Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Yammer Adds SAP to the List of Business Software It Supports

Social enterprise start-up Yammer will announce today that its service now works with software giant SAP’s main software for running businesses.

The move is the latest by Yammer to integrate with other third-party software. Last year, Yammer raised eyebrows a bit by integrating’s competing Chatter social enterprise service into its own software. Later, it integrated and a batch of other services, like Microsoft SharePoint and NetSuite.

Yammer didn’t work directly with SAP on the integration but instead turned to an SAP developer called Freeborders to build a plugin that companies using SAP can install into Yammer. They call it the Yammer SAP Connector.

SAP’s main business is around Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP software, which companies use to plan and operate their business. In SAP’s case, ERP is run as old-school, on-premise software rather than in the cloud as a software-as-service approach. SAP rival NetSuite sells its ERP software in the cloud.

The big deal about social enterprise software — which includes not only Yammer, but the recently IPOed Jive Software, Salesforce’s Chatter, and VMware’s Socialcast — is that collaboration across a department, a division, an entire company, or between a company and outside partners can be as easy as the social experience on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a big craze in enterprise software circles right now, spurred in part by overflowing and inefficient email in-boxes, and the Facebook generation entering the workforce.

I talked with Yammer CEO David Sacks about this yesterday, and he told me that one important aspect of the plugin is that it adds a “follow” button to SAP. So, if you’re an SAP user inside a particular company, you can follow a piece of data or a project or an event in SAP as readily as making a friend in Facebook.

The Connector plugin sends events from SAP to the Yammer ticker, which looks suspiciously like a Facebook activity stream. If something important to you happens in SAP, you’ll see it in Yammer first, and a link will take you directly to the SAP record.

SAP isn’t the only product being integrated into Yammer today. Yammer added five others: GageIn, a business content aggregation platform; Kindling, which bills itself as an ideation company; Moreover Technologies, a media monitoring concern; Planview, a portfolio management product; and SparqLight, which is used to manage workflow in the cloud.

By my count, that makes 15 different services that work with Yammer. The next logical one, on my scorecard, is Oracle. I asked Sacks about that. “It’s definitely on the road map,” he said. Yammer’s strategy is essentially to be a “social Switzerland” that works with all the important business software, whether it runs in the cloud or on-premise. “We’re not going to be beholden to any one technology,” Sacks told me. “We want to be the social layer that lays on top of all the important enterprise applications.”

Whatever Yammer is doing, it appears to be working. It finished 2011 with more than four million end users at 200,000 companies, and late last year it lured a key senior executive away from Salesforce. It is also said to be close to landing a $50 million investment, at an implied valuation variously reported to be between $500 million and $1 billion.

Sacks had nothing to say on the subject of raising money. Last year, Yammer raised $17 million from Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social+Capital Partnership; in 2010, it raised two rounds, a $25 million Series C led by US Venture Partners, and a $10 million B round led by Emergence Capital. But something tells me this is going to be a big year for Yammer.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google