After a year and a half in closed beta under the title – Facebook at Work, Facebook has finally introduced its enterprise-centered messaging and social networking service to the market under the name “Workplace”.
Launching as a mobile and desktop app with Chat direct messaging, Live video, video and audio calling, News feed, Groups for both your company and with others, translation features and Reactions, Workplace is now opening up to anyone to use. To really stand out from the others in the market and gain critical mass for the product, Facebook is not only pursuing the typical “white collar” and “knowledge worker” type companies who are the usual ones to use enterprise messaging software. Rather, Facebook is looking to attract a much wider global wedge of employees who serve customers and maintain machines, people who may already be using Facebook in their non-working life but who have rarely been co-opted into an organization’s wider digital collaboration efforts in the past. What Facebook is looking to do is build an enterprise software the Facebook way.
The introduction of Workplace comes after a long number of competing services that have made their mark and picked up considerable traction in the area of enterprise communication and messaging like Yammer, Jive, Slack, Hipchat and many others. While Workplace may not be the first in the market of its kind, it’s hoping to attract people with a few unique twists.
One of these unique features is the pricing. Enterprise software companies usually follow a few standard business models. But Facebook has decided to forgo most of the standard business models and, are instead, opting to take a page from its own book of metrics.
Facebook is going to offer everyone the same features, and charge for Workplace by monthly active users – defined, in this case, as opening up and using Workplace at least once a month. This means that what is being bought becomes more transparent to the customer and Facebook holds itself more accountable for the service. In short, customers pay only for what they are actually using, and Facebook only gets paid for how engaging and appealing it’s managed to make the service; very much like ads that run on the platform.
While Facebook is charging for Workplace, making millions from it doesn’t appear to be its initial goal. Rather, the goal is to gain some critical mass for the product. Before monetization, Facebook is focusing on growing it for the first few years.
Another reason why this venture of Facebook might succeed is based on the fact that it works just like Facebook itself. This means that people will be largely familiar with how the product looks and works. Workplace features a News Feed. There are Groups that can be built within a company and with colleagues at other organizations too. There is Live video as well as group video and audio calling. There is a Messenger counterpart that Facebook refers to as “Chat”. People can comment on posts with multi-emotional Reactions and there are automatic translation features too.
For now, the message to the market may be substantial enough: Facebook has become the prime platform for billions of consumers worldwide to communicate with each other in the digital world, and now it is confidently moving to be the same in the working world.