Features We Want to See in a 'Facebook at Work' Enterprise Service

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-11-18
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Features We Want to See in a 'Facebook at Work' Enterprise Service
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    Features We Want to See in a 'Facebook at Work' Enterprise Service

    By Don Reisinger
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    It Must Be as Relevant as LinkedIn
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    It Must Be as Relevant as LinkedIn

    One of the first things Facebook must do with its enterprise social network is prove to customers that its service is actually relevant. LinkedIn has done that brilliantly by connecting people in the hopes of helping them build their businesses or careers. Facebook needs to find the same path to relevance by trying to help its users not only stay in contact but also build business. If it can't achieve that, it'll have real trouble.
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    It Needs the Right Collaboration Tools
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    It Needs the Right Collaboration Tools

    Facebook is already big enough to provide a wide range of tools to customers. On one hand, it can be a social network, and on the other, it can provide collaboration tools similar to those like Skype for Business, Yammer and SharePoint. Some collaboration tools scaled for corporate work groups could go a long way toward improving Facebook at Work's appeal.
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    Third-Party App Support Will Be Crucial
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    Third-Party App Support Will Be Crucial

    Corporate customers will expect to be able to extend Facebook at Work with their internally developed apps and secure third-party apps. That's why Facebook should launch its own application marketplace for Facebook at Work that would give third-party developers support and extend the basic service. The more third-party apps that are available for Facebook at Work, the more likely it will succeed.
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    Data Ownership
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    Data Ownership

    Facebook has long been criticized by users concerned about the privacy of the personal information they post on the site. Some users argue that it's too difficult to get data off the site. That can't be an issue in the enterprise. Facebook must make it abundantly clear to corporate customers that proprietary corporate data is inviolate. Facebook won't own the data in any form. Customers must be assured that they can take all of their data with them if they decide to leave the service. Absent that, Facebook at Work will fail.
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    Give It Strong and Secure IT Controls
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    Give It Strong and Secure IT Controls

    Providing some back-end management for the IT side is another crucial component for Facebook at Work. The feature would allow IT managers to determine the level of access employees will have to the platform according to their roles and responsibilities. If Facebook at Work will be a collaborative tool, it needs to provide some back-end management.
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    Security Must Be a Battle Cry
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    Security Must Be a Battle Cry

    Security is everything in the corporate world, especially if companies are entrusting another with sensitive data. Facebook must make security its top priority and guarantee not only that data will be kept as secure as possible but that its service's uptime will be as close to 100 percent as possible. Uptime and security are crucial for Facebook at Work to, well, work.
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    It Should Include Text, Voice and Video Features
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    It Should Include Text, Voice and Video Features

    It seems rather obvious that Facebook will include a chat function in the service, but the company should consider adding voice and video communication as well. Some of the better products on the market, including Skype for Business, support the three major communication avenues, which means there's no excuse for Facebook to not follow suit.
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    There Must Be a Clear Line Between Facebook and Facebook at Work
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    There Must Be a Clear Line Between Facebook and Facebook at Work

    Although it's likely that Facebook at Work users would log in to the service with their personal credentials, the social network must ensure that there is a clear delineation between work and play. In some corporate environments, Facebook is banned entirely. Facebook must acknowledge that and reassure corporate customers that it won't create an at Work environment that relies on giving users the ability to quickly and freely switch between their corporate and personal accounts.
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    Integration With Other Services Might Be a Good Idea
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    Integration With Other Services Might Be a Good Idea

    While having a third-party app platform should help Facebook, the company shouldn't shy away from partnering with companies like Microsoft, Google, IBM and others to find ways to integrate its service into their solutions. The more ways in which Facebook at Work can be utilized through tools companies are already employing, the better.
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    Could a Totally Free Service Work?
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    Could a Totally Free Service Work?

    Although LinkedIn has a free tier as do other corporate social platforms, the general business model requires a premium service that generates subscriber revenue. The main reason for that, as Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz points out, is that market is a "low margin business where cost of sales can be high." While that means Facebook is certain to offer some kind of paid service, the company should at least consider keeping it free and finding other ways to generate cash. And yes, that might mean ads.
 

While Facebook and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg have made their fortune on providing a social service to consumers, it appears now that they're thinking its time they aligned the social network closer to the enterprise. It appears Facebook is ready to introduce an enterprise social media service called Facebook at Work that would take aim at other networks that have long been positioned as business collaboration networks such as LinkedIn and Yammer. While there are plenty of business people who use Facebook to promote products or connect with customers and partners, Facebook may be arriving too late to the game to persuade enterprises to adopt Facebook at Work. Plus, enterprises may be concerned about the privacy and security of corporate data shared on Facebook. However, Forrester Research released a statement Nov. 17 saying that Facebook brings a number of advantages to the field. "Facebook certainly has a familiar user experience that people love, and could blur the lines between employees and customers in a very compelling way," Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz said in the statement. "They have the ability to drive enterprises toward new levels of customer activation." So what will it take to win business users? This slide show looks at some features we would like to see in Facebook at Work.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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