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External Messaging: Yammer’s latest innovation in breaking down silos.

There are a number of business benefits to organisations wishing to deploy and leverage an enterprise social network such as Yammer. One of which is reducing silos across the organisation to improve collaboration, communication and team work amongst cross-functional teams and geographies. Yammer have made significant developments to improve team collaboration internally and externally through deeper integrations across Office Apps, translate features and external networks. 

Until now there has been a seamless experience internally between teams where colleagues are able to come together in a secure environment to share content and ideas effectively to become more responsive organisations. However Yammer’s latest innovation, External Messaging (internally known at Microsoft as Flexternal) brings collaboration between two organisations even closer together. In laymen’s terms you will be able to collaborate with suppliers, customers, vendors or partners by adding them to participate in a specific conversation in your home Yammer Network. 

A few weeks ago I was on the receiving end of probably the longest email thread with an external supplier who was looking for someone to speak at event he was running. There were back and forth emails about the event, who was attending, the adjustments to the agenda, introductions to other speakers to make sure there wasn’t too much content cross over, etc etc., you get the idea. It was painful - something not too dissimilar to the video below. 

When to use External Messaging will depend on a number of different considerations; such as the urgency and sensitivity of the communications, Enterprise Social maturity and Social Governance. External Messaging certainly has its place within the organisation and adds an added convenience between participants who are using Yammer. The diagram below provides some clarity on where to use External Messaging. 


1.       In the CC Line add the external collaborators, by adding their email address (see red arrow). 

2.       The external collaborator will receive a notification in their Yammer Inbox (or email, depending on their notifications) and it will appear to the receiver as if it were a private message. 

3.       The message will only be visible to the receiver in their inbox and the message will not appear in the receivers all company feed or to anyone else outside of those who are not included on the message thread. 

4.       There are a number of indicators to make conversation participants aware that their thread starters, or replies include external participants (see red circles in the screen shot above). 

Microsoft have made significant improvements to the UI, expanded the data exporting for Verified Admins and added Exchange transport rules (ETR’s) to this capability and it’s likely that additions will mature in time. Since using External Messaging the biggest limitations that I’ve seen so far occurs when users who are invited to take part in a conversation are unable to share back documentation in the thread. However I understand that this is being worked on by the engineering teams. 

Ultimately the organisational ESN maturity will dictate whether or not this is a feature that will work for you, depending on the culture, controls, governance and filter mechanisms internally. That being said, similar concerns were raised with the introduction of emails. 

Where do you see External Messaging adding value to your organisation? Do you have any concerns and how will you mitigate these? How will External Messaging, impact your IT and Social Governance? 

Tweet @Steve_Crompton for more information on External Messaging or support around Social Governance for Enterprise Social and Office 365.