One of the consequences of Yammer's freemium model is that any employee can create a cloud-hosted enterprise social network by providing a corporate email address. Other employees from the same Internet domain who join Yammer are then added to the same enterprise social network – and can begin collaborating about work issues, often without the knowledge of management or corporate IT.
Yammer's policy is to treat users who sign up individually as a collection of individuals, only granting administrative rights to the organization if it signs up as a paying customer.
Organizations can respond to this one of three ways:
-- Embracing the initiative of employees and making the unofficial social network an official platform for collaboration, as at companies like SuperValu.
-- Ignore or tolerate it as harmless. The UBM TechWeb example shown here was set up by employees experimenting with the platform, but it gets little use because we use Jive internally.
-- Go ballistic. Although Yammer customer service isn't quick to volunteer this information, it's possible to get one of these networks shut down with a stern letter from a lawyer citing a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because employees posted confidential information without permission.
Will Microsoft institute a more IT-friendly policy? Can it do so without choking off the viral growth that made Yammer attractive in the first place?