A taxonomy would give Yammer that little bit of Governance organisations are looking for

Social is here and it is here to stay. While there’s no doubt in the immense value social brings to the enterprise, I do have concerns (as do most of my clients) around Governing the beast that is Enterprise Social.

I understand that Yammer encourages informal and unstructured collaboration, and this in itself brings a wealth of benefits to the Enterprise – encouraging transparency, knowledge sharing, communications, etc., etc. But I can’t help feeling a little structure would go a long way, and by structure I mean I’d like to see a bit more structure to the hashtag and topics functionality in particular. If companies were able to leverage structured Term Store-like functionality for topics (AKA a taxonomy), and then perhaps leave hashtags to the discretion of the user much like Enterprise Keywords in SharePoint (AKA a folksonomy) I believe that we can really use Yammer as a more reliable and effective reporting tool while not losing the informal collaboration it offers. Currently, I don’t see it as a reliable tool due to the lack of any structure altogether.

Let’s examine this scenario:

CompanyX want to report on discussions around the office move that is about to take place, and staff members have been discussing for months now on Yammer – sharing ideas, concerns and general project information, however here’s the catch: some staff members have used #OfficeMove, others #NewOffices, while others have used #NewPremises and a number of others. This makes compiling the list of conversations and reviewing the project during close-out an almost impossible task. if CompanyX had a structured set of topics they could have added the term #OfficeMove, and add some synonyms to the term the report would be far easier to compose and more reliable in terms of it’s content.

Now, it is my understanding that SharePoint social already allows organisations to build a Term Store to use for tagging comments, which to me gives it a slight edge over Yammer…..for now at least.

All indications from Microsoft are that Yammer is strategically the way forward and what organisations should be adopting as their Enterprise Social Platform so all I can hope is that the concepts of Taxonomies and Folksonomies be considered and addressed soon to ensure more reliability in reporting and enabling at least a minimal level of governance.

Would love to hear other people’s views and opinions so please add comments!