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    « The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy - Part II | Main | Missing the Health Care debate »

    Microsoft and Microblogging

    This week Microsoft announced what they call a 'concept test' of an enterprise microblogging service that they call OfficeTalk.  In this concept test, Microsoft invites a limited number of organizations to participate in testing, and to work with Microsoft to provide recommendations and feedback.

    OfficeTalk is a product that has been in internal pilot at Microsoft and is developed by OfficeLabs, the Microsoft lab for testing internally developed ideas. OfficeLabs asks participants to view these experiments as 'Concept Cars', not necessarily intended or promised to become 'real' products, but ones that certainly offer a glimpse at what the massive organization is experimenting with, and potentially might one day market, or as in the case of OfficeTalk incorporate into existing products and platforms.

    Microsoft did share a few screen captures of OfficeTalk, the basic features will certainly be familiar to anyone that has used Twitter, or Yammer, the most popular microblogging service designed for internal corporate use.

    OfficeTalk users create personal profiles, 'follow' other users, and the Twitter conventions of mentions and tags seem to be present as well.  Microsoft has also built in the ability to see threaded conversations and to shorten URLs in updates.

    On the surface the features of OfficeTalk are entirely familiar, and even a bit pedestrian.  Yammer and other similar services like Socialcast and Obayoo have been out for quite some time now offering all of these features and more.

    But none of the existing players in enterprise microblogging can compare to the reach, familiarity, and development muscle of Microsoft. One can easily see the potential for Microsoft to integrate OfficeTalk into Sharepoint, Outlook, or Office, and almost immediately become the dominant player in the still very new market for enterprise microblogging.

    Whether or not Microsoft actively pursues this market, and eventually releases OfficeTalk remains to be seen, but I think the ability for the service to one day integrate with the existing installed base of MS Office, and to also be installed on-premise (still important to many IT shops), could position this kind of service as a significant and viable competitor in the enterprise microblogging space.

    Just like SAP, which is also experimenting with new forms of collaboration capabilities, (see it's recently renamed StreamWork application), Microsoft may be late to the enterprise microblogging and collaboration party, but it probably should not yet be entirely dismissed as having missed its chance to join the fun.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Hi Steve. Good info as usual. You're right, Microsoft only needs to stick it on Outlook, and they can clean up. My question though is not whether they will or won’t, nor who will win. As someone whose never used Yammer, I question the question itself.Twitter’s, What’s happening? I get. In Yammer’s case, there question is: What are you working on? I can see some value in answering this. I’ve just been on the HubCap Digital forum sharing Steve's blog about enterprise microblogging. But is this information of use to anyone I work with? I’m working on a spreadsheet. I’m working on closing a sale. I’m not working today. Are there better questions to ask? Ones that would get better, more valuable and useful answers? Say something…That seems to be OfficeTalks from the screen shots. Say something about what? For what reason? To who?

    March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Shaw

    Stuart - Thanks very much for your comments. I think you are asking great questions about the need for more context and purpose for the enterprise application of microblogging. There is also the perception of 'Why does anyone care what I am doing right now' to overcome. Perhaps if the framing question was more geared towards 'What do I need help with?' or 'What would I like to know more about?' or 'How do I find information on XYZ?', or even 'I think this is interesting....' that it would make more sense. The enterprise tools like Yammer and Socialcast also support and make easy the formation of organizational sub-groups that also help to introduce some context. If you are an engineer, then you can direct your updates to and follow only (if you choose) a core group of engineers that you work with all the time. Creating and making sure these contextual groupings are understood could be the job of the overall enterprise collaboration type role.

    March 26, 2010 | Registered CommenterSteve

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