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Facebook at Work: Facebook's foray into enterprise communication

Facebook has unveiled Facebook at Work, a new enterprise market communication tool that mimics personal Facebook and is designed to compete with Yammer and Chatter.

After a decade focusing on its consumer-based social networking application, Facebook has unveiled Facebook at...

Work, a new enterprise communication tool planned for release over the next several months.

Facebook at Work will mimic the personal version of Facebook, but is designed for worker interaction and collaboration. It will include capabilities that are part of its consumer apps, such as the News Feed, Messenger and Groups features.

How Facebook at Work will separate workers' personal personas from work accounts remains a question. If it works like Google Apps, for example, the application may be administered by IT, with separate login and password information from personal accounts, while still enabling users to log into both accounts at work.

Workers' familiarity with Facebook and their personal use of it may also give it a leg up in the market, where rivals for workplace collaboration and communication include Microsoft Yammer, Campfire chat, and Salesforce.com's Chatter. Some 23% of workers recently surveyed by Salary.com reported using Facebook during working hours.

Facebook reportedly already uses the app internally for communication and collaboration between its employees and, for the past six months, has been piloting the app at various companies. It is still early in the testing phase, according to Facebook, and the team testing the new offering is based in London.

We really don't know how far they intend to go.
Rob Koplowitzanalyst, Forrester Research Inc.

"At first blush, it seems that Facebook is following the lead of Google and moving from a pure consumer play into the enterprise," said Forrester Research Inc. analyst Rob Koplowitz. "We really don't know how far they intend to go."

But Koplowitz made clear that Facebook's foray into the enterprise comes with a whole new set of requirements that make enterprise collaboration a tough business. According to reports, for example, it's not yet clear whether Facebook at Work will support ads in the application, which would be a source of revenue.

"To fully compete in the enterprise requires deep and complex capabilities that aren't required in a consumer offering," Koplowitz said. "It can also be a tough, low-margin business where cost of sales can be high."

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Does your company have a sanctioned app for collaboration, and what is it?
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We've used the SnapComms solution in-house for a number of years with great success. One of the big advantages of using this platform is they offer a local installation (as opposed to Cloud) so all the data is housed on our servers, something our CIO was quite happy about. As an administrator of this service, I have the ability to send out communications to staff (I can choose which team members to target) which can be received on their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile...staff are able to respond using any one of those devices so it really does help keep staff informed (we have a highly distributed workforce)
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How to say this without sounding like a shill. I work for Socialtext. We make collaboration tools. With the exception of a chat client called "Slack", we do most of our work in our own product. We are so meta that we even use our own product to test itself (not hyperbole, we actually use Socialtext and its internal engine to run tests on itself written within itself. It's pretty cool :).

So what does that entail. For us, it means a custom Kanban board built in our product, signals to share information, wikis that can be quickly edited, Socialcalc for calculations and spreadsheet stuff, blogs for creating HowTos, interactive document editing for updates and real time communication on edits, and a host of plug in widgets to do a variety of tasks. Personally, I think it's pretty cool... but then, I would say that, wouldn't I ;)?
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These comments indicate that there are plenty of other tools out there to forge communication at the workplace.

So the question is, Does Facebook have a leg up because so many consumers use it in their personal lives? No learning curve, and you might be able to log in to your personal account every once in a while because now it's a company-sanctioned app?

Or are other applications already installed, in place and embraced by employees, making Facebook at Work too little too late?
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Frankly, and this is just my opinion, Facebook is so messy and all encompassing that, short of creating yet another account specifically for work purposes, much of any work collaboration would be lost in the shuffle. For me, Facebook is "what's in front of my face is what I see". I may scroll a little bit, but I will not read everything to get back to where I was the day before. that's takes too long, and too much irrelevant stuff gets posted. Seems there are plenty of other options, without the annoying ads and come ons.
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This is my personal opinion, I like to keep work and play separate so I certainly wouldn't want to embrace a tool I use socially outside of work as part of my working day. The lines get a little blurred as to how much of my profile can be seen by work colleagues etc etc. And if you get the friend request from someone you perhaps might not want to connect with socially...hmmm, think I'll stick to more well known corporate tools (I've had a bug bear with Facebook insisting I install a separate messaging tool on my mobile...once they forced me to, I simply uninstalled the whole app...much easier)
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IBM Connections is the best solution for social communications at business
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My company's corporate policy is to use Lync, but our local domain is separate from our corporate domain, which makes Lync connections rather sketchy, so we informally use Skype at the office. We just use simple shared folders for more rigorous collaboration. Yammer has also been adopted at the corporate level, but I don't know anyone who uses it locally.

I'd be surprised if Facebook for Work became popular just because so many places already ban Facebook for 'productivity' reasons. It might be a difficult about face to suddenly allow one version of Facebook but not another.
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CarolBrands,
 
I have wonderered the same thing given that many companies don't allow Facebook to be used at work. It seems as though there is a natural limit on enterprise adoption of this tool given the various concerns about security, productivity and so on.
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Interesting. The familiarity of the interface (and the association with fun, non-work things) could really create more buzz for this than the other collaboration tools that often just seem like more work/yet another thing to log into. But I'll be curious to see how Facebook solves the personal/professional issue.
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Ben, unless people used separate accounts, I don't really see how they can separate it. Also, I'd be seriously concerned about cross-stream pollution (not mixing work and play is already challenging enough, putting it in the same wrapper is not likely to lessen that challenge). As in all things, YMMV ;). 
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Yeah, I think it's likely that people will have to use separate accounts; in my experience people are very hesitant to use a personal social account for work purposes, for fear of sharing too much of their own lives. But maybe widespread use of Facebook at Work could push people to use more of the privacy controls they should be using on their personal profiles...
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