June 28th, 2012 by Lucy Brandt
It’s been hard to escape the news this week about Microsoft snapping-up social networking site Yammer for a cool $1.2 billion.Â Widely touted as Facebook for business, San Francisco-based Yammer enables companies to create their own, private social networks, allowing employee collaboration, file sharing, knowledge exchange and so on.
The move comes as part of Microsoft’s continued struggle with Google for internet dominance, and also highlights its inroads into the enterprise social software space, an area in which investors are increasingly turning their attention.
As Richard Waters at the FT puts it, Microsoft’s purchase of YammerÂ “reflects the deep changes that are sweeping through enterprise computing and creating new business opportunities that may be bigger than those in the consumer world.”
According to Microsoft , it will continue to develop Yammer as a standalone service, as well as integrating it into SharePoint and its other business collaboration tools. And with 5 million users already, Yammer should continue to spread organically, enabling employees to experiment with its service for free before the IT department needs to step-in and purchase administrative tools to manage the new networks.
Microsoft isn’t alone in this social software land grab. Â As Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite points out in his article for CNN, enterprise giants including Oracle, Salesforce and now Microsoft have shelled out $2.25 billion for social businesses including Vitrue, Buddy Media and Yammer in the last month.
For Microsoft, the consensus seems to be that this is a smart and necessary move, with the social spotlight slowly moving away from consumer businesses, particularly in the wake of Facebook’s bungled IPO. These are certainly fast-moving times for the enterprise software market and the consumerisation of IT, as well as trends like BYOD, are continuing to have a wide-ranging impact.