NAB deploys Chatter … and Yammer?


blog From’s Dreamforce conference in the US this week comes the news that the National Australia Bank has deployed the company’s internal social networking tool Chatter. This in itself isn’t that unusual, although the move does represent substantial Australian verification of this portion of’s corporate social networking strategy.

But the part which we were quite fascinated with was the fact that the bank was already using the Twitter-like corporate social networking tool Yammer. Now, with the tool added on, a number of the bank’s employees are running both. NAB asset manager Dean Puhalovich (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Puhalovich noted that NAB’s 40,000-person retail banking division already used Yammer but “we still wanted Chatter out there”.”

Now, from a certain perspective, this move makes sense. Yammer is basically designed to be a secure, enterprise version of Twitter, that can run behind the firewall and allow the kind of constant loose connection and dialogue between corporate users that Twitter has been so successful at in the public sphere.

In comparison, Chatter is less of an independent social network and more of an add-on to and other tools. It lets people subscribe to updates to anything that’s being updated on internal corporate apps. Want to know when someone else in your sales team touches base with a client who you also deal with? That’s Chatter. Want to give your broader organisation insights into what you’re working on, to help spread corporate knowledge? That’s Yammer.

It does make your writer wonder, however, whether all of this corporate social networking stuff is getting a bit overkill. I mean, how many internal status message updates can one corporate employee handle before they start to go a bit nuts? I guess we’ll find out over the next few years. My prediction is that not all of these platforms will survive — or at least they’ll become much more integrated with each other, so that each employee doesn’t have half a dozen “social” dashboards to log in to every morning … plus their email, voicemail, instant messages and so on. At some point, actual work has to be done as well, in between all the social “work”.

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  1. Yammer isn’t “behind a firewall” – it’s out on the internet just like Twitter. I can see why Yammer is dropping a few customers though – the new licensing model is quite a lot more than the original honeymoon deals.

    Anyway, you’re right about needing some kind of aggregation dashboard for all the channels. I reckon they’ll be building that into Outlook etc.

    • Well, technically it is behind a firewall — you can’t access content on a corporation’s Yammer domain unless you have an email address with that corporation. And even then, there can be controls around it. Yammer is not on the public Internet.

  2. Someone I know at NAB also has an instant messenger (though; I haven’t taken the time to ask what it is called! – they refer to it as SameTime (I think).

    Sounds a lot like IRC (channels, priv messages etc). I’ve always found IRC-like communication (but with persistent buffers, screen etc) to be really helpful when working in teams of disparate people.

  3. “Working is talking. Everything else you do at your job is just preparation for that.”

  4. I don’t know if its necessarily overkill to have different tools. My impression with NAB is that Yammer is being used as a non-mandated tool for employee engagement, rather than to support business operations or specific business process. Chatter appears to have been deployed quite differently and within a specific division.

    Talking more generally, one of the misconceptions appears to be – particularly from those who haven’t used Yammer, Chatter, etc – is that they are just private versions of Twitter. That’s a good starting point but other than some core features in common the enterprise platforms are quite different. For example, Twitter doesn’t support groups but its common to enterprise solutions. There are also platforms that support activity streams but aren’t microblogging centric.

    There is also interest in creating dashboards, integrating with the inbox and aggregating activity streams from different networks and system. Where companies decide to implement them in a smart way is of course up to them.

  5. For me it doesn’t make sense, but looks more like a lack of planning. Chatter could be used in the same way for the sales discussion as for the internal discussion part. Given the functionality is so similar two separate solutions doesn’t make sense and will only create strange silos in the future.

  6. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. NAB is a big organisation – their wholesale division is smaller and would operate differently from retail banking. Also, business units within NAB may have autonomy over systems and architecture.

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