Everybody is talking about Facebook At Work – Now what?

By Sebastian Thielke Feb 22, 2016
Everybody is talking about Facebook At Work – Now what?

The company Facebook now launches onto the market of Enterprise Social Network applications with Facebook at work.  Obviously, this step has not been without a disturbance in the Force. The social software appears with quite an emphasis and public impact. After all, it references and combines an element that we long perceive as commonplace - our daily Facebook. It is important to look closely at this operator in the market, especially to see what is happening and what is supposed to happen. In this sense, the market is nothing new. However, Facebook at work offers itself in a time of upheaval. With other applications like Slack, it appears on a weary market that screams out for simplicity and mobility. How is this to be considered now?

We as Beck et al. Services could now indulge in a comprehensive and omnipotent wisdom and tell you: Facebook at work is just a trend, they lack the experience we have. And we would fall into the trap of prophecy. Because what is really behind it, only those know who were allowed to touch it, and that number is clear. One aspect of the marketing is that Facebook at work will not be given to consultants, etc., because, according to their own statements, that is not needed.


If you go back just three steps, then you can also take in three points of view, which deal with the subject of Facebook at work:

  • Attention for social software in the enterprise increases tremendously
  • The world, the Facebook at Work will encounter – empirical values
  • Business models, Security and the Why

All these points provide a broad spectrum of discussion. We should consider each of them by themselves, and then the attempt to draw the big picture. Nevertheless, it is not recommended to make a diagnosis about success and failure, enforcement and rejection. That would be highly speculative without the necessary background knowledge.

The disservice

Facebook at work creates a perception that has not been achieved so far with the topic of networked collaboration. It arrives at the appropriate time where applications like Slack shake up the “old” market. In addition, there is the high level of attention towards the digital transformation that takes hold more and more in German companies.

The market launch of this social software sharpens the perception of companies. Thus, failed projects can possibly be restarted and they are checked for the corresponding suitability.

Facebook at work uses the same proven and established mechanisms that also work in the private environment when using Social Media. The recognition factor is like a value of reliving. The user experience is actually the same. Whether this is purposeful is again another matter. I for one would like more diversity in the applications and not always the same box. However, it is a decisive factor for the acceptance, penetration and daily use.

There is, for example a detailed functional overview in this post, announcing the revolution of the working world. Of course, we have heard all of this before. And, it is mainly about communication. All this bears definitely the potential that the companies will become interested and that the staff show more courage and experimentation this time, because this is a known environment.

Know the worlds

Far more interesting from the perspective of our experiences will be what worlds Facebook at work will encounter. Of course, we could spill the beans. The challenges that the large corporations, small businesses and enterprises see for themselves, are not comparable with the private Facebook world. There is a reason why it is called: corporate culture.

How people behave in an organization differs in many respects from their private world. In the microcosm of corporate culture, there are politics, conflicts of interest, cooperation but also anxieties and annoyances. How to behave privately, partly deviates from the corporate world and therefore also the usage behavior for certain environments.

In addition, large enterprises require adjustment, adaptation and integration into an existing world. Here will be a major challenge for Facebook at work from a technical standpoint. The heterogeneous applications world of organizations is elaborate and less flexible in the integration of new applications.

The greatest evidence of benefit Facebook at work must show in connection with Business Collaboration. If we take the current functions, then a clear focus on the real work integration and mainly easing the workload is missing here. Here Facebook at work is on the same field with applications such as Yammer. Crucial features are missing in the business aspect. How do you deal with files, how is content created together and how an effective and goal-oriented cooperation will take place. For this purpose, the functionality of FB@Work is very thin. However, it is not in sight what opens up here in the future.

What does Facebook want to achieve?

Once we approach this point of view, we naturally must draw the business model of Facebook into consideration. Why has Facebook made the step towards Enterprise Social Network? What are the goals behind it? What must be considered? Who owns the data? What all does Facebook as a company get to see?

By now, Facebook is a part of our world. There is daily communication via the network. Still, you log in and out again. You switch back and forth. Thus, it is of course difficult for Facebook to know its users and to keep them. Accordingly, one could insinuate that Facebook places its presence in all areas of our everyday life. Just imagine this: You come to work, open your digital workplace and are on Facebook at work with a business account. The transition to Facebook is easy. The private and the business accounts are connected.  You do not have to leave the application anymore, and just move in between. Facebook now knows you a lot better and adjusts Streams, News, Interests and Advertisements even more to you. The potential for Facebook: Enormous and inexhaustible.

But what is in this context to data security, the right to personal data and so on? It is unclear how the product Facebook at work is offered. In many scenarios, it is available to businesses via cloud. The server locations and centers are not known. Maybe a move by marketing: shortage. Only insiders get the information.

Salami tactics or marketing move?

We will briefly touch on the viewpoint of the How and of the path Facebook at work pushes into the market here. They try to generate at least an exclusivity with the invitations and scarcity model. The bothersome thing here is that the philosophy of networking, visibility and transparency is reduced to absurdity. The Together of Facebook is no longer being lived. The achievements of social media have no place here. What is to be the communications revolution in companies is shot down through the own communication: We do not talk to anyone and do not want to reveal ourselves. The manner in the market appearance of Facebook at Work contradicts the principle and makes it untrustworthy.

Conclusion thoughts

It is difficult to guess what now evolves out of the imposing market appearance of Facebook at Work. It has potential and it is familiar. However, it lacks the business case for the companies, and what Facebook intends with its model in the end is even more difficult to detect. However, it lacks the business case for the companies, and it is even more difficult to detect what Facebook intends with its model after all.

An important player comes on the field with Facebook at Work, it has a predefined fan base behind it, but it is not clear how it fits into the team. That is why we should keep an eye on it. It might just surprise us.

About the author

Sebastian Thielke Consultant für Digital Transformation
Social Business und Enterprise 2.0 - Strategieentwicklung, Enablement, Kommunikation sowie Wertschöpfung mit dem Hauptaugenmerk: Der Mensch macht das Unternehmen.