I have come across many situations where clients are unclear about which “social” situations are best aligned to different technical offerings from Microsoft.

One key challenge is that each product team appears to compete for influence with the rest without a cohesive vision as to where everyone fits.

If Microsoft can’t come up with a united front – it’s a tough ask for everyone else to know which strategic direction to take.

Yammer itself is a brilliant tool, but (I assume) due to this being spawned from its own company being assimilated into the wider Microsoft stack you would not be mistaken for thinking there were competitive interests at play when asking either Microsoft or “Yammer” (Microsoft) about the right tool for the job.

The Microsoft acquisition of Yammer reminds me a little of this:


Lync is not isolated from these conversations although there is a much clearer market position.

Political jockeying aside, there is a technical overlap between Lync, Yammer, and SharePoint.

The key fact is that depending on your use case, there is no right or wrong solution – it’s about identifying what combination works for you.

From my perspective it’s all about the boundary points.  Everyone has slightly different perspectives on where their boundary is within the overlap areas – this all comes down to governance and where users should be guided down one path or the other.

For me, there are some high level areas where each product intersects into its adjoining sibling.  Couple with this is a natural progression between products:

Lync -> Yammer -> SharePoint

In a perfect world, it all starts with Lync.

With Lync you have the ad-hoc and make 1:1 communication with a colleague.  If you are constrained by compliance and have to keep everything on premises then you have persistent chat (instead of Yammer) and the journey stops here.

With Microsoft adopting a gamification approach to collection security and compliance badges, Yammer becomes a more viable option for many organisations who see the benefits of introducing a more social experience into their organisation.  It is not hard to see the motivation from Microsoft pushing Yammer aggressively (now that it is confirmed as the default “SharePoint” social platform moving forwards with the new Microsoft objective of “Work like a network”).

Finally you have SharePoint for the formal side of things – this is where the most confusion comes between Yammer and SharePoint.  Yammer enables files to be uploaded so why use SharePoint?  Simple.  SharePoint is an enterprise level document management system that offers rich search and version control to name a few key features.

I have summarised my view on where this all fits together:


The most important take away is that there is overlap between technologies as your travel right towards SharePoint.  Each organisation will need to decide which way to fall when overlap occurs.  Of course it’s not an exact science and needs to be left to the subjectivity of end users albeit with governance and guidance to help them along the way.

The worst thing you can do is ignore one particular technology because of the perceived overlap.  You can hopefully draw your own example use case in addition to my example above.  Each technology pillar has its own place – well defined for ~80% of its purpose but ~20% blurry to give adaptability to end users.  Inspiration should be fluid and not constrained by hard barriers between technologies.

5 thoughts on “Lync vs Yammer vs SharePoint”

  1. Really helpful breakdown – curious if you’ve given any thought to SharePoint vs. OneDrive for Business and how that overlaps as well?

    1. Thanks for the feedback! – to be honest OneDrive for Business is really a synchronisation sub set of SharePoint. Your “OneDrive” is simply what used to be your mysite and your standard SharePoint document libraries can be synchronised with OneDrive for Business.

      When using OneDrive for Business, you need to be mindful about what impact this will have on your metadata that you may be gathering within SharePoint itself. Have a peek at this write-up as it may be relevant: http://timwalwyn.com/2014/04/08/folders-are-back/

  2. I was thinking the same thing about OneDrive vs SharePoint. The 2 (conflicting) factors I see is 1) OneDrive is more intuitive and integrated into your PC so it’s easier, but 2) whether from design or bugs, sharing and syncing with OneDrive has been problematic.

    Although OneDrive Business is based off SharePoint (and hence the incompatibility between personal OneDrive and Business OneDrive), it isn’t directly intertwined. I.e., you can’t use one and switch to the other easily for existing files. You can sync SharePoint files like OneDrive (but only with internal users), and I’ve had some of the same syncing glitches as with OneDrive.

    Because of the bugs, I’ve found OneDrive best suited for personal (within my business) use with occasional sharing, and actual collaboration and ongoing/massive file shares going through SharePoint. Of course, then you take a bit of a hit on convenience and efficiency with logins and slower site functionality, but that has at least made the most logical sense for our company.

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