Facebook has finally entered the enterprise, but its Workplace offering faces obstacles from business context to data security. Facebook, however, is not alone in facing these problems.
Then there is the issue with Facebook’s promise that Workplace will all but eliminate email – a promise made by a plethora of other software companies and a promise made by Facebook despite the fact that the company still relies on email for external comms.
“Email is the one place people already spend their worktime; it’s the one place they go to receive and share information with colleagues, partners, customers, and suppliers,” Mr Lavenda told CBR.
“What is the upside for abandoning email for Facebook? A better UI? A better sharing experience? Replacing email with Facebook will take more than just having a familiar UI.”
The problem with Facebook killing email also gives rise to another key issue – one that I have already alluded to in regards to Facebook using email for external communications. Workplace is a proprietary technology, meaning that you can only communicate with people using the same software. This, Mr Lavenda argues, will cause people to turn to the one tool which Facebook promised to kill with Workplace.
“You can’t communicate with people outside the organization using Workplace. So what will they use? Email. In fact, you can communicate with everybody using email, in no small part because email is a standard. So to which tool will people gravitate?”
The last point as to why Workplace will not succeed is data security, with Mr Lavenda asking, “what do people think of giving yet more information to companies like Facebook… regardless of all its assurances that it won’t be used?” In answer to that question, SAS research found that 68% of millennials – the demographic targeted by Workplace – are now uncomfortable sharing data with social media companies due to privacy concerns.
Workplace, however, is not alone in many of the concerns raised by Mr Lavenda. Slack, for example, is a proprietary platform just like Workplace. You then have other vendors who have a different set of shortcomings; Microsoft lacks business apps needed to get work done, while IBM falls short on support apps from vendors. All these companies are promising to do away with email and kick-start a new era of digital collaboration and productivity in the workplace – however, the key may lie in the one tool everyone is trying to get rid of, from a company which no one may know of…yet.
“I think a startup will emerge that will be able to overcome all these obstacles and leverage email to become the unifying factor that will bring in apps from many vendors, will bring the conversation to the email client where people already spend their work time AND will be able to organize information so people can focus on the work topics/subjects rather than on navigating the specific tools and interfaces,” Mr Lavenda told CBR.
The puzzle that is enterprise collaboration is one that will not be solved soon – our multi-vendor world is giving businesses different sets of tools with varying success. There is yet to be seen one stand out winner – which is why I am now off to check my emails.