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October 11, 2016
Underneath the fluffy, philanthropic gestures, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has taken another step towards his true ambition of world domination with the launch of Workplace by Facebook.
We were almost fooled by how nice he appears to be, but now the grand plan has come out. That cunning Zuckerberg isn’t happy with us spending all of our social time obsessing over Facebook, now he wants control over our working lives as well. Facebook at Work, as it was known pre-rebrand, has been in a closed-beta test for the last 20 months and now has more than 1,000 organizations using the product. Now it’s available to world.
“The workplace is about more than just communicating between desks within the walls of an office,” the company said on its blog. “Some people spend their entire workday on the go, on their mobile phone. Others spend all day out in the field, or on the road. People work in different ways, around the world, and Workplace’s mission is to help them stay connected.”
The new proposition will allow companies to create a newsfeed for daily updates on a wider scale, various groups for individual projects, teams or departments, groups for collaboration with other companies, chat features, live video and audio calling features. It’s the initial launch and there are clearly holes in the offering compared to traditional products, though as it’s shown with the launch of the Marketplace platform, Facebook is not afraid of taking on established players.
Mobility of the workforce is one of the biggest trends to develop in recent years and the negative connotations associated with working-from-home have largely passed. Numerous companies around the world have launched products and solutions to enable the workforce in the home, on the road and, more worryingly, on holiday. The mobile phone is now becoming the new laptop, and who is better to offer the communications platform than Facebook, in theory?
There are very few companies who can operate in any field they want to but Facebook is one. Irrelevant of age, location or demographic, Facebook has strong credibility, trust and outreach. Most people probably wouldn’t think twice about downloading the Workplace app onto their phone as they already will have a Facebook app on there in any case. 1.7 billion people already use Facebook around the world and this familiarity could be a fantastic weapon for the team to use in the collaboration and enterprise communications market.
Bearing this in mind, there may be several technology firms who might be a bit nervous. The communications market is already a competitive area with Yammer, Skype, Slack, Chatter from Salesforce, Hipchat, Jive and numerous others. Facebook has the credibility and scalability to be a prominent player in this market.
In terms of pricing, Facebook is seemingly trying to undercut the market. Facebook will charge $3 per user per month for the first 1,000, $2 per user between 1,000 and 10,000; and $1 for any others beyond that. Slack charges $8 per user per month for its standard product and $15 per user per month for the upgraded offering. Yammer offers various pricing plans ranging from $3 per user per month to $24. Jive ranges from $5 per user per month through to $16. Although the other offerings are likely to include more features for the moment, it is highly likely Emperor Zuckerberg has got a team of engineers working furiously away in the background to make up this ground.
For the most part it would appear the team are focusing on tackling smaller businesses in the first instance, as simplicity in deployment is a message here, though as the features build so will the outreach. Facebook isn’t going to take over the enterprise communications and mobility market overnight, but those who already in this space should certainly be worried.
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