HipChat vs. Yammer and Office 365

    When it comes to business communication tools Yammer and HipChat rank as some of the most widely used. HipChat is an online service that offers a chat and text messaging platform that runs internal to a business. Yammer is an enterprise level social network used for content, business data sharing, and conversations in a central location. Yammer was founded in 2008 and acquired by Microsoft in 2012 as part of their Office Division. This review examines both of these business collaboration tools and how they compare with each other.

    HipChat HipChat allows your correspondence to remain private however you can allow others to publically join a conversation. You can browse through the history of your chats to find information you need as well as share photos with an easy drag and drop function. HipChat supports Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows, and more.

    The chat rooms are designed to enable everyone’s ideas to flow freely so teams and departments can collaborate on the same subject without missing anything. You can still select others you wish to communicate with and you don’t have to send messages to everyone at the same time. You can select who receives the message and when they receive it.

    Another great feature about HipChat, other than the openness and ease of communications, is the security and utility it offers for group chats and file sharing. HipChat uses 256 bit SSL encryption when transmitting data. HipChat is hosted on Amazon Web Services servers which has its own high security network settings.

    You can also video chat with individuals or groups in a HipChat environment. This eliminates some of the need to have conference rooms or scheduled teleconferences. If a team is generating speed in a group chat they can easily take it to a video chat to further discuss it without leaving their workstation. This makes things convenient for team members who may be traveling or in another office.

    HipChat Basic is free for basic group chat, instant messaging, and file sharing for unlimited users. HipChat Plus is $2 per user per month and includes additional features such as video chat, screen sharing, and file sharing. With the paid subscription you also get to save chat history, an unlimited amount of file storage (compared to 5GB with Basic), and an unlimited searchable message history. You can only search through the last 25,000 messages with the basic plan which may not sound like a lot now, however, when your employees start getting chatty that number is very small. There is no service contract with HipChat and you can cancel your subscription at any time. If you wish to pay for a yearly subscription you can contact HipChat and they can accommodate you.

    Yammer Yammer is another business collaboration tool that enables everyone in a company to exchange thoughts and ideas through a virtual interactive social workplace. Yammer is great for geographically displaced employees, whether they are across the room or across the world. Yammer can be accessed through a web browser on virtually any desktop or mobile device to allow workplace collaboration. Since it is a Microsoft owned application it can easily be integrated with many systems and software applications.

    You can share files and host video chats with Yammer just like with HipChat. If you are familiar with Facebook and Twitter you can easily pick up the ease of use of Yammer as it has a similar social network interface. You can send messages to individuals or groups, share links and images, and upload files for sharing. You can create a company directory so employees can easily find each other. Yammer is HIPPA certified so it is friendly to those in the medical industry.

    As previously mentioned you can integrate Yammer with other apps to build your own powerful business collaboration solution. Yammer can integrate with SharePoint and the add-on Desktop Notifier sends desktop notifications to you even when you don’t have the app opened. The level of integration Yammer provides makes for instant communication and collaboration when you need it.

    Yammer Basic is free and includes file sharing and mobile access. If you are already an Office 365 customer you may be entitled to upgrade to a Yammer Enterprise plan since it is sold with select Office 365 plans. Depending on your Office 365 plan you may already have access to use it. As a standalone product, Yammer Enterprise costs $3 per user per month. Yammer requires an annual commitment as part of the Office 365 family. If you choose to purchase Yammer as a standalone product you still receive an Office 365 account for billing and license information.

    While it seems that on the surface HipChat may have more features, Yammer is powered by Microsoft so many of the additional features HipChat may appear to have, comes built in with your subscription to Office 365. Since Yammer is already bundled with certain Office 365 packages, you may already have access to Yammer so it may not make sense to purchase another business collaboration tool. You can activate Yammer Enterprise through the Office 365 Admin Portal if you have a Yammer entitled Office 365 plan.

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