Facebook, Inc. plans to launch Facebook at Work in early January, introducing a challenge to competitors like Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. with a new workplace-collaboration tool. The new product will allow employees to communicate and collaborate on projects. As details are being finalized, it is being tested in less than a dozen companies.
Facebook plans to offer the product free of charge when it first launches hoping to grow the awareness and service. The product will only be available to employees whose companies signed up for the program.
More companies are utilizing work communication, creating an evolution to include more real-time chatting and document collaboration. Facebook’s service follows other tech companies’ moves into work communication, such as Microsoft’s acquired social-enterprise company Yammer in 2012 inclusion into its Office productivity suite. Connections is International Business Machines, Corp.’s own workplace social network. Recently valued at about $1 billion, Slack is a new enterprise-collaboration tool.
To win over the business-technology users, Facebook faces obstacles. Companies and employees can be cautious when using new technology, especially if that new technology includes uploading private or sensitive work-related information. Facebook would have to directly approach privacy concerns and go as far as integrating with other workplace software companies are familiar with.
If Facebook can get companies behind its already 1.3 billion user following, it has the potential to rival LinkedIn Corp. by providing employees the opportunity to make the professional profiles “public” and using the network as a recruitment tool.