Microsoft Retires Yammer Brand, Google Ups Its Workspace Prices, More News
Microsoft is finally putting Yammer to rest. The company announced this week it was retiring the Yammer name and officially rebranding it to Viva Engage. The surprise here isn't that it's happening, but that it took so long for Microsoft to do so.
Since Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012, it has made a few unsuccessful attempts — and half-hearted attempts at that — to find a place for the community building tool in its ever-burgeoning portfolio of workplace tools. And with every new tool introduced, notably Teams and then more recently, the Viva platform, confusion grew around which tool to use when.
Yammer and Viva chief vice president Murali Sitaram explained the decision in a blog post: "Six months ago, we took the first step to rebrand the Yammer Communities app for Teams to Viva Engage, to align Yammer more closely with our Viva suite of employee experiences. Since then, we have continued to add new functionality to both Viva Engage and the Yammer apps including storyline."
He continued: “Over the last several months we’ve heard your feedback that having two apps surfacing similar experiences and the same services and content has introduced confusion and made it challenging to drive adoption and create clarity for end users.”
He added that over the next year, Yammer experiences will be rebranded as part of Viva and will become a “pillar” of the platform. The blog also offered assurances that the current capabilities and pricing will be maintained for existing Microsoft 365 customers and/or Microsoft 365 SKUs.
Viva Engage is one of the latest additions to Microsoft’s Viva employee-experience platform. Microsoft describes it as a social-community app with its roots in the Communities app for Teams.
As part of the Yammer news, Microsoft also announced new upgrades to Engage. The new functionalities, first announced in September 2022 and now generally available, include:
- Storyline Announcements for leaders
- Leadership Corner for employees
- Ask Me Anything Events
- Social Media #Campaigns
- Advanced Analytics
- Answers in Viva
While Microsoft is flagging this move as a rebrand, what it really does is to push Viva deeper into the Microsoft productivity environment as it quietly shelves Yammer. We'll be digging deeper into this next week.
Microsoft, Adobe Deepen Partnerships Around Edge and PDFs
Before leaving Microsoft this week, one other release worth a mention is the latest news out of its partnership with San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe. The two companies announced what they described as the next milestone in their strategic partnership, which brings Adobe’s PDF, e-signature and document automation tools directly to 1.4 billion Windows users.
According to a joint statement from the companies, Microsoft will make Adobe's Acrobat rendering engine the driver behind the Edge browser’s built-in PDF reader, which will show the Adobe brand in all PDF images.
The Acrobat-powered Microsoft Edge will start rolling out to Windows 10 and 11 devices in March 2023. Organizations will then be able to choose to “opt-in" or "opt-out" of the functinoality for managed devices via Microsoft's Intune policy.
The existing Microsoft Edge PDF solution is scheduled to disappear in March 2024.
Adobe’s Acrobat has been the global standard for creating, editing and managing PDFs for nearly three decades. With this move, Edge will deliver a PDF experience that includes higher fidelity for more accurate colors and graphics, improved performance, strong security for PDF handling and greater accessibility.
This is just the latest in a long line of joint announcements between the two. Last year, they released enterprise-focused integrations across Adobe Document Cloud and Microsoft Teams, including Adobe Sign in the Teams Approvals app.
Google Increases Workspace Prices
Eggs, energy, mortgages and now ... Google Workspace and Google Cloud Services. Google this week announced price increases for Google Workspace and Google Cloud Services.
According to Google, the overall change in prices structure is designed to offer customers better choices and cost flexibility.
In reality, it means increases in the cost of Google Workspace’s Flexible Plan subscriptions for Business Starter, Business Standard and Business Plus editions.
“We’re announcing a few updates to our pricing to reflect the value in our products, alongside expanded commitment options to lock in the lowest pricing, providing our customers with more choice,” wrote Steve Holt, vice president of strategy for Google Workspace.
The first thing to note is that Google is introducing an annual plan for all of its Workspace editions. This is designed to give those willing to make a long-term commitment to Workspaces a better deal.
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The second change is an increase in the costs of the Flexible plans, which offer customers the option to pay as they go, as well as the possibility to add or suppress accounts as needs be.
The new pricing will see the Business Starter edition moving from $6.00 user/month to $7.20 user/month; the Business Standard Edition moving from $12.00 user/month to $14.40 user/month and the Business Plus edition from $18.00 user/month to $21.60 user/month. The annual plans will cost $6, $12 and $18 respectively.
Holt added that they are also increasing the price of Google Workspace Enterprise Standard "to reflect the value we’ve added to the edition, including industry-leading security controls and administrative features designed for large enterprises." This includes more than 300 upgrades in 2022 alone, he wrote.
Last year Microsoft announced similar price increases for its cloud offerings so it is unlikely to do raise them again this year. Even with Google’s price increases, it remains cheaper than Microsoft.
Remote Work Continues to Build Momentum
It feels like every week a new piece of research comes out that confirms the importance of remote or hybrid work models for long-term employee satisfaction.
However, few surveys chart the growth of these work models, which is what Nashua, NH-based Akumina attempted to do in its latest survey.
The 2023 State of the Digital Workplace and Modern Intranet (registration required) found that contrary to common perception, organizations are not reverting to on-site working. In fact, the survey found that remote and hybrid work increased by 30% over this time last year.
It also has some interesting insights into what employees are looking for. In the 2022 edition, for example, 54% of respondents said their company had a hybrid/remote strategy in place. This year the corresponding figure was 84%. It also showed a 4% increase in the decision to implement these strategies at a local rather than corporate level.
More to the point, it seems like management will be forced to listen to their employees in this respect. ‘Workplace flexibility’ was the second highest priority for prospective employees. The report notes this wasn't an option, let alone a priority prior to the pandemic.
Nearly 55% of those surveyed are still looking to change jobs. However, keep in mind that the survey of over 200,000 professionals was carried out in the fall, and that the economy is in a different place now.
That said the trend towards remote work in some form is clearly growing. Employees are looking for physical, tangible changes within the workplace, particularly in respect to their intranets and how they enable communications and collaboration, the report found (take this one with a grain of salt given that Akumina is an intranet provider).
The figures provide insights into a large number of issues that managers are struggling with at the moment and while it is always possible to find exceptions in ever set of statistics, the rise in the number of employees reporting the availability of more flexible work seems overwhelming.
About the Author
David is a full-time journalist based in Ireland. A partisan of ‘green’ living and conservation, he is particularly interested in information management and how enterprise content management, analytics, big data and cloud computing impact on it.