Microsoft Ignite has ended and that means some great new functionality and innovation are on the way! As we scoured through the Ignite conference announcements and scheduled upcoming feature updates there were a couple of items we thought warranted being highlighted for a closer look.
Let’s Talk About Yammer
Employee Engagement with Yammer:
Yammer gets a bad rap; leadership cringes when they hear the phrase ‘social for enterprise.’ Now that Microsoft has been placing so much emphasis on Microsoft Teams, many have been wondering if Yammer is silently exiting the scene, and if it remains, why?
Despite Microsoft declaring this, 'The Year of Yammer', this platform has offered valuable services to organizations for years. Does your organization still use Distribution Lists? Those members respond to questions with reply all while essentially sending answers into a black hole. New employees have zero visibility into previous conversations, so a new question is sent and answered with another (you guessed it) reply all.
Yammer makes for a practical and intuitive replacement for Distribution Lists, creating a searchable knowledge base of company announcements and tribal knowledge. And now, Microsoft is finally investing in the modernization of this platform.
1. Improved Question and Answer
While we’ve always been able to post a question and get responses, it was up to every reader to scan the thread and attempt to interpret the correct response. Released in July, the community can now ask questions and the author, or any group admin, can mark the best response.
2. Pin Questions and Polls
Polls and Questions are not that useful if they get lost in the ever-growing thread. Admins can now announce and pin questions and polls to the top of the feed.
3. Live Events
Create Live Events directly from Yammer. Broadcast your organization’s quarterly All Hands meetings or monthly sales calls. These events can be produced via external encoders if it’s an in-person event or via Microsoft Teams and then broadcast live in a group’s Yammer feed.
4. Better integration with Outlook, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint
Are you worried about creating yet another space that your employees have to check for updates? You’re not alone. This is one of the major arguments we hear when deciding whether to roll out Yammer. Now, whether your employees spend their day in Outlook, Microsoft Teams or SharePoint, they can interact with Yammer without having to click anywhere else.
Yammer conversations are now fully interactive inside Outlook allowing employees to share feedback, vote on polls and respond to posts without leaving their inbox.
Yammer integration is also improved inside of Microsoft Teams, allowing employees to watch Live events and respond to posts and polls.
Employees can now also use the Question and Answer feature via the Yammer web part.
These are just a couple of the new changes coming to Yammer and we think it is worth people taking a second look at what this tool can do and how it can build communities and share information within your organization.
Microsoft Teams (Of Course)
Microsoft Teams has continued to grow in popularity and functionality and it is one of Microsoft’s favorite newer products. There are a lot of great new features coming to Teams but we wanted to call out one that we are especially excited about.
Microsoft Teams has released private channel creation for standard release tenants. If you haven’t seen this update in your tenant, rest assured it is coming soon. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what these private channels are all about.
When Team owners create new channels, they will see a privacy field with two options: Standard and Private. Standard gives access to everyone on the team. Private gives access to a specific group of people within the team.
For those who have been granted access, the new channel will appear as a regular channel with a lock icon on the right side. The private channel will not appear for any other users. A private channel does not have any other physical differentiators other than the lock icon. These channels still have a “Conversations” and “Files” tab to begin with as well as the option to add additional tabs and tools. Here are some of the nice-to-knows before you dive in.
Private Channels – What you need to know:
Private channels do not currently support Stream, Planner or Microsoft Form tabs (Microsoft is working on it). You’ll notice a lack of full support for apps and extensions for the time being, but this shouldn’t be an issue. Most of us have been waiting for the ability to create private channels since Microsoft Teams was made available. We weren’t waiting for the ability to create private Stream, Planner or Form tabs. The arrival of private channels means that we can finally have an environment where client and internal team conversations can take place simultaneously without having to create a whole new Teams environment.
So… how do private channels work? For those of you who may not know, channels in Teams are represented on the SharePoint side as folders in the main document library. As a new channel is created, a new folder appears to represent each “Files” tab area. Based on this fact, you might assume that private channels are simply security trimmed folders. Good guess, but incorrect. Each private channel actually is its own SharePoint site collection. This SharePoint site is not a full featured site collection, it’s a smaller version created for the purpose of the private channel. Check it out.
What Should I Do?
Use private channels as you’ve been wanting to use them. Understanding the architecture of private channels is simply doing your due diligence. What we recommend at Pivotal Consulting in regards to private channels is to use this feature from the correct platform with the right mindset. Private channels provide a secure and exclusive area where key members of a Teams environment can collaborate. Don’t try to manage permissions or memberships from the SharePoint end as private channels are their own site collection and connected via the Teams interface alone.
In conclusion, Yammer is worth taking a second look at for your organization and makes a smart replacement for Distribution Lists, it also serves well for Employee Resource Groups, a place to post praise, hosting training information, sharing class and conference learnings and building culture. We also encourage you to check out the long awaited Microsoft Teams private channels! Contact Pivotal to start a conversation on these two great Microsoft tools. We’re sure to be able to offer some fresh ideas to help transform the way you work.
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