The emerging enterprise social networking market got another lift with news today one primary contender, Yammer, has received a new $17 million funding round, bringing total capital backing to $57 million.

Yammer also announced that Ford, Southern Company, Shell, 7-11 and SuperValu are among new customers for Yammer this year.

The fourth and latest round of funding was led by former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya's new fund, Social+Capital Partnership, and supported by previous investors Charles River Ventures, Emergence Capital and U.S. Venture Partners. Palihapitiya will take an observer's seat on Yammer's board of directors.

The enterprise social technology market is part of the broader social networking phenomenon, where products like Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, Jive and CubeTree are building corporate equivalents of Twitter or social sites like Facebook. Yammer offers social feeds, polling, groups and profiles common to such sites and has more lately added alerts, topical workspaces, desktop and mobile applications.

A Saugatuck Technology study conducted with Information Management and released last month found that the top business goals of social business technology include knowledge building/sharing, improving collaboration between employees and supporting marketing initiatives and activities.

The survey uncovered that Web conferencing, document collaboration and public social media are more in use now than are enterprise social networks. Saugatuck distinguished analyst Mike West says that social maturity for corporate users will arrive over time with real effect on working processes. "Those that build collaborative social networks are the most potentially profound in terms of their impact, and clearly, they will marginalize the former use of email as a workflow driver," West says.

Forrester Research senior analyst Rob Koplowitz says a little more than half of U.S. companies will do something with enterprise social media this year and that the trend is real, accelerating and deal sizes are growing. ,"It's not email yet, but it's definitely a fast moving, disruptive technology," the analyst says.

Koplowitz see three phases of adoption that start with experimentation for cultural fit and business usefulness and move onto piloting point solutions for specific areas like pre-sales.  

"From there you move to think about policy, governance, all the diligence," Koplowitz says. "It's not rocket science but it's work to be done." Finally and down the road for most, enterprises will look at how enterprise social media can integrate with authentication systems and adjacent technologies in areas like content management.

Yammer claims it has been adopted by more than 100,000 businesses in 160 countries. The company says the funding will be used in part to expand operations in San Francisco, London and Melbourne to meet rapidly growing demand.

Other principals involved in Yammer include Facebook founding president Sean Parker and Peter Thiel, the first investor in both Facebook and Yammer.

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