Why Microsoft's Yammer buyout matters in pharma

Microsoft ($MSFT) has plans to step up its focus on social networking with its expected buyout of the business social network Yammer for more than $1 billion. And The Wall Street Journal caught up with the tech chief at AstraZeneca, among others, in a piece that gauges the import of the major buyout across several different sectors.

To hear Angela Yochem, AstraZeneca's ($AZN) chief technology officer, the value of social networking tools is the ability to rally folks from inside and outside of the drug giant for collaborations. For AZ, there's been no one single software tool to bring all of these parties together, Yochem tells the WSJ. She suggests that a combination of tools from vendors of various sizes could complete the internal social networking needs of her large organization.

The WSJ piece asks how Microsoft, the world's largest softwaremaker, could integrate Yammer's technology with existing Microsoft products. In pharma, many drugmakers use Microsoft platforms such as Office and SharePoint for a wide range of business-related tasks, including management of documents and supporting projects involving multiple people in a company. However, many biopharma professionals have complained of the lack of coordination among groups within their own massive organizations, with some pointing out that lab tests are often repeated needlessly and that there's a lack of knowledge about the expertise of fellow employees at different R&D sites, to list just two examples.

For the latter problem, Boston-based Knode recently formed to enable life sciences outfits to search for subject matter experts inside and outside of their organizations to support collaborations and other endeavors. The startup's tool merges elements of a highly specialized search engine with the personalized touch of social web tools. Microsoft could offer its own answer to this problem with an integrated version of Yammer that enables people to post comments about their interests and share their profiles and data with colleagues at their companies.

- read the WSJ's article