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I’m a big fan of good integration in all shapes and forms.  Quite often integration is done behind the scenes and if done well it remains unnoticed. I was thinking about social enterprise and the role of integration and decided to dig into some of the major players, namely Yammer and SocialText.  SocialText realised early on that integration is hugely important in order to provide the best user experience and call it out directly in their vision.

When looking at Yammer I stumbled across their Microsoft SharePoint integration, which really impressed me.  Now my views are subjective since I haven’t used Yammer and SharePoint together, but what I liked about their approach is they obeyed my 5 rules of good UI integration:

  1. Put the user in control. SharePoint users want information in the context of where they work.  Yammer integrates with SharePoint rather than needing the user to go to Yammer for their activity streams.
  2. Consistency, Consider the whole user experience. Yammer didn’t just introduce embeddable feeds, they also extended SharePoint search and sharing menus. They have integrated information and control within the natural workflow of the user.
  3. Leave the sink in the kitchen, less is more. When integrating applications the temptation is to drop everything in to “add more value”.  In fact the opposite is true. Instead, the right information and controls need to appear in the right context for the user.  Yammer didn’t actually strip back too much but doesn’t overload the SharePoint pages either.
  4. Integration needs to add value. The nice value-add of Yammer for SharePoint is that you get to take advantage Yammers great mobile clients (which I use regularly) SharePoint doesn’t have a great mobile story so using Yammer provides a lot of value to an increasingly mobile workforce.
  5. Zero friction. Broad subject, I know, but friction can be introduced at any point in the process of acquiring and using software; its the single biggest factor for success. I can’t say whether Yammer nailed this or not, but I hope that integrating Yammer is super easy for the administrator to set up as it is for the user to use.  We use Yammer at MuleSoft and while it hasn’t totally changed the way we communicate, it is adding a lot of benefits and is pretty frictionless to our organisation.
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Here is the video of the Yammer SharePoint integration.  Nice work guys!

Follow: @rossmason, @mulejockey