Yammer Stammer

4 years ago Microsoft bought Yammer.

For those unfamiliar, Yammer looks/feels/works identically to Facebook with the main exception that your friends are your co-workers instead of your “friends”. Similar to Facebook you are able to post whats on your mind, ask questions, create groups, chat and share a link to external content. Yammer users are also able to upload documents for group discussion.

When the $1.2 Billion sale was announced I proselytized that this was a genius move by what I hoped was a forward-thinking behemoth.

I am an advocate of  “over-communicating”. As the world speeds up the companies that can focus the most brain power towards a clearly defined, tiny set of goals will most certainly have a competitive advantage.

<yammer sales pitch>Being able to harness every individuals ideas, questions, resolutions while making the entire thing searchable…well, its hard to envision that not being powerful advantage.

If you need more, with Yammer people can collaborate regardless of time zone or even whether they work inside of the same company. Its accessible through web browsers, a desktop app and almost all mobile devices. Combine this with the familiarity of Microsoft Office and you have next generation Cloud OS. With Yammer as the spine!</yammer sales pitch>

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to today and from what I can tell (I check semi-often) Microsoft has done close to nothing with Yammer. The interface, collaboration, communication and most importantly the integration with other Microsoft products has not come to bare.

Three quick examples of “I can’t believe this hasn’t happened yet”:

Create a Web-based Document

Yammer Add DocSave it in the cloud, index it. Add some meta data for easy locating.

Real-time Collaboration


Anyone who has ever used Google Docs collaboration knows what I am talking about.

Skype Integration

My main communication tool is Outlook followed closely by Lync. I know Skype is now their thing but I still associate it with video chatting my in-laws. Regardless, using the native IM in Yammer is a whole other application and social graph. How cool would it be to create a doc, share it, and then have a video chat with your group all while viewing and editing the thing in real-time!?

These examples don’t even speak to just the general document storage, email or project management functionality that would harmonize naturally. They should just charge $XX.xx per month per seat, end of story.

Microsoft always has their Office handcuffs but they should be wary of their Enterprise Desktop OS market. There is still time but the likes of Slack, Asana, HipChat, Trello and others are currently winning.

Microsoft just purchased LinkedIn for $38.92 Trillion. It just makes sense that that will now be their main focus when its comes to “Enterprise Social”.

It’s disappointing because it does seems like such a missed opportunity. Yes, financially, but more importantly the opportunity to build some super-disruptive software.

Found Advice

The best business advice I have received came as an offhand comment from a superior while at lunch a few years back.

For the umpteenth time I was describing some sort of roadblock (aka. someone inside the organization not thrilled with my doings) I was running into. Clearly exasperated by my “complaining” he said: “Eric, just keep going until someone tells you to stop.”

And with this sentence it finally clicked. That was what I needed. A green light to be ridiculous. Go larger. Question others. Express myself. For those of you who have spent any time inside of the “corporate world”, you know that this is normally the path to rapid ruin. But now I’d received  my get-out-of-jail free card and I was going to use it.

As the world continues to quicken its march forward, it will be the people and the organizations that embrace this adaptive, open attitude that will ascend.

Thank You Balsamiq

You have enabled my business success.

For a couple of decades now I have been involved in Technology.

First in college, then at a large bank, then at a startup during the first Internet boom and then after the first Internet bust, a mid-size ad rep firm. But over those many years and weeks and days and hours in the computer lab, on the trading floor, sleeping in a cage and then floundering for a quite while in a cubicle, I was never that into computers, and this was reflected in my “upward mobility”.

<wasted characters>Coding is so laborious<\wasted characters>, Databases are ETL hell and Networking is just sooooo many wires.

I have never been the least bit enamored of the bits.

But, I sure do love Technology. Or shall I say, the touch point between a human and “Technology”. The infinite potential of it. The infinite power in it. That inflection point is where I belonged.

Enter Balsamiq…

I started messing with wireframes outside of work. I always had tons of ideas for applications so I began sketching them out. Screen by screen. It was an outlet. The same way a painter uses a canvass, or the way a musician tabs out a new diddy. I love being able to refine it and then refine it some more. Take it down to its barest elements. Where there is nothing left to take away.

The intersection between art and science was where I wanted to live.

I was able to take this newly acquired skill straight into the corporate world. If during a meeting someone raised an issue they were having, I would go and sketch out a software solution. Nothing would happen. After a number of these cycles though people began asking me to mock something up for this issue, or that problem. To show what was possible.

Then, eventually, one day…we began to put developers on building some of those sketches. And a few years later, here I am. On an upward trajectory. 🙂

I am most appreciative for the software and for the path it has revealed.

Thank you Balsamiq for providing me with my palette.

Half Way There

I turned 40 today.

Seems like a good point to step back and take some stock.

And taken as a whole I really feel like I am at a mid-way point in life. I do not for a second take a minute for granted but in terms of years, family, career, knowledge, experiences and just personal actualization I feel like I am half way there.

For quite a number of years I have been meaning to blog. I have an Evernote with dozens of topics that I think may be interesting to someone but of course I always seem to run into the dreaded “Yea, but where do I start?”

So I am going to begin here, half way.