Yammer and Skype for Business integration – Thoughts, hopes and predictions.

Firstly, let me make it clear. These are my ideas, not a forecast of what will happen. This is simply what I’d like to see if and when Yammer and Skype for Business integrate.

This brief post was inspired by a question asked during the Skype for Business IT Pro YamJam, held in the Office 365 Network. A YamJam is a large and focused discussion where people post questions and answers on topic, using the enterprise social platform, Yammer.

Rob O’Keefe asked in this conversation thread:

“Is there any convergence happening between S4B and Yammer? Our users are confused that there are two chats and Yammer Chat cannot be turned off.” (S4B is one of the abbreviations for Skype for Business. I prefer SkypeFB.)

I discussed the same question a year before this post after Microsoft’s Christophe Fiessigner  covered the Yammer roadmap in an Ignite webinar.

Since then, we have seen Office 365 Groups introduced which I had hoped would not only integrate SharePoint and Exchange more, but also bring Yammer conversations into one unified place. Lync sits across Groups as it does with SharePoint and Exchange. Where ever you see a username and a presence “light” beside it, you can start a conversation, a call, vid call etc. But we still haven’t seen any convergence between Lync IM/presence and Yammer IM/presence.

Here is what I hope it will look like.

Lync and SharePoint integration work well, where presence is visible and communication can be initiated via the Lync contact cards that appear when you hover over a username. Though this experience is only available when you’re signed into Lync on the same device that you’re viewing SharePoint from.

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In SharePoint, hover over a persons name to see the Lync contact card

I think at a minimum, Yammer & SkypeFB integration could provide that. If someone is logged into SkypeFB, their online status is reflected in Yammer. Hovering over a name in Yammer could display and updated SkypeFB contact card.

Skype for Business Contact Card in Yammer
Why not bring the SkypeFB contact card into Yammer?

 

One significant piece for Microsoft to improve would then be the in-browser – web client experience. Currently, if we are logged into Outlook Web Access in a tab in our browser, we are logged into Lync.

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We are only signed into Lync Online if we are signed into Outlook Web Access

 

We have to visit the People view to show our contacts and those who are online. Our Lync contact list is merged and dispersed among all our contacts. At best, we can use the search box and find the person we want to IM, or IM directly from an email message, hovering over the senders name.

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Use the search box in Outlook Web Access to find a contact and start an IM conversation with them.

 

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Lync contacts are found in the People view of Outlook Web Access

 

But we really need to be able to log into any Office 365 service (SharePoint, Yammer, OneDriveFB, Delve…) and also be logged into SkypeFB to show we are online and available.
We need a contact list in a panel on the side of our Office 365 services, where we can see the contacts we have added to SkypeFB. This is how it might look within Yammer.

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A SkypeFB contact list in place of Yammer would be great

 

The more I think about all the integration points, the more I see why it’s taking a while to make a reality.

How do you integrate a SkypeFB message, so that it creates a Yammer message in your Yammer Inbox? Do you even want to do that, or is it better for a missed message to land in your Conversation History folder in your mailbox?

The Yammer IM contact list is specific to each network you visit. How and why would you replace that with a list of Lync contacts that may not be part of the Yammer network you are visiting?

Like me, you might start to see that Lync and Yammer presence and IM are two different things. There are overlaps, but not when dealing with external Yammer networks. While we could bring the SkypeFB / Lync contact card into Yammer, Yammer contact lists are relative to the network you are visiting.

My hope is presence and common contact cards become available soon. Leave the tough job of reconciling contact lists and common messaging for another phase of integration. I expect there will be some sacrifices between the services, but perhaps a few new good features to replace what is lost.