Most offices have been working diligently to find ways of keeping Facebook out of sight and mind for their employees while on the job –but the social media giant may be finding ways to make inroads of their own into the enterprise market. While technically still in the rumours stage, the ‘Facebook at Work’ initiative is all but confirmed and could roll out in the next few months.
Think of this product as a shortcut to having a corporate Intranet, in many cases replacing e-mail or IM as it pertains to communication between colleagues. In addition, Facebook at Work is likely to make it very easy to collaborate on documents, share files, and communicate important news.
Knowing how securely Facebook dominates the social media category, already-established competitors are readying their defenses. One of the first is Salesforce.com, whose Chatter product already provides much of the same functionality that Facebook at Work is likely to offer; but even if it’s better, they (along with other likely suspects like LinkedIn, which can be quite expensive for their subscribers) lack overwhelming brand recognition and curb appeal. Love it or hate it, just about everybody is already familiar with Facebook.
This familiarity likely means that the success of Facebook at Work will depend heavily on their ability to adapt the same interfaces and layout that users are already used to; recognizing that corporate citizens hate change even more than most.
Facebook at Work is expected to be a completely separate product to the existing Facebook apps and website… but few details are known. While the current system is supported by a sophisticated ad network, enterprise would likely be willing to pay a little for corporate branding and a lack of external advertising. While central hosting provided by Facebook is a possibility, my best guess is that the app will be available for installation inside existing corporate networks (meaning security can remain a top priority and the upgrade and update schedule can be determined by each organization). Either way, I’m sure Facebook is busy hammering out all of these final details.
Facebook has not commented officially at this stage, but sometimes silence speaks volumes.