Author(s): Raghu Gopal
On Monday, Facebook launched Workplace, a communication platform which enables co-workers to collaborate behind a company firewall using Facebook-styled software with a professional tint. Workplace had been in pilot testing since January 2015 under the name Facebook at Work.
Workplace is separate from employees' personal Facebook accounts and includes ways for people to communicate and share ideas at work. Employees can use the Facebook News Feed to stay updated on company announcements, join groups to collaborate, share photos and videos, create events, send messages, participate in instant chats, and get notifications about topics important to them.
Workplace is Facebook's most significant move to date into enterprise software and will offer some potential competition to a host of players including Slack, Google's G Suite and Salesforce Quip for example. Facebook's focus is to drive usage among employees, but it will also need to keep improving its security, compliance and manageability for enterprises in order to compete against these players that have a head start.
Like Google, Facebook will not generate revenue from ads but will charge its enterprise clients a monthly subscription fee: $3 per user per month for the first 1,000 users; for enterprises with 1,001 to 10,000 employees the charge is $2 per user per month. For companies with more than 10,000 users, the fee will be $1 per user per month. Initially, Facebook is offering a three-month free trial of Workplace.
This is a very keen pricing strategy compared with that of rival Slack, which charges $8 or $15 per user per month for two sets of features, although the price can come down on an annual subscription model.
With Workplace, Facebook is bringing a name familiar to users, repurposing its popularity to be integrated into the fabric of a company's operations. It already has more than 1,000 customers for the service including Danone, Royal Bank of Scotland, Starbucks and Telenor. Facebook is one of the de facto platforms for global personal communication and now hopes to port that same success over to the enterprise space. New clients will certainly move cautiously given that most have been blocking the use of Facebook in the office. But Facebook can wait until it establishes a professional reputation.