Workplace by Facebook Evolving with Partners

Facebook's annual F8 Developer Conference kicked off yesterday in San Jose, Calif., and the news quickly began pouring out of the event. There's a lot of ground to cover in regard to Facebook's enterprise play, Workplace, so hold on tight.

As many regular No Jitter readers will recall, Facebook launched its enterprise-focused collaboration product, Workplace, in October 2016 following extensive piloting that began as early as January 2015.

Since launching six months ago, Workplace has expanded quite a bit in customer base and functionality. Among the news Facebook shared this week is that it has grown the number of companies using Workplace from 1,000 to 14,000, with quite a few big company names among them, including Starbucks, Viacom, Discovery Communications, and Campbell's, to name a few. Workplace is in use on every continent -- even Antarctica -- and is available in 77 languages, reported Simon Cross, Workplace product manager, in a company blog post.

In terms of functionality, Facebook gave us a look at some new integrations and partnerships aimed at helping companies "improve their day-to-day workflows, ensure regulatory compliance and enable richer communication using [Facebook] Live video," as Cross wrote. And, as previously reported and now confirmed, Facebook has a new pricing plan for Workplace that comprises standard and premium versions.

For now, Workplace Premium is free for anyone to trial. But starting in October, enterprises will need to pay for the Premium Plan ($3 per user for the first 1,000 active users, $2 per user for the next 9,000 active users, $1 for each additional active user). However, Facebook announced yesterday that it has begun to test a free, self-serve version of the product for which anyone can sign up. The Standard plan is now listed on the Workplace website as "Coming soon."

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Partnerships Abound

On the integration front, Facebook has outlined a list of its global Workplace Service Partners, and this week it announced new integrations with Microsoft, Salesforce and Quip, Dropbox, and Box. "Files, documents and CRM are a critical part of daily work life," Cross wrote. "As Workplace becomes the primary place where people in organizations go to share information and have discussions, we needed to make working with these technologies fast and reliable for a better work experience."

In addition, the company is championing the developer, building on its bot mentality announced at last year's F8 conference around the consumer-oriented Facebook Messenger application. In order to help companies that don't have the developer chops they need to integrate with Workplace, Facebook is partnering with bot platforms catering to companies without necessary technical staff -- in other words, no lines of code required. Facebook's announced bot platform partners are Converse, PullString, The Bot Platform, kore.ai, and Avaamo.

"Bots have become a simple and powerful way for people to interact with services they use day-to-day," Cross wrote. "Starting today, Workplace customers can build custom bots ... that allow people to interact with other tools and services from within Workplace."

For enterprises in more heavily regulated industries, Facebook announced partnerships and integrations for eDiscovery, data loss, and compliance to give enterprises the tools they need to manage security and access control, Cross wrote. These partners are CSDisco, Netskope, Smarsh, and Skyhigh. Furthermore, organizations with specific requirements now have the option to subscribe to webhooks to manage Workplace activity in real time. For example, an organization could use a webhook to notify an admin that a critical conversation has taken place so that, say, a financial services firm can export, back up, and store that conversation data to satisfy regulatory requirements. p>

More Partners: Video Expansion

By now, most people are familiar with Facebook Live, even if only through personal use on the consumer-focused platform. In the Workplace realm, Live video is often used for broadcasting weekly meetings, streaming live Q&As, or even for virtual training classes, Facebook reported. But because the enterprise often demands higher quality than a smartphone camera can provide, Facebook announced this week that it is now supporting the streaming of Live into Workplace using the Real-Time Messaging Protocol API that underpins Facebook Live.

It also has named a handful of new video partners. Hardware and software encoder partners include Teradek, Epiphan Video, Elemental, Haivision, OBS Studio, and Black Magic. Named production partners are Live Media Group, Pixel Corps, Groovy Gecko, Stream Shark, AMV Digital Media, OBS, and Wowza.

Plus, with a newly announced partnership with BlueJeans Network, enterprises will now be able to stream multiparty video meetings directly to Workplace.

Moving Forward

"... today is simply the next step we're taking to connect everyone at work," Cross wrote. "At Facebook, we often remind ourselves that we're only 1% done. At Workplace, we're just getting started."

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