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 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, generally deep within organisations without significant senior managerial awareness or oversight, I had no idea that so many public sector organisations at Commonwealth and local levels had also 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).
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 some 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.
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 know 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.

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