Can Workplace by Facebook Invigorate Enterprise Collaboration?


It’s OK to be on Facebook at work now.

Facebook officially launched today its long-awaited enterprise collaboration tool — with a (slightly) new name. It’s no longer Facebook at Work but Workplace, by Facebook.

Facebook signed 1,000 organizations in its 18-month beta mode. After today’s full release, it sees itself as a strong contender in a space dominated by collaboration tools such as Slack, Atlassian HipChat, IBM Connections, Microsoft Yammer and Salesforce Chatter

Digital Workplace Needs

Facebook officials said its new platform “fulfills a key gap in the market.”

It is a tool for “people who don’t work at offices or at desks,” officials said in a company release. “These are retail workers, ship crews, baristas, all of whom did not have access to traditional workplace tools, but because our product is mobile, are driving adoption.”

Organizations from every continent except Antarctica are already using the tool, including more than 100,000 groups, Facebook claims. They added its most popular in India, Norway, the US, the UK and France.

How Pricing Stacks Up

Facebook’s pricing model is based on a monthly fee per active user:

  • $3 each for the first 1,000 monthly active users
  • $2 each for the 1,001 to 10,000 monthly active users
  • $1 each for the 10,000-plus monthly active users

For comparison, you can review price models for Slack, HipChat, IBM Connections, Microsoft Yammer and Salesforce Chatter.

The Facebook Difference

Facebook must differentiate from existing collaboration options, said Richard Edwards, principal research analyst at London-based Ovum. Edwards, who focuses on employee engagement, collaborative productivity and the future of work, told CMSWire, “Employee engagement requires energy, commitment and authentic consideration at every level within the business, and in the digital age, a digital medium is required to channel these efforts. There are many enterprise social networking products on the market, and Ovum is currently producing a detailed report that examines seven popular solutions, so Facebook will have to convince business and IT decision makers that its new offering is different and/or better.”

His research includes Jive, Yammer, Chatter, VMWare Socialcast, IBM Connections, SAP Jam and MangoApps

“Of course, no one uses any of these solutions in their personal lives, so maybe that will make a difference,” Edwards said.

Work Chat, Auto-Translate

Facebook added new features in its beta mode including:

  • Multi-company groups: Shared groups that allow employees from multiple organizations to work together. Members from other companies can’t see information from your company outside of the multi-company groups
  • Workplace partner program: Global partners like Deloitte or Microsoft, to help customers with deployments and usage

“Workplace helps organizations collaborate better and makes it easier to get things done, all while using familiar Facebook features like News Feed, Groups, Chat, Live Video and more,” officials said. It is “mobile-first, so employees can use it to work with their colleagues from anywhere in the world.”

Just as Facebook “keeps you connected to friends and family, it can do the same with coworkers,” company officials said. 

Facebook cited initial Workplace use cases such as: a shipping company that connects with its ship crews using Live video; a bank that uses Workplace instead of fax machines and newsletters. Early customers include Danone, Starbucks,, Oxfam, YES Bank in India and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore.

The Workplace platform also features a dashboard with analytics and integrations with single sign-on. Through its Workplace Partner Program, Facebook will work with companies like Deloitte to give companies more access Workplace through Facebook’s approved partners.


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