Facebook Says It Is Making Workplace More Business-Like
As Facebook faces another controversy over policing content, the world’s largest social network will try to focus on how it is building a business franchise.
At its F8 developer conference on Tuesday, the company is talking up how it’s making Facebook Workplace—the business version it launched last year—more attractive to IT pros who must worry about how and where corporate information is used and shared.
Workplace is now in use at approximately 14,000 organizations worldwide—up from 1,000 last year, according to Julien Codorniou, vice president of Facebook Workplace, who spoke with Fortune prior to the event.
For one, Facebook (FB) is working to make Workplace compatible with existing compliance and e-discovery tools. (E-discovery refers to technology that ferrets out documents or other content that can be used in legal proceedings.) That means ensuring that documents and other content can be shared only with authorized users in order to limit the risk of data loss. Partners here include Netskope, SkyHigh Networks, CSDisco, and Smarsh.
“The compliance integrations stood out to me,” said IDC analyst John Jackson. “Compliance is about as exciting as watching dirt, but lack of it is an excuse big companies use not to move to new software. Facebook’s idea here is to let enterprises use the compliance tools they already have and take away that reason not to move, and that’s a big deal.”
Facebook executives said these new integrations—along with existing support for two-factor authentication and Workplace’s ability to work with existing identity management providers like Okta (OKTA)—should boost its credibility among IT departments that need to keep corporate assets secure and within respective networks.
Also new to Workplace is the ability to use Facebook Live with professional gear to stream video to colleagues. There is also a new integration with Blue Jean Networks, which offers cloud-based video, to enable more professional broadcasting for video conferences.
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“I can be in London, Julien can be in Paris, and Vanessa in Menlo Park, and we can broadcast our meeting and presentations,” Simon Cross, a Workplace product manager, told Fortune.
Developers now can build “bots” to run inside Workplace chat and groups to automate common processes. If a user flags @support, for example he or she can launch a help desk ticket.
“We co-exist with other messaging apps, but we also want to connect everyone in the company, including people without desktops,” Codorniu said.
Codorniu and Cross pointed out to Starbucks’ use of Workplace as key to adding a popular new drink to the menu. Apparently, one Starbucks started making a custom drink for a few customers. Then the beverage started trending on Instagram, and customers saw that and started requesting the drink at different outlets. Starbucks managers then started chatting about that on Workplace, and when related posts hit 30 or 40 per day, central management decided to add the drink—The Pink Drink to be exact— to the menu.
But Cross said it has a broader reach: “We compete with pieces of paper taped to the break room door. When you go into a retail company of 10,000 people, no one except those in the head office has email or a desk or a laptop. We want to connect everyone.”
Note: (April 18, 2017 4:16 p.m.) This story was updated to reflect that Facebook Live video now works with professional video gear
(April 19, 2017, 7:34 a.m.) This story was updated to reflect Facebook’s assertion that there is now Dropbox integration as well,