Thursday, December 09, 2010

Australia is the second largest government user of Yammer - over 110 active networks

There's recently been some controversy in Australian government over the use of Yammer, a private and secure enterprise social network, which I discussed in my post, The ongoing struggles to balance IT security and staff empowerment.

I asked Simon Spencer, Yammer's newly appointed Asia-Pacific General Manager, how many government agencies in Australia were using Yammer.

I was expecting him to answer maybe 30-40 agencies.

He told me that, counting state and federal government, there were at least 110 Australian agencies now using Yammer - with a total of around 13,000 users.

I was surprised, I hadn't expected that much adoption.

However I was even more surprised when he gave me the global figures on take-up.

Simon said that Australia represents 29% of all government networks using Yammer. The US represents 33% and the UK about 26%. The rest of the world accounts for the other 12%.

I checked this with Simon three times and yes, it was correct. Despite our relatively small population, Australia as a nation is the second largest government user of Yammer in the world.

I was quite surprised. While I knew the NSW, Vic and QLD governments were all rapidly adopting Yammer, I had no idea that so many public sector organisations had found the service useful.

Admittedly Yammer is no newcomer. The company counts over 90,000 organisations as its customers across about 130 countries (Yammer now supports 94 languages). Around 80% of the Fortune 500 companies now use the service.

However for Australia to be the second largest government adopter of the service suggests there's a few things going on under the hood.

Firstly, this indicates to me that we're earlier adopters of social media tools in enterprise environments than I had expected. Speaking to Simon, he believes that Australia has adopted social media much faster than other countries, including within organisational networks. He said that he believes that Australia is on the leading edge of collaboration and use of social media.

Secondly the figures suggest to me that Australian public servants are seeking to use the tools they find productive in their personal lives.

Finally, given the example in my last post and other examples brought to my attention by staff at other agencies, it suggests to me that senior management and ICT are finding it challenging to meet their staff's needs within current infrastructure and policy settings.

ICT teams are finding that more and more of their effort and money is spent on maintaining ageing mainframes and legacy systems. This leaves less and less of their capacity available to discover, assess and implement productivity saving tools.

Equally senior managers are busy keeping Web 1.0 informational websites running effectively and managing all the other responsibilities of their jobs. They are struggling to find the time to research, understand and grasp the opportunities of Web 2.0

The Yammer example indicates to me that many public service knowledge workers want to keep improving their performance and agency productivity.

Clearly they aren't sitting back and waiting until ICT or senior managers are able to assess whether staff could be more productive with a particular tool. Public servants are going out and finding the tools themselves.

Want to learn more about Yammer?
Ross Hill's post Watching a Yammer network explode, is an excellent place to start.

I also recommend the following post and video from Deloittes following up Ross's post, How to keep a Yammer network exploding.

12 comments:

  1. NSW DET staff using Yammer approaches 10 000.

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  2. Thanks for this considered article; I think it adds to the discussion regarding the use of 'Enterprise' social media within the Government and Gov2.0 context. Yammer has seen huge growth in the US, Europe and across the Asia Pacific region, with a large part of this APAC growth coming from Australia (and to a lesser but significant degree NZ as well). Internal social media within the government context can dramatically enhance how we can securely collaborate, drive agility, inspire, share, build engagement as well as discover information, expertise & insight that we might not normally have stumbled across using more traditional knowledge management tools.

    ‘Agility’ is not just a buzzword owned by the corporate sector, its a transformational driver and agenda to promote flexibility & efficient return on investment and probably no field gets more attention in how it spends money, resource and time than the government sector. The business case for Social Media based collaboration is made even more compelling when where the silos, barriers and structures are as complex as those typically found in government departments.

    I look forward to participating in the continuing debate here, Yammer as a platform has been evaluated many times in depth by Banks, Education institutions, Research Groups, Insurance companies and by Governments who have found it to be a scalable, secure and valuable tool that provides a controlled environment to get people talking, sharing information and delivering great value.

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  3. Thanks for this considered article; I think it adds to the discussion regarding the use of 'Enterprise' social media within the Government and Gov2.0 context. Yammer has seen huge growth in the US, Europe and across the Asia Pacific region, with a large part of this APAC growth coming from Australia (and to a lesser but significant degree NZ as well). Internal social media within the government context can dramatically enhance how we can securely collaborate, drive agility, inspire, share, build engagement as well as discover information, expertise & insight that we might not normally have stumbled across using more traditional knowledge management tools.

    ‘Agility’ is not just a buzzword owned by the corporate sector, its a transformational driver and agenda to promote flexibility & efficient return on investment and probably no field gets more attention in how it spends money, resource and time than the government sector. The business case for Social Media based collaboration is made even more compelling when where the silos, barriers and structures are as complex as those typically found in government departments.

    I look forward to participating in the continuing debate here, Yammer as a platform has been evaluated many times in depth by Banks, Education institutions, Research Groups, Insurance companies and by Governments who have found it to be a scalable, secure and valuable tool that provides a controlled environment to get people talking, sharing information and delivering great value.

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  4. So the other 109 Australian departments have the other 3,000 members?

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  5. Stu: Actually no.. just ran through the numbers again, and we were just picking up .Gov or .Govt.. so in the analysis we did for Craig we have actually left out the .edu So actually the Government numbers (if you include education institutions are actually SIGNIFICANTLY higher and the numbers in Craigs story just cover .govt or .gov domains.

    Thanks guys for picking this up..I have only been with Yammer a short while but definitely exciting place to be. Simon.

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  6. You could add abc.net.au to your numbers as well Simon...

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  7. Yammer is present in the Victorian Government, but usage can be best described as heading into the "Trough of Disillusionment".

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  8. Craig - for a while now I've been singing Headshift's mantra about the need for government to be social on the inside, if they want to be social on the outside. These statistics that point to the bottom-up adoption of Yammer really highlight the demand to collaborate internally that exists in the public service and shows that public servants will experiment with new social technologies if they are given the chance.

    BTW the National Library of Australia wrote about using Yammer here a few months ago http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/gateways/issues/107/Yammer.html

    Also, if you haven't seen this before its all well worth reading about CPA Australia's experiences with Yammer http://zaanahoward.com/2010/02/09/enterprise-microblogging-part-1-a-love-story/

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  9. Having traveled quite a bit this year I would say that Australia has a really awesome position right now in this space. The general openness of the culture means we're willing to have a look at something new, and if everyone holds that openness a little in an organisation it means we can finally take advantage of simple and useful cloud based apps.

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  10. Yammer being dropped by many in Govt. "Trough of Disillusionment" is a polite description. Yammer not secure enough for government use. Data recovery/backup or download poor or hard to get.

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  11. It is yet another distraction and timesink for lazy timewasters who are interested in doing as little as possible, getting paid as much as possible for doing very little. It does however provide these dolts with an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot and get fired by making ridiculous posts and thinking they can behave any old way they like because it is 'social networking'. Any Government agency is deluding itself in thinking otherwise - staff will just use this to gossip and waste time, anything other than doing their actual job.

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