Facebook At Work, should it be released in early 2015, isn’t likely to make a dramatic appearance on the market for enterprise social computing solutions. It’s not as if consumers of this kind of computing solution have few choices. But the market is constrained and, perhaps, for a set of good reasons:
- Hierarchical organizations have demonstrated substantial resistance to enterprise social computing solutions
- Facebook at work appears to be taking a path into the enterprise leading through BYOD and BYOA, and the consumerization of IT computing
- Organizations supporting lots of silos have not demonstrated much success implementing enterprise social computing solutions
- It’s unlikely Facebook at work will introduce any new features beyond those already offered by entrenched competitors
- Neither is it likely Facebook will offer anything like the analytics tools already available to enterprise social consumers using tools offered by Microsoft, IBM, or even Google
So if this rumored suite of tools isn’t likely to make much of an impression on the enterprise social market, then why all the publicity about it? One can argue Facebook is the leading solutions provider for social computing; therefore, any step they take in an enterprise computing direction is worth some commentary. But this argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The history of the efforts of a number of other solutions designed for the enterprise social computing market is not filled with a lot of clearly successful efforts. Bottom line: enterprise social computing is a special kind of requirement, not necessarily a right step for the average organization and, potentially, a detriment to its healthy performance.
But perhaps Facebook, itself, is powering a lot of the “online chatter”. They certainly have a lot to gain should they establish a position as a serious option for this type of computing for enterprise-class organizations. Further, if they approach the market from the direction of LinkedIn, as the article from the UK Daily Mail contends, they will have more to gain. Popping up as a competitor to Yammer will require a lot more work on the backend then Facebook is likely to want to undertake. Even more, it will require Facebook sales and marketing personnel to win over prospects from enterprise IT organizations — not likely to happen anytime soon, in the opinion of this writer.
Taking a piece of LinkedIn’s business with corporate recruiters and the executive search firms supporting them is another matter, and one where Facebook looks like a real force, especially when their expertise in the mobile ad serving market is factored in to the equation.
Ira Michael Blonder
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