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Microsoft finally fusing Yammer-Office 365 sign-on systems

Microsoft finally fusing Yammer-Office 365 sign-on systems

Microsoft bought Yammer in mid-2012, but Office 365 users have had to log into it with separate credentials

Well, that took longer than expected.

Although Microsoft began bundling Yammer with Office 365 shortly after acquiring the enterprise social networking (ESN) startup in mid-2012, users so far have had to log in separately to both suites, an inconvenience that will soon end. Microsoft will start to roll out single sign on for Office 365 and Yammer next month, and expects to finish by March of next year, the company said Thursday.

Microsoft has been progressively linking Yammer in various ways with Office 365 components like SharePoint and with other product families like Dynamics, but this extremely obvious point of integration has been a long time coming.

In fact, in timetables provided last year, Microsoft indicated its intention to deliver this single sign-on capability before the end of 2013.

It's not clear what has been the cause of the delay. Maybe Microsoft underestimated the technology complexity of tying Office 365 and Yammer under a common sign-on system. Perhaps a decision was made to move this down the list of priorities. At any rate, it's not ideal that this feature has taken so long to be delivered.

ESN systems like Yammer have to prove extremely user friendly in order to gain traction among employees. These products try to replicate the experience of using consumer social media services like Facebook and Twitter, but adapted for workplace communication and collaboration.

As has been documented multiple times in recent years by research surveys, many ESN implementations fail to yield their expected results due to lack of usage. To incorporate ESN systems into their daily workflow, employees need to alter the way they communicate and collaborate, shifting tasks away from email and doing them instead in ESN discussion forums, activity streams, wikis, microblogs, shared documents and the like.

Any obvious obstacles -- such as having to log into the ESN system separately -- should be removed as soon as possible to increase the chances it will be adopted by a critical mass of employees.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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