Yammer at Penn State

About one year ago I started negotiating with Yammer to bring the enterprise edition to Penn State. In the past year we have had a Yammer implementation team working to make that a reality. I met with the project manager, Heather Huntsinger, this morning in our monthly update meeting and we had a very interesting discussion. One of the things she asked was now that we are winding down on the implementation phase, how do we move this into the “product” phase … essentially closing out one project and starting another one that looks at Yammer as a product/service going forward. A great question and one that made me step back and look at the service in general … are people adopting the platform? Who is using it? How are they using it? Are things trending in the right direction? Having access to both the Yammer analytics and our own Data Warehouse allowed us to get a sense of where all this is heading.

The first thing I will mention is that Yammer has significantly changed my workflow and communication approaches. Within TLT, we make very heavy use of Yammer for ongoing discussion. In the past year we have moved nearly all of our organizational conversations to a series of private and open Yammer groups. TLT is made up of several units, each with its own proviate Yammer group so those local units can have conversations. There is a larger TLT private group for larger conversation and we have a TLT Leadership Team private group for ongoing strategy and operational conversations. I even have private groups that are just for my direct reports. In the end I have eliminated hundreds of daily emails for myself and am able to stay on top of so much more in a much more streamlined way.

But this is more about who is using Yammer at Penn State — I was shocked at what the team was able to discover. The data is about a week or two old, so the numbers are a bit lower than the total user count as of today, 4,695. People use their Penn State user ID to log in, so we can look at various attributes by mashing that data against what we know of people via data warehouse … based on what we pulled, there are 4420 user IDs in the Yammer user list. Taking out 62 unknown users, we retrieved information of 4358 users from Penn State Data Warehouse. Among these users, 481 of them (11%) are faculty members, 1948 of them (45%) are staff members and 1929 of them (44%) are student members. What blew my mind was the student number … I expected staff to be another 2,000 and have students be about 500, but that is not the case.

Yammer Users

It gets more interesting as you look across the Penn State system — remember we have 24 campuses across the state of Pennsylvania. There are 2970 users from what many people used to refer to as our main campus, University Park. Among them, 325 users (11%) are faculty members, 1687 of them (57%) are staff members and 958 of them (32%) are students. There are 1386 users from other campuses. Among them, 156 users (11%) are faculty members, 259 of them (19%) are staff members and 971 of them (70%) are students. For example, there are 271 student users from World Campus.

UP Users

Other Campuses

What is striking to me is how differently the user base is at University Park and the Campuses. At campuses, about 70% of the users are students versus 32% at University Park. And the difference in staff use is staggering to me. The next set of questions need to address what are driving these differences and what is going on differently here at UP versus across the Commonwealth.

8 thoughts on “Yammer at Penn State

  1. Very interesting to see those differences. Since World Campus students are more likely to be employed adults, I wonder how many of them are a part of a workplace Yammer environment.

    Also, do you know if World Campus staff were counted as World Campus or University Park? That, plus the critical mass of IT staff at University Park may account for a large portion of the differences. The campus adoption is actually much higher than I had expected.

    • Jeroen … we’ve spent quite a bit of time working to make yammer a part of the communications culture — especially in TLT. It has been a purposeful attempt to move conversations. I don’t think there is anything specifically interesting about the technology itself as there are many tools that do the same types of things — what I think has made the difference has been the push to use it as a platform for community.

      • Thanks for the explanation Cole. I was thinking you might have had some specific approach to introducing the tool. I am not a great believer of the ‘if you build it they will come’ approach. It is not in my direct sphere of influence to do much about this one 🙂

  2. Cole. Do you have the trend data so we can see expected growth? And have you cut the data the “other way.” What % of staff of faculty and of students are using Yammer

  3. Cole, Yammer has been a transformative technology among those adopting Yammer at psu. Yet, it is slow to roll out among the entire community, as are many technologies. Trick is to diffuse. Recommend that be next phase: diffusion/adoption.

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