Can the New Facebook@Work Market Become a Reality?

Reported to be in pilot phase, the business version of FB will have nifty features for businesses to gain on productivity, but will it be able to deliver in true sense because enterprises care more about their data confidentiality and security than anything else!

There are CIOs who look forward to it to use for internal collaboration, and there are others who don't want to use it at all in their organisations.

Update: Facebook Launches Facebook at Work

Be it for sharing the lighter moments or linking with like-minded people or even sharing articles we feel worth scattering, we all use Facebook. The appeal of FB is tried and tested for consumers but the question is ‘does it make sense for an enterprise version of FB?’ 

Given the appeal and triumph of the social platform across age groups, geographies, and demographics, it might be prudent for Zuckerberg to tap into other market segments like enterprise. While there are logic and arguments that go against this ambition, there is no rebuffing that ‘Facebook at work’ can be made equally tantalizing for employees to hook up with their co-employees in a gamified platform.

According to a report by The FT, the ‘Facebook at Work’ is on the anvil and is likely to come up from the pilot phase soon.

Expected features of ‘Facebook at Work’
As per the report, the work version of FB will have all popular features integrated into one. The new service would allow users chat with colleagues and collaborate on official documents. It is also expected that the service will initially be advertising free. 

It looks the site would compete with LinkedIn, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. According to the FT report, Facebook at Work will firmly be aimed at employees and business users but will look and act like the consumer version.

Features that can put it to enterprise use
Imagine the same look and feel of Facebook which we have been wasting time on for years now is beefed up with some additional features of LinkedIn we all tried our hands on. You get introduced to new resources in your domain via various groups without having to move out from the platform; learn new insights relevant to your profile, etc. As a marketer, you get to win more contacts and hence the chance to build partnerships and open up to prospective clients.   

Google Drive and DropBox are the two most used online services by enterprises. What if these services are integrated with FB-like environment for you to stay glued to it for all your communication needs.

Similarly productivity capabilities, like Office 365, can be enmeshed for employees to create documents and collaborate amongst, all without having to move out of the application. Office version of FB may not replace all these independent services, but this impending version of FB has potential to bring all such tool experience together allowing users to switch between seamlessly.

The strong case for enterprises also lies in the fact that employees spend considerable time on FB for personal use. Even in offices where it is banned, there are people and there are proxy settings for them to intrude into. Not to mention the basic minimum time that they spend on their smart devices responding to friend requests, commenting on the picture they feel they should, no matter how important the task he is assigned with. So frittering away the day on social network can actually be put to use if FB succeeds to come up with a platform that users find truly luring and feature-rich.

Challenges to be taken over
Having said, integrating all these services and facilitating a seamless switch between would be an uphill task to ensure people hold close this platform and stay glued. 

Here are the challenges that Zuckerberg has to rule over before they even speculate making it a reality. For enterprise users to use the employee-to-employee communication service, the interface should be simple and intuitive to use, secure to rely upon, and stable to keep it going.

There are nifty products that saw their demise, like Google Wave Data protection, privacy are of paramount to businesses, more than collaboration   There is no guarantee that FB will treat sensitive information confidentially Any break-down in trust anywhere will make many others take a detour IT department will have just another job to ensure everything is secure

What do CIOs and IT heads say
We spoke to CIOs and IT heads on whether they would be interested to use this product. The CIO of USV Limited, Meheriar Patel, says, yes. He is interested to try it for internal knowledge and collaboration. Head IT of ICICI Securities, Yagnesh Parikh, echoes the same tone. However, the IT manager of Toshiba Transmission & Distributions Systems, Saritha Kaza, does not seem to be interested enough to try this.

Himanshu Shah, CTO, Adarsh Credit, is interested to use it.  “Because by allowing people controlled access to social media sites under reasonable guidelines and timely review, you're actually helping the employee to do the right thing at work," he says.

The bottomline
Facebook at work, given the expected features, looks promising for enterprise use. However, it won’t be a smooth sailing unlike its consumer version, for businesses would care more about the confidentiality of their data than the ease of collaboration that this platform might bring in.

What’s your take on this? Would you mind being a part of it? Will you allow your team to leverage it for business gains? Please let us know by commenting below.





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