Facebook’s Workplace Keeps Expanding

The latest twist on collaboration software.

Project collaboration has always been a concern to managers.  It is essential to keep everyone rowing in the same direction.  In the past, this was accomplished by conducting meetings, preferably before the work day begins.  However, due to our fast paced world, it can be difficult to get the project team together.  To overcome this problem, we have turned to technology.

Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) offered one of the first ways to allow birds of a feather to discuss topics of mutual interest and share files.  These were eventually phased out as the Internet grew in stature.  By itself, the Internet became the de facto standard for people in the workplace to communicate and exchange files.

Then along comes Lotus Notes in 1989 (now IBM Notes).  Originally a mainframe based system that has migrated down to smart phones, it represents a collaboration tool offering e-mail, calendars, and business applications.  Actually, it was quite a good product for its time.  Although it is not entirely dead, it’s market share has diminished.

A 10
However, with the advent of smart phones, instant messaging, social media, and VoIP, something was needed that is more in tune with how people today use technology.One such product is Microsoft’s SharePoint which was commercially released in 2003.   The product is typically bundled with Microsoft Office and is primarily used for document management and storage.  Between Office and SharePoint, thousands of companies use it for collaboration purposes.  As such, it dominates the marketplace.

Launched in 2013, “Slack,” a collaboration tool used by communities, groups and teams offers chat rooms, direct messaging, and group telephone calls.  It also integrates with a large number of third-party services.

Now along comes “Workplace” from Facebook which is based on the popular social media which millennials are more familiar.  Introduced in a press release on October 10th, the product has been described as a “buffed-up chat room and team management software.”  Unlike products like IBM Notes, “Workplace” is primarily a communications tool, not a project management package or office suite, at least not yet.  It currently includes Instant Messaging, e-mail, VoIP, and file sharing.  In a way, it’s not too dissimilar than what the BBS packages originally offered except for a slicker appearance, portability, and greater ease of use.

Facebook claims “Workplace” was originally developed internally within the company, and has been testing it with other businesses.  According to their press release:

“We’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace — whether it’s basic infrastructure such as News Feed, or the ability to create and share in Groups or via chat, or useful features such as Live, Reactions, Search and Trending posts.  This means you can chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with your CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.”

As for me, I question the necessity of keeping workers plugged into smart phones 24/7.  I cannot help but believe this will become an interference which will hinder productivity.

Pricing is based on volume of users within a company, for example:

Free 3 month trial, followed by:
$3/person – Up to 1k monthly active users
$2/person – 1,001 – 10k monthly active users
$1/person – 10,001+ monthly active users

“Workplace” is also available free of charge for Non-Profits and Educational Institutions.  Both High Schools and Colleges should investigate this further, as should businesses with people who are smart phone savvy.

Look for Facebook’s “Workplace” on the Internet at:
https://www.facebook.com/workplace
or
https://workplace.fb.com/

As for Microsoft’s SharePoint and Slack, they should be hearing footsteps.

Keep the Faith!

 

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Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and management consultant located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. As an avid writer and speaker, Tim discusses everything from business and management, to politics and morality, to systems and technology, and our ever changing world. His columns are educational and entertaining, discussing the things we tend to take for granted or overlook in our walk through life. He has published over a thousand such articles. In addition to his columns, Tim's audio segments are syndicated on the radio and in podcasts. He is also a former correspondent for the Tampa Tribune. As a management consultant, Tim specializes in systems and technology. He has traveled extensively around the world training and supporting a variety of companies of all sizes and shapes, from the boardroom to the trenches. Tim has authored several books on a variety of computer and management related subjects including "The IRM Revolution: Blueprint for the 21st Century" which was on the Top Ten list in Japan, and penned the "PRIDE" Methodologies for IRM." More recently, he published a four volume set entitled, "Bryce’s Uncommon Sense Series." Tim graduated from Ohio University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. His blog can be found at: timbryce.com E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @timbryce