Software

4 new features for Facebook Workplace that could make it a better business tool

The social media giant's business platform, Workplace, is adding three new categories of integrations and releasing a new API. Will the change be enough to make it competitive?

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Image: Facebook

Facebook's F8 developer's conference is in full swing, and the latest reveal is all about Workplace, the business version of the popular social media site. Facebook announced new integrations for cloud, bots, and security, as well as the release of the Workplace Live API to support RTMP streaming.

Facebook also announced that Workplace is now used on every continent—including Antarctica—by over 14,000 organizations. Those numbers seem big, but how do they compare to competitors like Slack? And the addition of several prominent cloud partners, bot makers, and cloud compliance firms looks good—but is it enough to make Facebook Workplace a real player in the collaboration market?

Workplace: What it is

Facebook Workplace looks and feels a lot like the consumer version, but with one big difference: Your network is completely restricted to your place of employment. Aside from that, it's as familiar as logging into your personal account—messaging, posting, and everything else is there (except ads—those are thankfully absent).

SEE: Social media policy (Tech Pro Research)

As a collaboration tool, Workplace didn't have a whole lot more to offer other than a familiar interface, but F8 2017 changed that. New integrations will make it a much better tool for enterprises, even giving it the potential to become the sole collaboration tool a business uses.

What Facebook is adding to Workplace

Four new features were announced yesterday, with dozens of new partners lining up behind each one.

  1. Integrations for some of the top collaboration tools, such as Box, OneDrive, G Suite, Office, and Salesforce, have been added, along with new interfaces for browsing files inside Workplace.
  2. Chatbots have become incredibly common in the workplace for a variety of tasks. Facebook has programmed plenty of their own bots for Workplace, and the company is adding support for Avaamo, Converse, Kore.ai, Pullstring, and TheBotPlatform.
  3. Identity providers Okta, Microsoft Azure, G Suite, and OneLogin have been added. Workplace is also integrating with compliance and security providers Netskope, Skyhigh, CSDisco, and Smarsh.
  4. The new Workplace Live API, built on the Facebook Live API, adds RTMP to Workplace. Since it's built on the Facebook Live API integrations, it's ready to use with several video encoders, like Black Magic, Elemental, and Teradek.

You can see a full rundown of all the new partners and integrations at the Workplace Partners website.

Is Workplace falling short of public recognition?

I'm not exactly a gauge for the popularity of all things in the tech industry: I'll freely admit that some items pass me by. It's hard to stay on top of every single development, but I was especially surprised by Facebook's integration announcement yesterday, not because of the new partners, but because I hadn't even heard of Facebook Workplace.

I was further surprised when I saw the growth numbers Facebook and ZDNet reported at F8—14,000 organizations and 400,000 collaborative groups sounded small at first glance, especially considering the ubiquity of Facebook's public platform.

SEE: Why your company needs a social media policy (TechRepublic)

By all accounts Workplace is growing, and growing at a respectable pace. It may not match the meteoric rise of Slack, but then again Slack growth is showing signs of slowing down, right along with the launch of Workplace. It's also interesting to look at Slack's growth numbers when the platform first launched in August 2013: One year in, they were only able to report 60,000 active teams, whereas Workplace reports 400,000 groups (its equivalent to teams) in just seven months.

Workplace's growth is by all accounts remarkable, and it hasn't even hit a hockey stick point yet. It's interface is familiar, its user base is established, and there are a bunch of great integrations coming. Slack and other collaboration competitors better watch out: There maybe be a quiet juggernaut coming for them.

The three big takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. Facebook announced a number of new integrations for its enterprise tool, Workplace. The new additions add support for cloud storage, chatbot programming, security, and real time video conferencing.
  2. Also reported were some growth figures: Workplaces is being used by 14,000 companies and has over 400,000 groups, which dwarfs the growth of Slack at a similar time in its history.
  3. Facebook Workplace offers a familiar interface, and with the addition of new integrations it could easily replace other collaboration tools as a one-stop shop for accomplishing team goals.

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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