Jan 16, 2015

Why FB@Work will not work #socbiz #ensw #facebookatwork

IMG_7440So the announcement is finally out, Facebook is out with its product for enterprises called FB@Work. According to techCrunch:

fbwork_press_newsfeedFacebook At Work features a News Feed of “what’s new and relevant at your company,” individual and group chat, Groups, and the ability to invite your whole company to events. Within Facebook At Work, you’ll be able to see content shared publicly on classic Facebook, but not anything shared more privately, like just with friends.
Privacy is not Facebook At Work’s strong suit. Anything you post to the feed can be seen by the whole company, meaning the product lacks granular privacy controls for now. And Facebook says that “The people who manage Facebook at Work at your company can access anything you share from your work account, just as they might access your work emails and other work files.” So bosses could snoop on your messages.
Companies can now apply for access to Facebook At Work with this sign-up page.
Rasmussen told Wired that in Facebook At Work, the News Feed will display posts from the colleagues you interact with most, and that posts that are endorsed by other teammates will spread further around the company.
Facebook has taken flack for its classic social network over-filtering of posts. Here it will have to be sure not to hide mission-critical information. Done right, it could save people’s sanity and allow them to stay concentrated.
The product will have to overcome the stigma against mixing work and pleasure, even though you can keep your Work profile totally separate from your personal one. Plus, Facebook’s shaky track record on confusing and shifting privacy controls could scare away CIOs. We’ll have to wait for more review-style reports to know how well the profile and News Feed serve these purposes, as Facebook At Work is still in private beta

For all it's pros, here is why I think FB@Work will "Not Work" - based on my experiences with helping and advising Indian companies over the last 5 years. These are similar to my thoughts about why Google+ wouldn't work for enterprise social networking that I posted in 2011.

  • larger organizations already have a collaboration software like Yammer (owned by Microsoft), Chatter (owned by Salesforce), Jive in place. Don't expect them to pull out their investments from these platforms into Facebook@Work
  • For smaller organizations FB@Work may work - if they can get their employees to use it in a regular basis - and that's a big "IF". I am not sure how businesses can encourage their employees to fill out an "at work" Facebook profile with data relevant to other colleagues who might need to reach out to you. I reckon businesses will need to give the role to a full-fledged "community manager" and am not sure if that will happen. 
  • We all have seen when an enterprise social network launches there is excitement and everybody starts posting there - and unless these are meaningful and work related soon everybody tires of the novelty and goes back to communicating via email. 
  • There's the privacy concern too - Facebook has visibility to all discussions about your work projects, your conversations with colleagues, managers, rewards - how comfortable will employees be if these are used for advertisement targeting as Sameer suggests?
I would love to be proved wrong, but I think it's not just a software play - and the dice is loaded against Facebook to make it work.

Oh and did you know that LinkedIn is entering the market with a product that will enable co-workers to connect with each other using InMail messages. I thought most organizations already had a tool that enabled that - it's called "email" :)

Here are more insights on FB@Work by my friends Sameer Patel and Alan Lepofsky.