Facebook set to enter the intranet market
Social networking giant Facebook is looking to extend its reach into the digital workplace with a social collaboration offer to compete with giants such as Google, as well as enterprise social products such as Sharepoint and Jive.
According to a report in the Financial Times this week, Facebook are building on their own internal use of their network for workplace collaboration to develop a new product, Facebook At Work, which will offer the kind of discussion, expertise finding and collaboration capabilities that can deliver real business value inside the enterprise.
Sources say the new product will retain familiar Facebook features such as the newsfeed and groups, but (crucially) will keep work profiles separate from the baby photos, Buzzfeed quizzes and cat gifs on our personal ones.
It remains to be seen if Facebook can crack the thorny problem of truly usable enterprise collaboration tools – Microsoft have been trying for years and still struggle. But it’s likely to prove a serious challenger for social communications at the very least, making it a competitor for Yammer, Interact, Jive and a host of smaller cloud-based social solutions, as well as Google’s enterprise email and chat offering.
Facebook are yet to reveal any details of the features or functionality of their enterprise product, leading some to question whether this latest leak is aimed at assuring investors that the social network still has growth potential.
To crack the digital workplace market, Facebook first needs to win the trust of CIOs, who will need assurance that Facebook can meet compliance requirements around employee and client data (see our ten laws post for details). It will also likely face an uphill battle to change its perception in the board room from waste of time to productivity tool.
But, what will it cost? If there is a large price tag attached then the boardroom will need to change their perception from current “Facebook is evil and we hate it” to “this is a service I am willing to pay for”. On the other hand, if there is no cost then it about data and privacy – building upon the model Facebook use today. In which case, Facebook would be banking on organisations taking the same approach as individuals and giving away an element of personal data for the service. Will that concept actually work with executives?
We, at Intranetizen, are interested about learning more but can’t shake the skeptical. Is this the solution we are looking for? Or is it another product in an already saturated market? What are your thoughts on Facebook’s recent example? Let us know in the comments below.