Facebook takes on the enterprise with new social network

Facebook is beginning a pilot test of a desktop service and mobile app for what's being dubbed Facebook at Work.

Facebook, the world's largest social network, is making its first move into the enterprise.

The company confirmed to Computerworld that it is beginning a pilot test of a desktop service and mobile app for what's being dubbed Facebook at Work, an enterprise-level social and collaborative network for the workplace.

"Facebook at Work is a separate experience that gives employees the ability to connect and collaborate efficiently using Facebook tools -- many that they're likely already using, such as News Feed, Groups, messages and events," a Facebook spokeswoman wrote in an email. "Co-workers can stay in touch with each other in the same way they stay in touch with friends and family via Facebook."

She noted that while Facebook at Work is designed to give users the look and functions they're familiar with on their social network, this service will be separate.

Employees' documents or information shared on Facebook at Work will not be connected to their personal Facebook pages. "The info shared among employees is only accessible to people in the company," the spokeswoman added.

Facebook is testing the new service with a few partners. The app will be visible in Apple and Android app stores in the U.S. and the U.K. but will only be accessible to pilot partners.

"The enterprise market is an important one to virtually every single major software company," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "As the enterprise market is generally seen as a more profitable one, this will give Facebook an opportunity to drive up their profitability."

With its success in social media, Facebook should have plenty to offer a company that wants to help workers collaborate.

"Consider what Facebook brings to the table for the enterprise customer," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "First, Facebook absolutely knows how to run a social network from a technical standpoint. They know how to make it reliable, secure and how to scale it. They also know the feature mix and content that gets people engaged with the network and coming back for more."

The enterprise could be a big new lucrative market for Facebook.

"It will be very interesting to see the business model underpinning this effort," added Olds. "Will it be a purely pay-to-play, where a corporation essentially rents a Facebook instance for use by their employees alone? Or will there be an option where advertising from outsiders could be used to defray the cost of the corporate service? How much do you think a luxury car manufacturer or a large multinational bank would pay to have a sidebar ad on the company Facebook site?"

Of course, there is the risk that effort could fail if companies don't trust Facebook, which has had a history of privacy issues with users' information.

"I don't think Facebook is trusted enough to pull this off," Olds said. "There are far more concerns about privacy with business services, and folks don't believe Facebook is focused enough on security. Facebook's brand just isn't a business but a consumer brand."

On the other hand, Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Facebook is onto a great idea.

"Think about it. Fifteen years ago, the first thing we did when we woke up was check voice mail," he said. "Five years ago the first thing we did was check email. Today, we check our social feed. Now with Facebook at Work, we can check our work feeds. We can organize ourselves by projects instead of social groups. Instead of sending co-workers email, we'll message them."

Using a network to collaborate in the office -- especially one that so many people are familiar with -- is a better way to work, according to Kerravala.

However, if Facebook at Work fails, it could be a big stumble for the company.

"Well it's a revenue path they don't have right now, so if they fail, it's a short-term blip," he said. "Long term it could be a bigger problem because it could limit their growth. And I will say that serving consumers and businesses is very difficult. Very few companies can do both."

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in