Facebook at Work is finally here
Earlier this month we reported that Facebook was internally testing a business networking and enterprise collaboration platform, Facebook at Work. Today a private beta version has been launched for iOS and Android. Businesses can sign up to create a network amongst its employees to facilitate communication and collaboration.
The launch is the result of Facebook itself testing the platform over the past 10 years within its own company operations. According to Lars Rasmussen, who designed the platform, “When Mark [Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO] makes an announcement he just posts it on Facebook at Work.” Rasmussen’s design is also influenced by lessons he learned from the failure of Google Wave, as well as “feedback from 1 billion active users.”
Facebook at Work will function very similarly to regular old Facebook, but instead of linking to friends from all walks of life, you simply join a network that represents your entire company. Users create a log-in to use with work accounts, or can link their personal profiles to their Facebook at Work account to stay signed into both simultaneously. Either way, Facebook assures users that there will never be any overlap between personal and work accounts.
What Facebook at Work is designed to do
The site will include individual and group chats, groups, and a news feed filtered to deliver relevant updates from the coworkers you interact with most. Users can create events, then invite the entire company with one click. Employees can also share documents, but unfortunately at this time cannot edit them.
Facebook at Work was designed to be especially useful for companies with 100 employees or more, although smaller businesses are already using it too. With businesses getting bigger and more complex, Facebook at Work could be a handy tool for helping to organize internal communications.
What’s familiar and unfamiliar
Unlike some other enterprise networking platforms, Facebook at Work includes profiles, making it easy to keep track of who’s who on your staff. Because Facebook at Work functions so much like regular Facebook, it may appeal to companies who want to skip the learning curve of a new software and get their staff networking quickly. Employees may be more likely to engage with a highly recognizable platform that they more or less already know how to use.
Yet with the familiar interface also comes Facebook’s infamous reputation for frequently changing its confusing privacy controls, and for collecting user data. Some businesses are uncomfortable with the idea of Facebook owning potentially sensitive company data, fearing that confidentiality will be breached.
Caveat emptor, employees
Employees will also need to keep in mind that whoever manages the company account will be able to read any and all messages they send. Furthermore, anything you post will be seen by the entire company because there is no way to designate a more select group of recipients.
Despite these privacy concerns, it is likely that Facebook at Work will become a major competitor in the enterprise networking market. After all, regular Facebook has continued to attract new users despite its poor track record for user confidentiality.
What do you think? Will you try out Facebook at Work for your business?