If Facebook at Work is left for employees to figure out on their own as a generalised environment for ad-hoc information sharing, team collaboration, and community-building – then Facebook risks running into the same quagmire of adoption and business value issues that has burdened enterprise software vendors.
Example use case scenarios include:
• Employee on boarding • Alumni and retiree networks • Wellness programs • Corporate communications (such as town halls, polls, surveys) • Community outreach (voluntary employee groups that do social good locally) • Employee engagement • Communities specific to roles, work practices, and such • External activities with business partners and contractors – potentially customers down the road.
What possible role can partners play?
By getting into the enterprise business, Facebook is opening the door to additional partnerships and add-ons to its core capabilities in order to expand its overall ecosystem.
Additional solution scenarios are possible if Facebook at Work included an app store that focused on business activities.
For instance, if employees could add project and document management apps then Facebook At Work can become more structured to support project management as well as the development of / response to RFP proposals.
Enterprise social networking (ESN) is a fragmented market where major vendors have been reluctant to embrace standards or move in directions that increases interoperability with competitors.
The complexity of integrating with multiple large vendor players can disenfranchise smaller vendors in the market. Employees can easily find themselves with several profiles, follow models, and activity streams to track.
Organisations can find themselves in a situation where they are justifiably using a few large-scale ESN deployments without a “hub” or common destination that supports cross-functional activities.
If Facebook were to leave complicated business scenarios (such as those involving compliance, process management, records management) to others then it could potentially create a vibrant partner and developer ecosystem.
Facebook also needs to make sure they partner effectively with the IT Organisation. They need to make sure that Facebook at Work has the necessary administration and policy management capabilities to satisfy security, identity, privacy and overall management concerns.
Who is threatened then?
Vendors that lack diversity by being focused only on delivering ESN solutions could see some of their basic workloads shift to Facebook at Work.
Facebook at Work could also move into mobile messaging as well. Finally, if Facebook at Work were successful, then consumer players such as LinkedIn potentially could see competition as Facebook will have the opportunity to create a large-scale collection of professional profiles.
Are there other concerns?
Absolutely – if you look at the recent media stories regarding consumer social media players, including Facebook, involved in questionable research studies that allegedly manipulated people in some way – those issues come over into the enterprise.
The anxiety employees have in their consumer experience regarding Facebook need to be addressed before an organisation deploys Facebook at Work.
All vendors, not just Facebook, need to address transparency and ethical aspects of their algorithms and monitoring techniques.