Will Yammer follow hot on the heels of Twitter?


Use of Twitter, the micro-blogging web-site that allows people to post 140-character updates, has exploded in the UK over the last few months; traffic to the site increased by a staggering 974% over the past year according to Techcrunch UK. The site itself now ranks as the 291st most visited site in the UK, and was described by the Telegraph as the best known microblogging site:

Twitter is probably the best known of all the "microblogging" sites, and it has been incredibly popular with geeks and the technorati since it launched in 2006. People post messages to the site, either via the web or by text message, and these "tweets" are forwarded on to their network of friends and contacts

Twitter's seminal moment in the UK was on the Jonathan Ross show on the 23rd of January . This show marked the return of Jonathan Ross following an "enforced holiday". Both the presenter and his guest Stephen Fry- a self-confessed geek and blogger- are avid users of Twitter, and on the show they discussed how the site works and how they use it.

Following this programme, numbers of @Stephenfry followers have rocketed. Stephen Fry now has over 160,000 people following him on Twitter, which means that he has overtaken many of the superstars of the tech world such as Kevin Rose (you see those Digg buttons to the right? He's the guy behind them) and is closing in on the number one, Barack Obama.

This prime-time moment brought Twitter to the attention of the general public, and it hasn't looked back since. Interest in @stephenfry reached a new level as a result of the "#frylift incident". Stephen got stuck in a lift  for about an hour and twittered his followers with updates. He even used his iPhone to Twitpic a photo of his predicament (viewed 77,000 times) .


This incident was featured in several  major news papers, including The Guardian blog and even the Daily Mail

So, as Twitter grows massive in the UK and elsewhere, the next question is - will micro-blogging take off within the enterprise? Recent Techcrunch50 winner Yammer provides a micro-blogging platform to enterprises, free of charge and with some level of confidentiality. Yammer is pretty much like Twitter, but is designed for closed groups or companies. Orange has a group on Yammer with a growing number of active users. Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo, is quoted as describing Yammer as "The best communication and productivity tool available in the market today." on the front of the Yammer home page.

My own view here is that most people aren't inclined to blog because they find it too difficult. Micro-blogging, on the other hand, is so simple that there's almost no excuse not to. Its adoption by so many time-poor people is, in my opinion, an indication of how easy it is to interact with your customers or your peers.

Twitter is already being used by several big organisations and brands to talk to their users. For example,Scott Monty from Ford and Connor Maples from Orange. Lance Armstrong (not an enterprise but very much a brand - Livestrong) is twittering his training in the run up to his forthcoming Tour de France title challenge, in an attempt to be transparent and interact with his fans.

Twitter is increasingly being accepted as a worthwhile tool which allows you to interact with your community. Does micro-blogging have a place as a collaboration tool specifically within the enterprise, and will this help Yammer follow hot on the heels of Twitter?

Nicolas Jacquey
Rob Evans

Rob is the Group Head for Telecoms Sourcing for Western Europe and the Nordics and manages a team providing all aspects of Telecoms sourcing to Orange Business.  Rob owns the Commercial relationship with major carriers across Europe on behalf of Orange Business.  Cost reduction, re-negotiation, competitiveness and subsequent impact on country P&L are key activities that Rob drives across Western Europe.