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Facebook for Work is still in the works, but competitors were quick to criticise the social media giant for its relative lack of experience in the enterprise

Facebook for Work is still in the works, but competitors were quick to criticise the social media giant for its relative lack of experience in the enterprise

As Facebook announced the limited launch of Facebook for Work, the company’s attempt to pivot into the cloud-based enterprise collaboration space, competitors were quick to criticise the social media giant for its lack of experience in the enterprise.

Facebook for Work, which is being tested by Facebook and a “few partners” said to include some of the biggest brands globally, is being pitched as a platform to keep co-workers in touch in the same familiar way millions already do using the popular social media platform.

“Note that Facebook at Work was created completely for use within a company – that means employees’ Facebook at Work info is safe, secure, confidential and completely separate from their personal Facebook profile. The info shared among employees is only accessible to people in the company,” a Facebook spokesperson told BCN.

Software companies like Box, Yammer, Huddle and Workshare are all trying to carve out a unique space for themselves in the enterprise collaboration arena and most agree that it’s reasonable to expect a company like Facebook, which already manages so many interactions outside of work (and often to the dismay of managers and IT departments, inside work) to have a go at it.

While details about how much control IT will have over Facebook for Work are scarce, some – mainly the company’s competitors – have already hit out at the social media giant for its relative lack of experience in enterprise software.

“This is the same site where members share everything and anything with ‘Friends’. People of all ages leave privacy at the door when they sign-in to Facebook. You can essentially equate Facebook to the party guy you want to hang out with on Friday night who’s funny, popular and a bit crazy – but would you want to work with him?,” explained Nicholas Scholz, global product manager, collaboration at Novell.

“Keeping the workplace IT environment safe and secure is a huge priority for IT departments. With this in mind, it’s unlikely that Facebook will be able to stop IT from feeling comfortable with the safety of their information. Facebook may well be the guy you want at every party – but it’s probably not the person the majority would like running collaboration in your business,” Scholz added.

Tristan Rogers, chief executive officer of Concrete, an enterprise content management and collaboration service provider, said that while Facebook for Work was “inevitable” one of the main problems with it is that it doesn’t offer a clear value proposition, and that the principles upon which the service operates in the consumer realm conflict with the aims of enterprises.

“What about its ethos; its business DNA? As a social network, Facebook is built on the principle that people “want” to share information with each other. It is a voluntary network with no predetermined goals or outcomes. One can do what they want on Facebook with whomever they wish. That is not very “enterprise”,” Rogers explained.

“An enterprise is built on pre-defined rules about outcomes, quantities, margins and repeatability. Workers are given roles and responsibilities, and the ability to perform these to the best of their ability can drive their personal success.”

“Do you remember Yammer – The Enterprise Social Network? Microsoft bought it for $1.2bn with revenues of around $20m, generating a circa 60x multiple. Why? Because it had 100m users. And some schmuck at Microsoft thought that $10 CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) was cheap, when actually it was cack.”

The billion dollar issue with enterprise software, he explained, is that it has to drive value. If it doesn’t offer value within the enterprise, people simply won’t use it.

“That’s what happened to Yammer. And that is what could happen to ‘Facebook at Work’ unless it can work out what the value proposition is for the enterprise,” he added.

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