"Most of our traction is in large companies. That's where we are effecting the biggest change," says Adam Pisoni, co-founder and CTO of Yammer. "Companies are coming to Yammer realizing that social media like Facebook and Twitter are a new forum...but companies want a secure and private forum."
Like Facebook, Yammer offers real-time and mobile communications. Users can create profiles, write blogs, self-organize into groups, share documents and engage in instant messaging. Yammer conversations are archived and searchable.
Nationwide Insurance has 15,000 employees on Yammer, which it deployed nearly three years ago. The Yammer service has fostered 320,000 connections between Nationwide employees, and the resulting conversations have been searched more than 2,000 times. All of this collaboration is happening without the intervention of Nationwide's IT department, which doesn't need to do software installation, maintenance or training because Yammer is a cloud-based service.
"The reason why this is happening right now is particularly because of the economic downturn," Pisoni says. "Companies are realizing they need to do more to stay competitive. They need to leverage the knowledge of their employees better...They need to leverage new technology better."
Yammer has raised $57 million in venture financing, including $17 million in September from a fund led by a former Facebook executive.
"This year has been a really, really big year for enterprise social networking," Pisoni says. "We're spending less time trying to convince companies of the value of social; they're coming to us knowing the value of social now and how it...improves the transparency within their organizations....The big change is the increased hunger companies have to solve the problems that we help solve."
At Red Robin, Yammer is replacing SharePoint portals, e-mail and instant messaging as the favored way for regional directors to communicate with each other and with staff in the home office. Begun as a pilot project 10 months ago, the Red Robin Yammer Network has nearly 300 users and is growing virally.