Three Things Businesses Need to Know about Workplace by Facebook
Oct 18, 2016
After an extended beta period, Facebook @ Work recently launched for general business consumption, officially known as Workplace by Facebook. After pouring through all the available online content, including snazzy videos, to better understand Workplace here are the three things business decision makers and IT need to know:
- It’s Facebook, but for work. Yes, almost to a fault, it’s Facebook at your company. As Facebook’s own press release says “We’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace”. Workplace has the identical look and feel of Facebook, but with a new color scheme, a place for a company logo, and no ads. On mobile devices, Workplace gains two dedicated apps, “Workplace by Facebook” and “Work Chat”, that correspond directly with their consumer equivalents, Facebook and Facebook Messenger. Workplace has also inherited some of the latest features of its consumer sibling, such as 1:1 video chats and Facebook Live, affording tech-savvy CEOs to start conducting all-company broadcasts from their mobile devices.
- Workplace is the safest bet to make for enterprise social networks today. Facebook is the social network that launched a thousand ships; dozens of enterprise social networks (ESNs) have launched under the conceit of being the “Facebook for businesses”, yet most of them have struggled to gain a real foothold in most businesses. In essence, Workplace is Facebook’s disruptive entry into the ESN market that it inadvertently helped create.
In terms of disruption, Workplace has two very compelling things going for it. First, there is little to no learning curve for the millions of Facebook users today. From the user’s perspective, Workplace looks and feels exactly like Facebook. This will absolutely drive initial adoption within businesses. Of course, it remains to be seen if that familiarly will translate into repeated visits and usage. Second, the pricing model for Workplace should shake up the ESN market. Facebook will count an organization’s active users per month, then charge at a tiered $3/$2/$1 rate. The more active users a business has on Workplace, the lower the per-user monthly rate. This low-cost, low-risk pricing model allows businesses to take a tentative step in to the ESN world, and at the same time make Facebook’s new competitors at least a little bit nervous.
- Workplace doesn’t move the ball. While I have no doubt that many businesses are already lining up to get signed up for Workplace, Facebook does not seem to be addressing the inherent issue with most enterprise social networks--they are additive to the information overload that most business users are dealing with today. Business users already have too many communications methods that they have to manage (email, office phone line, mobile, audio/video/web conferencing, instant messaging, voice mail, CRM, file sharing and content management, etc.). At launch, Workplace lacks any integration with these other tools, and in essence is another island of communication that risks becoming just another place that users have to be reminded to check regularly.
Ultimately, Workplace by Facebook delivers exactly what many businesses have been begging for: an enterprise social network and group communication tool that is as easy to use as Facebook. However, the future of business communications belongs to providers that get users closer to the single pane of glass, not to those that are building another wall.
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