Posted by: karisyd | June 6, 2012

No “real work” in ESN?

In response to our Yammer study at Deloitte, I have been asked why there is so little “real work” being done on Yammer in that case, even though it is such a mature network?

As background: We found in our study that Yammer has been adopted by Deloitte primarily as a channel for creating context and awareness (to know what’s going on in the business), for information sharing, problem-solving and crowdsourcing of ideas, but not for project management, task coordination or working on joint content objects (such as on Yammer pages).

Now in my view the answer is simple:

The fact that we do not see much “real work” (e.g. working on a content object or task coordination), is not despite, but because they are a mature Yammer network! Since Deloitte have adopted Yammer at a time when no pages etc existed they have naturally adopted it as an awareness channel. Therefore, Yammer is not (yet) seen as a place to do work, but as a place to learn what’s going on within the wider organisation. Also another reason is that they are a large business, so the primary value of Yammer is in creating awareness for what’s going on beyond one’s own division (silo!).

Generally, it is much more likely for organisations to take on board these new features during initial adoption when people experiment with the new technology, new practice emerge and when it is yet to be determined what Yammer will become in that particular organisation.


Riemer, Kai; Scifleet, Paul; Reddig, Ruwen (2012): Powercrowd: Enterprise Social Networking in Professional Service Work: A Case Study of Yammer at Deloitte Australia, Sydney University Working Paper: (download the full pdf from this site).



  1. I have commented in your other posts…the reason is that ESN are designed around facebook, rather than how we experience getting work done

  2. Time and time again I ask are microblog tools for doing work, or more for sharing and asking questions. If it’s the latter then email is here to stay

    No-one really answered me at the end of this comment in this post

  3. Hi John,
    Here is my view. You are correct that Deloitte implemented incorrectly which only highlights the fact that ESN’s are more than a technological solution but require a cultural change and very importantly buy in from management … More than the rubber stamp…
    Now more importantly, work, I believe the benefit of collaboration for business is in innovation .. Of course all the other benefits .. But yammer and a number of other early adopters followed Facebook’s model of like/follow which everyone on FB quickly learnt, lead to too much rubbish and very little relevance. Secondly, this model over time, reverts to the silo, your comfort zone as that is your natural filter for relevance. So if your ESN uses that model you land up with collaboration granted a bit better than email but … You now have plenty of complexity for little gain from the users perspective. The company has more gain …. But unless you can show the users benefit they will not use it. It is the exclusionary model I call it. Starting with you and then liking,friending according to you.
    Now.. Take innovation .. Strong ties, weak ties.. Mcfee web 2.0 …
    What you want is an inclusion model where everyone subscribes to areas of interest ….. Big difference…now the benefits to the users start coming through in ways they did not think about – connecting them to other users they never new. It gets bigger when adding suppliers to areas of intest that you as a user and the company are trying to solve. Add a strong filtering system which reduces the companies flow of information to just relevant information TO YOU. With all the other ESN benefits you can now start providing intelligence and big data views …. Really showing the benefits of a centralized location for all communication … Trends within the company, related topics……and so much more.
    My passion 🙂
    Dayle Wheeler

  4. Hi John,
    I do not see you point, unless you take a very narrow view of what constitutes “work”. In most work contexts, in particular in knowledge work, “asking questions” and “sharing information”, hence “solving problems” and “providing input” are integral parts of work. If these activities can gain broader reach in the organisation, more engagement (crowdsourcing) than that has direct work benefits. Email won’t be much use here. I do not think a narrow focus on “the business process” is very useful.
    What is more, work places will only innovate and change and improve, if sense making processes across the organisation are enabled. This too is the space of ESN platforms such as Yammer.


  5. Hi Dayle,
    I am a bit puzzled by your comment. You seem to be making a lot of (imho wrong) assumptions and you seem to be rather unfamiliar with both the Deloitte case and Yammer platform. I do not have any stakes in either company, but I have had some insight.
    First, how can you say that Deloitte “implemented incorrectly”? Since when is there a “correct” way to implement an open platform such as ESN? Quite bizzare in my view. Also, you mention management buy-in. Giam Swiegers at Deloitte Australia (Deloitte AUS is the case I am talking about in my cases) is a prime example for C-level engagement in ESN as he is one of its most active users.
    Second, you make a lot of assumptions when you argue what ESN will eventually become (“little gain from users’ perspective”). Given that there is such a variety of cases, ways of adopting and what ESN becomes in an organisational context, the general statement you make is at best meaningless in my view.
    Finally, the last paragraph of your post I don’t quite understand, maybe you want to provide some more context? Nothing you describe there is really new; most of this we see in ESN such as Yammer or similar cases in large enterprises.

    Best regards
    ps: I deleted your marketing slogan you plugged after your name. Comments and discussions are welcome, advertisement not. Hope you understand.

  6. Hi karisyd,

    I’m looking for two things:

    1. activity streams to have sorting and filtering, tagging items eg. gmail tags, an inbox and a sent box…you probably already know yammer just released an inbox

    2. and for the same platform to offer some coordination, project, process type work so we don’t have to shift context to use other tools…this is what I mean by can ESN be more than just sharing and asking questions

    For example the folks at Twitter were fed up with using spreadsheets and email to coordinate acquisitions…how nice is it that your ESN tool can also be the same place to do process work

    I recommend this video

    • Ok, no worries. That makes it clearer. Don’t disagree with that. Cheers

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