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A year after launch, how has Facebook Workplace fared?

Matthew Finnegan | Oct. 4, 2017
With 14,000 organisations worldwide using its business collaboration app, Facebook has a foothold in the enterprise, but it faces stiff competition on multiple fronts.

And the differences between Facebook’s consumer application and the enterprise version go deeper than swapping the familiar blue interface for a businesslike gray. There are additional features targeted towards IT admins, including an analytics dashboard, single sign-on capabilities and two-factor authentication.

Workplace faces competition from a variety of companies, such as the enterprise social networks that Facebook to some degree inspired, including Jive, Microsoft’s Yammer and IBM Connections. Its functionality also overlaps that of team collaboration tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Atlassian Stride, though there are differences in focus.

“Slack is more closely associated with traditional team collaboration, where people constantly work with each other, communicate often and need to coordinate their efforts. Social networks can certainly fill that role, but they have a stronger affinity to broader, less formal conversations,” said Gartner research director Larry Cannell. “Workplace’s focus on groups has tried to bring it closer to team collaboration, but their heritage as a social network still influences assumptions people make about them.”


Workplace pricing

Facebook offers two tiers for its product, Workplace Premium and a free Standard tier unveiled earlier this year. The free tier provides limited functionality and support but includes the full range of communication features, such as live video streaming, voice and video calls and group chat. 

The premium tier adds various enterprise-level features and costs $3 per user for the first 1,000 active users, $2 per user for the next 9,000 active users and $1 per user thereafter. It is free for nonprofit organizations and staffers at educational institutes.

Castañón-Martínez said that Facebook has targeted large-scale “volume adoption” across enterprises with Workplace. “The same can be said of other competitors, but Facebook is particularly aggressive about this approach,” he said, adding that Facebook’s pricing reflects this. “It is similar to Atlassian’s — and to a certain extent, Slack’s, whose products have been successful with viral adoption and are known for low price/high volume pricing strategy.”

With the introduction of its free tier, Facebook has arguably courted smaller businesses as well. “For some small companies, Workplace could effectively become their social network, intranet and group messaging system,” said Cannell.


Gaining a foothold in the enterprise

Facebook’s name recognition has helped it attract some big-name customers to Workplace early on. However, it does not have the legacy of deep enterprise relationships that some rivals do, and building credibility with a corporate customer base is not straightforward.

“Workplace by Facebook has nailed usability but not enterprise trust,” said Craig Le Clair, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. Several companies that conducted pilot deployments of Workplace subsequently ended them “due to inflexible terms and conditions that indicate a lack of maturity in enterprise agreements,” he said. 


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