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Spigit Introduces Freemium Product, Linked To Yammer

Idea generation and cultivation tool adds Yammer integration, aims for larger audience with free Icon version.
Part of Spigit's deal with Yammer is to position itself as a natural addition to the enterprise social network, right at the moment that Yammer is nixing its own ideation product.

Yammer VP of product James Patterson said the company is discontinuing the Ideas application it had in beta for the past year. "A small handful of companies actually turned that on, so we decided to phase that out for lack of adoption," he said. Yammer's ambition is to be "the social layer across all business apps," not necessarily to build a lot of the underlying applications itself, he said. Instead, it offers its customers lightweight apps for functions like content management while also striving to link to established enterprise content management systems, he said. In the case of idea management, the Yammer Ideas app turned out to be a little too lightweight.

The company recognized it would have to add a lot more features to make Yammer Ideas useful, Patterson said, "and it basically became too complicated--we decided we didn't want to go down that path."

Spigit is a major partner, but the relationship is not exclusive, Patterson said. Yammer also partners with competing players like Brightidea. Yammer wants to build a symbiotic relationship with all its integration partners like the one between Facebook and Zynga, where Facebook "provides the platform that makes social gaming even possible" while Zynga provides the games themselves, Patterson said. "If other companies are building their engagement layer on top of us, it increases the value of Yammer."

Meanwhile, Spigit saw an opportunity to build on an established partnership with Yammer. "Yammer is very clear about what business it's in, and at the same time Yammer wanted to partner with us on ideation. We're very excited about that. Also, we decided to make this free until you want control, which is directly compatible with Yammer's model," he said.

Icon is mimicking a Yammer strategy that draws objections from some IT managers who see the freemium model as a trap for luring in users into an unsanctioned collaboration environment. It's also celebrated by organizations like the SuperValu grocery chain, which used its initial ad hoc deployments as a proof of concept for what has since become a corporate standard.

"Icon's model, like Yammer's before it, is somewhat disruptive to the command and control that's traditionally been quite a big part of large technology shops," Gardner acknowledged in an email follow-up. "We think Yammer and the 'bring your own device' movement have educated traditionalist technologists to the benefits of these kinds of tools. They are the sorts of tools that are very hard to justify from a business case perspective before they're up and running, but quite invaluable once they are. Our hope is that we will be able to strike the right balance between functionality and control so that both sides will have a lot to gain."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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