Weekly Update

The impact of Facebook at Work? Huge.

Last week, Facebook announced the initial beta rollout of Facebook at Work, a version of the company’s flagship product configured for use as work media (‘enterprise social network’ or ‘social collaboration’). The iOS version is available for download. To actually use it, however, your company will have to be admitted to the beta, at this time.

Screenshot 2015-01-19 08.43.45 Screenshot 2015-01-19 08.44.05 Screenshot 2015-01-19 08.44.18

In principle, [email protected] is a productization of how Facebook is used at Facebook internally. I have not gotten a demo yet, but I hope to soon. Many descriptions have surfaced of how it’s supposed to work, as well as a Facebook at Work help page. Basically, users can create groups that match interests, projects, or organizational groups. Users can share events and calendars. [email protected] or Facebook Messenger can be used for direct 1:1 or 1:many chatting. Users can keep work and personal Facebook information separate, and can create a separate @work profile.

Vindu Goel was briefed by Lars Rasmussen, and my questions about the [email protected] newsfeed have been answered. I wondered if the newstream was going to be deterministic, or would Facebook be applying some filtering algorithm (see Facebook rolling out limited beta of Facebook At Work). I stated,

What I wonder about is the determinacy needed in business. If I post something in [email protected], I want to know that everyone that I intended to see it does in fact see it. That’s not how the Facebook newsfeed works today, at least in the consumer edition.

It appears that determinacy is absent, however. As Goel states,

A news feed sorts through posts it thinks are relevant to you, based on familiar factors like how often you interact with the person posting it, who you specifically want to follow and how many comments or likes a particular item is getting. “We keep track of who in the past you’ve been interested in,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

I think that might be problematic, unless the algorithm is always right, or unless people rely on direct messaging for anything that is critical.

Facebook has 1.35 billion users, and as a result the learning curve for [email protected] will be negligible, with even a large number of older workers now using it. In fact, the 55+ crowd is the fastest growing segment.

Facebook is going to be a major disruption to the work media marketplace, once they get all the pieces in place. At present, the service lacks integration with file sync-and-share services, which is an odd omission. I wonder if Facebook uses no files internally, or if in fact they have a homegrown file sharing capability that was not scalable? Or if they are madly scurrying to productize it, and plan to contend in that market sector, too?

Companies that have an investment in Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or other file sync-and-share service are unlikely to transition to [email protected] and a new file sync-and-share service at the same time. But this is simply a hypothetical scenario, based on Facebook’s history of wanting everything.

The bottom line? Nothing will be the same again.