“We wanted to build enterprise software the Facebook way.”
― Julien Codorniou, Director of Workplace by Facebook
Facebook’s quest for complete digital ubiquity continues. The social network is not only the third most popular website on Earth, but Facebook has now sunk its teeth into virtual reality, messaging, gaming, artificial intelligence, and is present on more than one billion Smartphone devices. Next up on Facebook’s roster: Enterprise software.
Earlier this month, Facebook launched the long awaited Workplace by Facebook, which was previously known as Facebook at Work. The new service aims to rival white collar collaborative platforms such as Slack and HipChat by reducing e-mail exchanges through implementing a central hub where co-workers can hold group discussions, communicate via chat, and utilize voice and video calling features. It has also been reported that Facebook will eventually integrate with various SaaS tools like Asana, though that has yet to be confirmed.
Despite how new the service is, Facebook has already signed up more than 1,000 businesses including major customers like the Royal Bank of Scotland and its 100,000 employees, food company Danone (who brings another 100,000 users to the table), and coffee behemoth Starbucks with its legion of 238,000 employees.
Since Facebook offers many of the same elements as its competitors, there is seemingly little reason for brands to switch over to the new offering from the social site. But that assessment is only based off the features themselves. On the logistical side of things, Workplace by Facebook could house some major benefits for businesses large and small.
The Case for Workplace by Facebook
The first perk to adding Workplace by Facebook to your company’s productivity pallet is its competitive price point. As it currently stands, Slack’s standard service runs organizations $6.67 per user per month and moves up from there. Most other solutions in the space are even more expensive. For small business owners, these rates can quickly add up to a major expenditure.
Workplace by Facebook is taking a slightly different route and is charging “per monthly active user” meaning that if certain users do not log in within 30 days, the company will not have to pay those fees. Additionally, Facebook will charge a mere $3 per user per month for the first 1,000 users with the rates then dropping to $2 for 1,001 – 10,000 users, and $1 for any users above that point.
Pricing aside, however, the most appealing benefit of Workplace by Facebook is its familiarity and near non-existent learning curve. When organizations sign up for tools such as these, navigating the service can feel foreign and complicated, which leads users to be slow in utilizing the software or not wanting to leverage it at all.
Workplace by Facebook provides a level of comfort to new users because they see much of the same elements and layout as they would on the traditional website; newsfeeds, groups, messaging, user profiles, likes, and other recognizable elements. Providing such a comfortable and friendly experience to employees can lead to a level of excitement in using the service that will, in turn, help to boost productivity.
One former Facebook employee commented on the social network’s internal conversation exchanges by stating that, “Most of their communication and planning is done though Messages and Groups. It would be a pretty natural thing to try to expose this way of using Facebook to get things done at the office to the rest of the world. It’s a really fast and efficient way to get things done.”
Hootsuite was one of the Workplace by Facebook beta testers and CEO Ryan Holmes is a huge proponent of the new offering. He recently stated that the, “. . . concept of the newsfeed and of groups is already familiar to people,” and that “If you can use Facebook, you can use Facebook Workplace.”
Over the course of the year when the company tested out Workplace, productivity seems to have increased as Holmes proclaimed that the service was “a huge time saver” because of how natural the platform felt.
“Instead of firing off dozens of group e-mails, you can have a much more natural conversation by posting and responding on a Facebook group,” Holmes stated.
He also noted that the group model provides a higher level of visibility to employees who can simply be added or removed from groups depending on their role with the company.
Groups are not limited to employees within a single organization, either. These can be set up with members of other businesses who are frequent collaborators and are also leveraging Workplace by Facebook.
It seems that with Facebook’s extremely competitive pricing, familiarity among consumers, and brand recognition, there is genuine reason for other solutions in the space to be nervous about their new challenger.
The company is already used to constantly innovating new and exciting ways for businesses to increase profitability through a variety of compelling ads, robust data on users and content performance, and a plethora of ways to engage audiences through Messenger, Groups, Live video, and more. As far as building Workplace into the dominant force in enterprise communication software goes, Facebook should not be underestimated as the company has proven its ability to draw their fair share of various markets time and time again.
If Facebook is good at one thing, it is making their intentions clear. The company has already provided a communications platform for more than a billion individuals around the globe and now aims to become just as ubiquitous in the white collar world.