Can Facebook at Work Win Business?
Over the past few years, developers have taken a different approach to business software. No longer are all office-centric apps as boring and functional as a pipe wrench; new platforms such as Slack (a communications tool for employees) aim to inject a bit of fun into the daily workflow. Now Facebook, notorious for distracting employees from that daily workflow, plans on launching its Facebook at Work platform after nearly a year of closed testing. Although meant for businesses, Facebook at Work will feature many of the same properties that define the existing Facebook, including the newsfeed and chat, with one exception—you can’t play games. “You cannot play Candy Crush on Facebook at Work,” Julien Codorniou, director of global platform partnerships at Facebook, told Reuters. The lack of games will likely come as a relief to any managers who decide that Facebook at Work will serve as an effective way for employees to collaborate and communicate. Facebook itself, however, will face significant competition if it wants to carve off a chunk of the business market—not only from smaller startups such as Slack, but also big players along the lines of Salesforce and Yammer, many of which have already incorporated social-networking aspects into their respective platforms. Unlike conventional Facebook, which is free, Facebook at Work will charge a fee for features such as analytics and customer support. Facebook’s impressive quarterly revenue from its core businesses also ensures that the company can stick with this initiative for some time to come, but that’s no guarantee of success—some of its highest-profile projects have failed spectacularly.