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Yammer vs. Lync vs. HipChat

Which internal communication tool is right for you?

These days, even if you have a brick & mortar office, you and your employees have to be able to communicate and collaborate from any location and any device. Now you have far more and far better options than a simple phone call.

Yammer, Lync, and HipChat help you stay in touch and work together on projects no matter where you are, but in pretty different ways.

The benefits of services like these are plentiful. If you’re in the market for one, check out our table below for help deciding which option works best for you and your company.

Pros to All Three Cons to All Three
Keep employees connected Some features are paid-only
Foster collaboration between coworkers All have some reported compatibility & ease of use issues
Communicate in real-time  
Share & co-edit documents  
Yammer Logo Lync Logo Hipchat Logo
In Summary Private social network that connects employees, most features are free, does not include video-chat, mobile app available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Video conferencing and instant messaging software for businesses, Skype connectivity, mobile app available for iOS, Androidm and Windows phone Allows video-chatting, compatible with almost any device or OS, most features are free, program is easy to use, mobile app available for iOS and Android
Pros Real-time conversations, compatible with other apps (Github, Zendesk), file-sharing, co-editing, compatible with desktop & mobile, free to use basic package, HIPAA certified Smooth implementation, better bandwidth management, seamless integration, multi-device compatible, good price point, Lync-Skype connectivity Real-time video chat, screen sharing, complete chat history, drag-and-drop file sharing, compatible with any device or OS, secure, instant notifications, free to use basic package
Cons Ease of use issues, requires company to have their own internal email address, cost is per user for Enterprise Network, no video-chat available Bandwidth issues, complete IT evaluation required, interrupting for workforce, questionable benefits of this kind of communication, no conversation history feature, no free package Some features are paid only, cannot set notifications for selected rooms only, no SMS notifications certain issues require user to open web app, reported Mac compatibility issues
Req'd skills Basic computer skills Basic computer skills Basic computer skills
Best for Medical organizations (HIPAA compliant, ISO27001 certified) Organizations with a large number of telecommuters Smaller companies, with limited tech resources and without internal email addresses
API REST API (open) REST API (open) HTTP API (REST currently in beta)
Add-ons Yammer Applications (You can scroll down to view the App Directory) Lync Applications HipChat Integrations
Commands
  • Site wide
  • Feed
  • Site navigation
  • Messages
  • Room actions
  • Status control
  • Message formatting
Video No Yes Yes (PAID)
Pricing Basic Network: Free Enterprise Network: $3 per user/month Plan 1: $2 per user/month Plan 2: $5.50 per user/month HipChat Basic: Free HipChat Plus: $2 per user/month
Options Basic Network Enterprise Network (includes: enterprise administrative tools, network level apps & integration, services & support) Plan 1 Plan 2 (includes desktop, app, & Whiteboard sharing, multiparty [3+] sharing, meeting controls, enhanced note-taking, compatibility with third party audio conferencing, multiparty video, web app) HipChat Basic HipChat Plus (includes: 1-to-1 video chat, 1-to-1 screen sharing, history retention controls, unlimited file storage, and unlimited searchable message history)
Commands
  • Help articles
  • Community forum
  • Prioritized support for Office 365 admins & Premier customers
  • Charge for after hours support
  • In-site “Contact us” form
  • Help articles
  • Community forum
  • Prioritized support for Office 365 admins & Premier customers
  • Charge for after hours support
  • In-site “Contact us” form
  • Extensive knowledge base
  • In-site messaging

Review of Yammer

Yammer is a Facebook and Twitter hybrid made specifically with business objectives in mind. The app gives you a microblogging platform that fosters organic, real-time conversation and collaboration. You can also send direct messages to individuals or smaller groups. Yammer lets you upload files, links, and images and share them with individuals, teams, or your entire network. Set up your company directory to make it quick and easy to find and contact employees from outside of your department. Looking for a chat platform for your medical company? Yammer is HIPAA certified for communication security, so it’s great for medical organizations.

Integrate with Yammer

You can integrate a ton of apps to work together with Yammer and create a powerful system. Yammer provides a new level of off-site collaboration.

  • Integrate with SharePoint to build and manage web design remotely
  • Salesforce.com integration helps team members stay on top of progress, leads, and campaigns
  • Add-on companion app (Desktop Notifier) that sends notifications to your desktop when the Yammer app is closed
  • Access metrics by integrating with JMX

Pricing

For Yammer’s upgraded Enterprise Network, you’ll be paying per user per month. Some of the network level tools and apps you can use with Yammer, like SharePoint and Single Sign-On, are paid only. You can enjoy many key features on the free Basic Network, though, including:

  • file sharing
  • mobile access
  • integration with business apps like Github and Zendesk

The Bottom Line

Overall, Yammer is a great functioning app for what it is designed to do, but outside of medical, HIPAA-bound organizations, there just isn’t enough added value on top of standard email to justify paying for an app like Yammer. It also seems that the Microsoft bureaucracy has taken over Yammer’s support system. Complicated request forms and a charge for after hours support? Yuck! They do offer a free 30-day trial, though, so if you’re interested, give them a shot and decide for yourself!

Review of Lync

Lync is more closely aligned with Skype than HipChat or Yammer. The primary difference here is that you can connect to standard telephone systems with Lync. With Lync, you’ll be able to video and audio chat with other Lync users, Skype users, and third party audio conferencing providers. The upgraded plan allows you to hold multiparty (3+) video and audio conferences, share desktops, apps, & Whiteboards, and use the web app. Lync is the simplest of the three options, but it will function well if it fits your needs.

Integrate with Lync

Lync offers nearly 100 different integrations that provide you with a powerful and holistic operating experience. Of the three, available integrations make Lync the most compatible if you have a large number of telecommuters or if you need to communicate with people outside of your network.

  • Connect with Skype to extend far beyond your own company and communicate with clients and prospects
  • Collaborate with Salesforce to have meeting requests automatically generated and sent to your employees
  • Integrate with SharePoint to unleash the full potential of Lync by collaborating & creating in real-time with your telecommuters and traveling employees.

Pricing

Lync doesn’t offer a free package, but both packages it does offer are reasonably competitively priced. Plan 1 will run you $2 per user/month, but you’ll miss out on some key features like:

  • screen sharing
  • multiparty (3+) conferencing
  • interoperability with third party audio providers

Plan 2 is a little steeper at $5.50 per user/month and gets you the whole suite of features.

The Bottom Line

Lync is a little pricier than HipChat or Yammer, but if you do it frequently, the ability to connect with people outside of your network is well worth it. If your business relies on communicating with clients, prospects, or telecommuting employees, give Lync a try. They’re part of the MS Office suite, so they offer a 180-day free trial. Give ‘em a shot!

Review of HipChat

HipChat offers you awesome security and utility when it comes to file sharing and group chat. Persistent group chat allows you easy access to team members and shared ideas, while HipChat archives your conversation to create a searchable chat history for you to reference later. Drag and drop file sharing allows documents to be shared and co-edited by anyone from anywhere and on any device. Video chat is available as a group or one-to-one and provides your team with an intuitive, in-person atmosphere for collaboration and communication across locales. Since your employees can access HipChat from any desktop or device, video chat helps your team stay connected to coworkers and the organization as a whole when traveling or working from outside the office.

Integrate with Hipchat

There are many apps available for you to integrate and provide powerful connections that will boost your productivity and simplify team communication.

  • Integrate with GitHub and you can expect room messages notifying you of key actions
  • JIRA connection provides notifications on issue creation and workflow transitions, updates you on issue actions

Pricing

HipChat Plus is priced per user per month, so as your business grows so will your costs. HipChat does offer a Basic plan, which is free, but it doesn’t include features like:

  • screen sharing
  • unlimited file storage
  • video chat — basically the whole point of the app

The Bottom Line

Overall, HipChat is a great way to increase communication and collaboration throughout your company. If your business is small or very geographically diverse, we recommend giving HipChat a go with their 30-day free trial of the Plus plan. Then you can decide for yourself if HipChat is right for you and your team.

Some other solutions include:

Campfire

  • Essentially, instant messaging for groups. Campfire lets you share files and save transcripts.
  • 30-day free trial
  • 4 plans ranging from $12 - $99/month

Slack

  • Centralizes all of your communication (Twitter, Google Docs, GitHub, etc.). Allows keyword search to reference archived conversations and fully native iOS and Android apps.
  • 4 plans ranging from $0 - $99 per user/month

eXo Platform

  • Social intranet including wikis, forums, calendars, and documents. Create user profiles, add connections, get activity streams. Integrate user accounts from existing enterprise directory
  • 2 plans ranging from $0 - $3 per user/month

Basecamp

  • Project management app including calendar, messaging, documents, to-do. Free for teachers.
  • free 60-day trial
  • 4 plans ranging from $20 - $150/month