Yammer Adds Universal Search, Takes a Step Closer to Being the Information Cortex

Yammer logo

Yammer logo Today Yammer announced a few new features, most notably the ability to return search results from external applications from within Yammer. Yammer has been been working to build integrations with other business applications such as SAP, Netsuite, Salesforce.com and Microsoft SharePoint, either through partnerships or on its own.

Now Yammer can display records and content from any application a customer has integrated into Yammer via these connectors. The company has also expanded its Activity Stream API to support access control so the connectors won’t show users any records that they don’t have access to. Yammer is positioning this new feature as a more comprehensive alternative to existing enterprise search products because users can use it to search for content across multiple cloud applications from a single search bar.

Yammer Universal Search Screenshot

Yesterday, I talked about the centrality of IRC and other real-time group chat applications to DevOps and other collaborative teams. Microblogging can be a similarly central discussion location, or possibly even a replacement. We’ve written before about the idea of activity streams becoming the information cortex of the enterprise. Yammer is actively pursuing this possibility. Earlier this year Yammer added a sidebar for activity stream integrations. As I wrote then: “Yammer is effectively splitting its activity streams in two: one area for human status updates, like the early days of Yammer as a microblogging tool, and the other area for other types of updates.” That makes it easier to digest a stream of both human collaboration and potentially machine generated updates.

In an interview, David Sacks cited a Aragon Research report titled that makes the case that intranets are being replaced by enterprise social networks. By building connectors to software like Microsoft SharePoint, Sacks says that Yammer is trying to give enterprises the option to integrate and migrate rather than rip and replace. Jive has been pushing this idea as well with its Social Intranet product.

Three of the big reasons that intranets have failed in the past are 1) It can be hard to find what you’re looking for, 2) It’s yet another destination app or site, in addition to your e-mail, calendar, CRM, business intelligence dashboards, and so on, and 3) There’s no compelling reason to keep coming back to the intranet.

Yammer is attempting to solve all three of these problems by making the intranet an engaging application through microblogging, making it easy to find things through universal search and making it a single destination for updates from all other business applications. Yammer’s activity stream can also be embedded into another system, such as Netsuite, so those users that don’t want yet another application to look at can still participate from within existing applications. The embed feature just came out of beta today.

Yammer announced a few other new features, which you can read about on its website. It also rolled connectors for Microsoft’s burgeoning Dynamics product line and announced several new marquee customers, including Nokia and Netsuite.