 groups seem to have the lead for record-level integration with CRM; however, I still see a couple of things missing: 1. A group of groups that will let me see an overall feed, 2. Activity feel style auto notification/post capabilities. Without these, there are many clients who still need to use activity feeds.

  4. Joel: Yes, I agree and hence I do not think that there currently is a real alternative to the ActivityFeeds in Dynamics CRM. Yammer might have been meant to go there, but seems to be heading for less glorious ends.

  5. A further consideration worth keeping in mind when looking at Office Groups for Dynamics CRM is that you can't build any logic for making users "follow" them, i.e. become a group member. With Activity Feeds you can easily build a workflow rule that will set certain users (like account manager) as following a record, thus standardizing the process on who sees what in their feed.

    Since the groups that the current CRM integration creates are by default private (and this value cannot be changed afterwards), the group administrator needs to be actively approving the requests for people to join the group, or adding members proactively. This will actually make the contents of the groups (documents, discussions, calendar, notes) a lot less accessible to users in the same organization level, for example, whereas with a typical CRM configuration you would often see the content owned by other users in the same business unit as you.

    I don't really see anything there in Groups (or Office 365 for that matter) which would be a replacement for the automatic status updates that CRM Activity Feeds could produce. I think there's a lot more potential in Groups bringing built-in capabilities for solving access rights management scenarios for document libraries which have been missing from the standard CRM-SharePoint integration. Also, I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea that the internal discussions and the external customer facing activities would be tracked in different places when it comes to CRM, so that's another new opportunity for changing the way such information is managed inside teams.

  6. Yes, also good Points. The overlaps between these areas, especially when it comes to document management (or just storage) is something that can be discussed at length. However, I do think it important that Microsoft signal Roadmaps to give general direction of where they are heading with the Product and the different indications. As it is at the moment, we are left guessing and I don't Think anybody is happy about that, least Microsoft.

  7. Agreed, there is a lot of FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) around yammers future at the moment as investment seems to be being spent elsewhere. MSFT did publically state at ignite that yammer is a key part of he roadmap, however when the MSFT team are pressed for the answer on "When should people create an Office 365 group vs When to create a Yammer group" we get silence, and the growing functionality in the dynamics CRM to groups area. It makes it confusing where to reccomend laying down foundations on future projects.

    Re: permissions in Sharepoint libraries to match CRM records, I don't know why MSFT haven't bought the rights replicator technology from as that is exactly what it does, and it should really be a part of the core product suite.

  8. The rights issues ie non-rights replication to SharePoint, is really a sore thumb regarding the integration and I totally agree that Microsoft should aquire it but it seems that aquisitions, at least prior to the aquisition of Adxstudio, has been based on other logic that what would be best for the existing Community and platform. Also most development efforts seem to be going into the marketable features, not rebuilding cut corners. Wouldn't we all love to be able to configure the Social pane?