It’s not You Facebook Workplace, It’s Me (Ok, It’s You)

You may be the new thing, Workplace, but I've already moved on. Yes, you have the familiar Facebook layout that people know and we use, and I love your live streaming technology that Microsoft and others just haven't been able to figure out just yet. And somehow, when I'm sitting in the airport in Perth, Australia or Durban, South Africa and I can barely get one bar on the public wi-fi, your Messenger seems to cut through the airwaves like a flamethrower when nothing else gets through. But we don't need another enterprise social network. The standalone ESN is dead.

imageIt's not you, Workplace. Well, not specifically. The problem is that the space has moved. You are the "new, cool thing" right now and will certainly add some customers, but the enterprise space has already matured past what you are offering, no matter how many bells and whistles you include. Companies want a more comprehensive, holistic Digital Workplace, and it requires more than personal pages, chat, and web meetings.

Don't believe me? Millennials are dropping Facebook. It's a fact. Google it. Or SnapChat it…or something. Are the kids using Reddit? I forget…

And then there's that trust issue which hasn't seemed to go away entirely. Would you move your business data and team conversations to a platform run by Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook advertising machine? Businesses will continue to ask where the line is between services and FB's need to provide a more effective advertising platform for businesses based on the social connections and information consumption of its 1.3 billion members. No matter what you say, gleaning intelligence from your users for personal gain is part of your corporate persona. Period.

These rumors are not new. In fact, experts within the collaboration space have long discussed the potential impact of a Facebook entry into the crowded collaboration field, where platforms from Microsoft, IBM, Jive, Box, and many other established players have long been operating. The move of the world's most recognized consumer social platform into the enterprise space is intriguing, and unlike the typical organically-grown or venture-backed startups, has instant brand recognition — but it will be a battle to get past your consumer roots and those pesky trust issues.

While it is easy to assume that any large brand will have similar success within new business ventures, one doesn't need to go outside of the social collaboration segment to find examples of massive brand names who failed to dominate in the space. Google is one of the largest, most recognized brands in the world, and their launch of the social platform Google+ was predicted to take over the consumer social crown from Facebook, but has had a lackluster response from the community, at best. In a similar fashion, Salesforce Chatter was heralded as the "killer app" that would steal away social-minded business users from competing platforms, and while Salesforce continues to be the leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, the predictions of massive corporate conversions to the platform due to the Chatter capability has, so farm, failed to live up to those lofty expectations.

I am interested to hear what people think about Facebook Workplace, and whether they believe my points here are wrong. I'm certainly happy to see more players in the space because it helps validate what I have known for years — that social is the key to making enterprise collaboration and communication successful. And it is validation that what my company, Beezy, if focused on is continuing to grow and invite investment.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.