Facebook Ready for the Enterprise... at Long Last
Facebook releases Workplace by Facebook, more than a year and a half since announcing beta of an enterprise collaboration tool till now known as Facebook at Work.
If you've been following the Facebook at Work developments here on No Jitter and elsewhere across the Web, you might have heard the rumors that Facebook at Work is officially launching today. Well, the rumors are true, and we've got the 411 for you.
While Facebook at Work was officially unveiled in January 2015, the enterprise social collaboration tool has spent the time since in beta. During that time, we've heard of successful beta deployments from the likes of Canadian Tire (see "Facebook at Work Fuels Collaboration at Canadian Tire") and have gotten updates from Monica Adractas, Facebook's director, Americas, Facebook at Work.
Today, in a launch event taking place in London, the team behind Facebook at Work announced it is coming out of beta with a new name, "Workplace by Facebook" -- not to mention more than 1,000 companies already on the platform. According to official press materials on the launch, Workplace by Facebook is aimed at "any kind of organization, anywhere, that wants to break down silos and get the best out of their employees -- and do it on a familiar, mobile-first platform that requires virtually no training."
The launch of Workplace by Facebook means that the "heavy testing" phase is over, with piloting companies providing feedback that was then integrated into the final product. For example, leaders of piloting companies indicated that they wanted to be able to use Facebook Live video streaming to communicate to their employee base, so Facebook responded by building the Live functionality into Workplace. As another example, piloting companies expressed that they wanted Workplace to be separate from the consumer Facebook, so rather than integrating the two, Facebook kept them as separate desktop and mobile apps.
In addition to offering a new name and logo, this launch event also marks the availability of Workplace to any company that chooses to adopt it. In addition, a new monthly pricing model has been implemented that rewards companies for having a higher number of active users, rather than pricing per "seats," as is common with similar collaboration tool offerings. "The more active users and organization has, the less they pay per user," the company stated.
For companies with 1,000 monthly active users or less, the cost is $3 per user per month. For companies with 1,001 to 10,000 monthly active users, the cost is $2 per user per month. Finally, for businesses with 10,000+ monthly active users, the cost is $1 per user per month. As an added bonus, the first three months of Workplace use will be free for new companies. Additionally, Facebook PR representatives told me in a phone briefing that Workplace will be completely free for non-profits and educational institutions.
With the launch, Facebook is also introducing a Workplace Partner Program, which is a global ecosystem of partners with the common goal of helping users get the most out of Workplace, "from system and integration support to products that enhance Workplace." Facebook PR representatives told me that Deloitte is one of the companies involved in the partner program thus far, as well as OneLogin and others.
Finally, on the "what's new" front, Facebook indicated numerous product enhancements, from the previously mentioned Live capabilities, to Reactions (the extension of the Like button that's already implemented on consumer Facebook), video and group audio calling within Work Chat, Trending posts, search filters, and the introduction of multi-company groups.Introducing Multi-Company Groups
That last feature, "multi-company groups," is one of the big new items to come out of the launch. Multi-company groups enables sharing between different organizations. As stated in the Facebook press materials, "No organization is an island. Many companies have asked us for ways to interact with vendors, agencies and partners." Thus, multi-company groups was born.
As an example, a Workplace user might use a multi-company group to work with its design agency, share company news with its industry peers, or communicate with a supplier who might not be part of its everyday internal dealings. However, all members of the group must be a part of a Workplace community in order to participate in the multi-company group conversation. The multi-company group conversations are secret by default, so unless a user is in the group or has been invited to the group conversation, he or she won't even know of the group's existence. Facebook clarified that while people from more than one organization can be in a multi-company group, members won't be able to see any information about a company that takes place outside of the multi-company group.
Facebook announced that more than 1,000 companies already use Workplace, including big name businesses like Campbell's, ClubMed, and Save the Children, to name a few. Six months ago, that number was at 450 companies, while only 100 businesses were using it roughly a year ago. This clearly shows that Facebook has made a lot of headway in recent months with growing its Workplace customer base. The top adopters of Workplace by country are India, Norway, U.S., U.K., and France, according to Facebook, pointing to the global nature of the product.
While Workplace started with just a small team in London, it has since grown to be an international team with offices in North America, Europe, and Asia (see Beth Schultz's interview with Americas director Monica Adractas).
Through its extensive piloting and beta program, Facebook discovered that there is a particular demand for better collaboration tools from "entrenched enterprises" in traditional, global, and highly regulated verticals. In particular, businesses in highly regulated industries like banking and utilities have been able to move more quickly than expected to adopt Workplace.
Facebook noted that the diverse businesses adopting Workplace face very similar challenges -- mainly, the hunt to identify better ways to connect distributed workforces and make use of mobility.