It’s difficult to know what Facebook is aiming for with Facebook at Work. News reports from the past few weeks have not contained in-depth information about the product, so assumptions are being made purely on speculation. However despite the lack of insight into the new platform, we do know a lot about Facebook as a company which gives us some indication of what Facebook at Work will look like.
When we talk about Facebook, we’re speaking about a site where members relinquish the idea of privacy to share everything and anything with online friends. Facebook is entirely based on this concept of over sharing, which it has achieved through very clever branding. Facebook is the guy at the party that everyone wants to hang out with – popular, funny, and even a bit crazy – but what are they like to work with?
Fans of the site are not interested in specifics when it comes to the brand’s reputation. However, from what we know so far, it seems that Facebook will not be looking to establish another ‘social network’ as we know it. Instead, it is looking to build an enterprise collaboration platform which will compete with the likes of Yammer, Novell Vibe and Microsoft Sharepoint as opposed to social sites like LinkedIn.
It’s important to note that competition is not the biggest problem for Facebook here – in fact, it’s the customers. It’s not yet known how Facebook plans to make money from the platform. It doesn’t seem likely that an advertising-based model will be used in this instance. Although it is a model Facebook understands, it seems unlikely that it will give the solution to enterprise users for free. A more likely option for the workplace is a licensing model – but how on earth do you convince a CIO to invest in an offering from Facebook?
Facebook has long been perceived as the ‘enemy of the CIO’ in the enterprise. For organisations that allow employees to use Facebook at work, CIOs face a variety of problems, from creating guidelines for use to allocating resources for bandwidth. Regardless, it is widely known across businesses as a killer of productivity, consumer of bandwidth and a hole in otherwise rigid security regimes.
It’s no surprise that organisations are far from keen to have their internal collaboration data made publicly available. Facebook’s reputation will stand in the way of any success for an enterprise offering just as much as the reality of the platform itself will. Until there is some distance between the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘oversharing’, Facebook at Work will be last on the CIO’s list when it comes to collaboration in the workplace.
Ensuring an IT environment remains secure is top of a CIO’s list of priorities. It’s not likely that Facebook can shake off its reputation and get IT departments to feel happy with the security of their information on the platform. Facebook might be the person you want at the party, but it’s certainly not the guy companies want running enterprise collaboration.