Workplace by Facebook is now generally available to any business or institution that wants to use it. Previously known as Facebook at Work, Workplace has been in customer beta for 18 months and has attracted companies such as RBS, Yes Bank, Danone, Telekom Austria Group, Financial Times, Telenor, and Booking.com. Described by Facebook as "a communications platform that helps organizations collaborate and get more done," Facebook will have to convince business and IT decision-makers that this new offering is different and/or better than Jive, Yammer, Chatter, and so on.
A digital medium to connect every employee
The world's workforce is not homogenous. Every country and every industry presents a different workforce mix. Information technology solutions, including electronic communication and collaboration systems, have traditionally targeted the knowledge worker segment and, more recently, service workers through enterprise mobility initiatives. Manual workers have, for the most part, been left out of the loop because they are not "digitally connected" to the workplace, its processes, and its communication channels. However, affordable smartphones, pervasive wireless networks, and powerful cloud services are now able to connect the millions of manual workers employed in agriculture, accommodation and food, transport and storage, wholesale and retail, construction, and manufacturing.
Facebook is designed to be used by everyone. Millions of people use Facebook each and every day to stay in touch with family and friends, and the company will no doubt be hoping its new venture will be equally successful. A communications platform that helps organizations collaborate and get more done, Workplace is for everyone to use, not just the white collar workers at the company HQ. If business leaders can harness the Facebook "secret sauce" to drive up employee engagement, then all are likely to benefit: engaged employees are generally more productive, more innovative, and more collaborative; engaged employees typically deliver better customer service, have less time off work, and make fewer mistakes; and engaged employees have a better sense of well-being and contentment.
Employee engagement requires energy, commitment, and authentic consideration at every level within the business, and in the digital age, a digital medium is required to channel these efforts. There are many enterprise social networking products on the market, and Ovum is currently producing a detailed report that examines seven popular solutions, so Facebook will have to convince business and IT decision-makers that its new offering is different and/or better than the likes of Jive, Yammer, Chatter, Socialcast, IBM Connections, SAP Jam, and MangoApps. Of course, no one uses any of these solutions in their personal lives, so maybe that will make a difference.
A Digital Workspace Manifesto, IT0021-000179 (August 2016)
Collaborative partnerships drive disruptive innovation, IT0021-000175 (June 2016)
"Breaking free of the inbox: Groups, Slack, or Spark?" IT0021-000158 (February 2016)
"Coming to a device near you: the enterprise digital workplace" IT0021-000150 (February 2016)
2016 Trends to Watch: Employee Engagement, Productivity, and Collaboration, IT0021-000145 (February 2016)
"Collective energy – making the most of an engaged, collaborative workforce", IT0021-000129 (November 2015)
"Why you need an enterprise social network" EI0024-000025 (July 2015)
Ovum Interactive Decision Matrix: Enterprise Social Networking, IT0021-000017 (August 2014)
Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting an Enterprise Social Networking Product, IT013-000213 (January 2014 – update due October 2016)
Enterprise Social Networking, IT013-000182 (September 2012)
Richard Edwards, Principal Research Analyst, Enterprise Productivity & Mobility